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Tenth of Tevet
Official nameHebrew: עשרה בטבת
TypeJewish religious, national
SignificanceRemembers the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia
ObservancesFasting
Begins10 Tevet at 72 minutes before sunrise
Endsat the beginning of 11 Tevet
2023 dateDecember 22, 2023
FrequencyAnnual (per Hebrew Calendar)[note 1]

Tenth of Tevet (Hebrew: עשרה בטבת, Asarah BeTevet), the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tevet, is a fast day in Judaism. It is one of the minor fasts observed from before dawn to nightfall. The fasting is in mourning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia—an event that began on that date and ultimately culminated in the destruction of Solomon's Temple (the First Temple), downfall of the Kingdom of Judah, and the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people.

The fast day is not related to Hanukkah but happens to follow that festival by a week. Whether the 10th of Tevet occurs 7 or 8 days after the last day of Hanukkah depends on whether the preceding Hebrew month of Kislev has 29 or 30 days in the relevant year.

History

See also: Siege of Jerusalem (587 BC)

According to II Kings,[2] on the 10th day of the 10th month (Tevet),[note 2] in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign (588 BCE), Nebuchadnezzar II, the second Neo-Babylonian emperor, began the siege of Jerusalem. Eighteen months later, on the 17th of Tammuz at the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign (586 BCE), he broke through the city walls; the Romans would similarly break through the walls of Jerusalem on the 17th of Tammuz. (In the Biblical calendar, each year in the reign of the Kings of Judah or of Israel is dated from 1 Nissan. Hence, Tevet (tenth month) of Year 9 of Zedekiah is only 18 months before Tammuz (fourth month) of Year 11 of Zedekiah.)

The siege ended with the destruction of the Temple three weeks later, on Tisha B'Av, the end of the first Kingdoms. The elite of Judah was taken in exile to Babylon. The Tenth of Tevet is part of the cycle of three fasts connected with these events.[3]

The first reference to the Tenth of Tevet as a fast appears in Zechariah 8, where it is called the "fast of the tenth month." One opinion in the Talmud [4] states that the "fast of the tenth month" refers to the fifth of Tevet, when, according to Ezekiel,[5] news of the destruction of the Temple reached those already in exile in Babylon. However, the tenth is the date observed today, according to the other opinion presented in the Talmud.[6] Other references to the fast and the affliction can be found in the Book of Ezekiel (the siege)[7] and the Book of Jeremiah.

According to tradition, as described by the liturgy for the day's selichot, the fast also commemorates other calamities that occurred throughout Jewish history on the Tenth of Tevet and the two days preceding it:

Judaism sees this event as a tragedy, reflecting a deprivation and debasement of the divine nature of the Torah and a subversion of its spiritual and literary qualities. They reasoned that the Torah's legal codes and deeper layers of meaning would be lost upon translation from the original Hebrew. Many Jewish laws are formulated in terms of specific Hebrew words employed in the Torah; without the original Hebrew wording, the authenticity and essence of the legal system would be damaged. The mystical ideas contained in the Torah are also drawn from the original Hebrew. As such, these would not be accessed by individuals studying the Torah in Greek (or any other language) alone.

Two things, however, rendered the Septuagint unwelcome in the long run to the Jews. Its divergence from the accepted text (afterward called the Masoretic) was too evident; and it therefore could not serve as a basis for theological discussion or for homiletic interpretation. This distrust was accentuated by the fact that it had been adopted as Sacred Scripture by the new faith.

— [9][10]

Observance

As with all minor ta'anit or fast days, the Tenth of Tevet begins at dawn (alot ha-shahar) and concludes at nightfall (tzeit hakochavim). Following the general rules of minor fasts as outlined in the Shulchan Aruch,[12] and in contrast to Tisha B'Av, there are no additional physical constraints beyond fasting (such as the prohibitions against bathing or of wearing leather shoes).

Because it is a minor fast day, halacha exempts from fasting those who are ill, even if their illnesses are not life-threatening, and pregnant and nursing women who find fasting difficult.[13] The Mishnah Berurah notes that it is still commendable to observe all the restrictions of Tisha B'Av on the minor fast days except for the restriction of wearing leather shoes. Even so, it says, one should not refrain from bathing in preparation for Shabbat when the Tenth of Tevet falls on a Friday.[14]

A Torah reading, the Aneinu prayer in the Amidah, and the Avinu Malkeinu prayer are added at both shacharit and mincha services in many communities unless the fast falls on Friday, when Tachanun and Avinu Malkeinu are not said at mincha. At shacharit services, Selichot are also said, and at mincha, in Ashkenazi congregations, the Haftarah is read.[15]

