Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Shiva Asar B'Tamuz

Why Do We Fast? - Part II

by Rabbi Yehudah Prero

In the last post we mentioned that we fast on the 17th day of Tamuz because of five tragedies that occurred on that day. We explained what the five tragedies were. However, we still need to explain why we fast: What is the point of fasting, of withholding nourishment from ourselves, on this day?

The Rambam, in the fifth chapter of Hilchos Ta'aniyos (The laws of Fasts) writes that we fast on days that calamities occurred to us "because it can serve to arouse our hearts and to open ourselves to the paths of repentance. It serves as a reminder of our wicked conduct and that of our ancestors which resembles our present conduct, and therefore brought these calamities upon them and upon us. By reminding ourselves of these matters, we will repent and improve our conduct, as the verse says in Vayikra 26:40, 'And they will confess their sin and the sin of their forefathers...'."

One lesson that we see from the Rambam is that fasting in it of itself does not serve a purpose. The Mishna B'rura in 549:1 writes that the fast "is only a preparation for repentance. Therefore, those people who while they fast go on trips and involve themselves in idleness and useless activities have grasped on to the subordinate and set aside the main and essential." We have to remember why we have this day of fasting, and use the time allotted for the correct purpose: to inspire ourselves to repent. But, why are we being inspired to repent now, on the 17th of Tamuz (and on the 9th of Av, etc.)? We were not the cause of the catastrophes that occurred on this day; our forefathers were. Why do WE need to be inspired to repent on this day?

The answer to this is another lesson we glean from the Rambam. We see that the Rambam stresses that we share responsibility for the tragedies that have occurred in the previous generations. The Talmud Yerushalmi (in the tractate of Yoma) tells us that every generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt should consider itself as if the Temple was destroyed in its days. We see that if we were truly greater than the generations who had these tragedies occur to them, we would not be fasting on this day, as we would have a Temple standing in Jerusalem. Because our deeds are not up to par, we have no Temple, and repentance is in order.

We now know why we fast. May we merit to all take this lesson to heart, and see the Temple rebuilt speedily, in our days.


Check out all of the posts on The Three Weeks: 17 Tammuz - 9 Av Mourning the Destruction. Head over to http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/ to access the YomTov Page. Then click on the icon for the holiday of your choice.


For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

Use Them or Lose Them
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

Abraham's Dwelling
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Universal Responsibility
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Participating in G-ds Master Plan
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5774

Love and Sacrifice
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Don't Doubt My G-d
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5775

> Redefining Pleasure
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

I Lift My Hands
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

Cloudy Vision
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Ordeal of Departure
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

Lech Lecha
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

Divine intervention in Our Wars Against Our Enemies
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5771

ArtScroll

Grace Saved
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

The Dawn of a New Era
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

Paradoxical Lot
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Saved in Yaakov's Merit
Shlomo Katz - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information