This Tuesday will mark the Hebrew date of the 10th of Teveth, a fast day during which we remember the siege laid upon Jerusalem by Babylonian forces led by Nevuchadnetzar (Nebuchadnezzar), which would culminate in the destruction of Solomon’s Temple one and a half years later. Though no Holy Temple stands in Jerusalem today, we nevertheless maintain the ability to view ourselves each as a miniature Temple, and sanctify ourselves correspondingly, using our bodies, words, and thoughts. The Talmud teaches that fasting can act similarly to a sacrifice, as we diminish our own bodies as an offering of contrition to God. Through sincere prayer and meditation upon the Word of the Law, our words can replace the animal offerings as well, as taught by the prophet Hoshea (Hosea): “Take with you words, and return to Hashem… and we will render for bulls the offering of our lips” (Hosea 14:3). Through crying, one’s tears replace the libations upon the altar. In the realm of thought, we imbue these acts with meaning through sincerity of heart and humility of spirit. May we seize the upcoming fast day, and in fact every day, as a focal point to change our trajectory back toward God, to transform our lives so they embody the holiness of the Temple that once stood, and in that merit may we see the rebuilding of our Holy Temple, and the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth, speedily in our days.
Based on Shla”h, Masecheth Taanith
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