The Tenth of Tevet is the only minor fast day that can coincide with Friday in the current Hebrew calendar. When it does, the unusual event of a Torah and Haftarah reading at the mincha right before Shabbat takes place. This is fairly rare; the most recent occurrence was in 2023, while the next will happen in January 2025 (as the 2024 observance). If it falls on Friday, the fast must be observed until nightfall, even though Shabbat begins before sunset (up to 72 minutes earlier, depending on the halachic authority), and even though this requires one to enter Shabbat hungry from the fast, something typically avoided.[citation needed] It cannot be determined for sure whether other fasts would have the same ruling, because no other fast day can fall out on Friday, except for the Fast of the Firstborn when Passover begins on Friday night.[note 3]

Although this fast is considered a minor fast, David Abudarham attributed to it an additional theoretical stringency not shared by any other fast except Yom Kippur, namely that if the Tenth of Tevet were to fall out on a Shabbat, this fast would be observed on Shabbat. (This cannot happen under the current arrangement of the Hebrew calendar.) The reason the fasts of the Tenth of Tevet and Yom Kippur must be observed on the actual day on which they occur is because of the phrase "the very day" (עצם היום הזה) is used about both of them, in Ezekiel 24:2[16] about the Tenth of Tevet, and similarly for Yom Kippur in Leviticus 23:28.[17] This view is rejected by the Beit Yosef and all other major halakhic authorities, but was popularized by Rabbi Moses Sofer, who wrote a commentary based on the philosophy behind this view.[citation needed]

Although the Tenth of Tevet is an annual observance on the Jewish calendar, its placement around the end of the Gregorian calendar year means that in some Gregorian years, there is no observance of the fast, while in other years, the fast is observed twice. Thus, the Tenth of Tevet did not occur at all in 2019. Instead, the "2019" observance of the fast took place in January 2020, while the subsequent observance occurred in December 2020.[18]

Day of general kaddish

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel chose to observe the Tenth of Tevet as a "general kaddish day" (yom hakaddish ha'klalli) to allow the relatives of victims of the Holocaust, and whose yahrtzeits (anniversaries of their deaths) is unknown, to observe the traditional yahrtzeit practices for the deceased, including lighting a memorial candle, learning mishnayot and reciting the kaddish. According to the policy of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel, the memorial prayer is also recited in synagogues, after the reading of the Torah at the morning services.[19][20] To some religious Jews, this day is preferable as a remembrance day to Yom HaShoah since the latter occurs in the month of Nisan, in which mourning is traditionally prohibited.[21]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ On the "secular" (Gregorian) calendar, this can result in some Gregorian years having no occurrence, while others have two. For example, there is an occurrence in December 2021. The following occurrence is in January 2023 (2022 having been skipped), while the occurrence after that is in December 2023 (two occurrences in 2023).
  2. ^ Counting from Nisan, per Exodus 12:1–2 See Hebrew calendar § New year.
  3. ^ However, the Ninth of Av can fall out on Saturday night into Sunday, and in such a case one observes all stringencies of the fast (except the prohibition of wearing leather shoes) from sunset on Saturday evening.

References

  1. ^ "Asara B'Tevet – Fast commemorating the siege of Jerusalem". www.hebcal.com. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  2. ^ 2Kings 25:1–25:4
  3. ^ Tconnection between the fasts
  4. ^ Rosh Hashanah 18b
  5. ^ Ezekiel 33:21
  6. ^ "Tenth of Tevet"
  7. ^ Hammer, Jill (2010). The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons. Jewish Publication Society. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-8276-1013-2.
  8. ^ Tur Orach Chaim 580, quoting Simeon Kayyara.
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference Ross2021 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ Toy, Crawford Howell; Gottheil, Richard (1906). "Bible Translations: The Septuagint". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. Retrieved December 25, 2022.
  11. ^ "Jewish Perspectives on Early Christianity – Nittel, the Ninth of Teves and Pope Simon Peter (Dr. Shnayer Leiman)". www.yutorah.org. June 4, 2023.
  12. ^ Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 549–550, 561–562
  13. ^ Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 550:2.
  14. ^ Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 550 s.k. 6.
  15. ^ Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 566
  16. ^ Ezekiel 24:2
  17. ^ Leviticus 23:28
  18. ^ "Asara B'Tevet – Fast commemorating the siege of Jerusalem – עשרה בטבת | Hebcal Jewish Calendar". www.hebcal.com. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  19. ^ Tevet 10 – Holidays
  20. ^ Amar, Shlomo. "Letter of the Rishon Le'Tzion concerning the 10th of Tevet" (PDF) (in Hebrew). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 13, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  21. ^ "Shulhan Aruch, Orah Hayim 429:2".