10 Teves and the Gaza war

Guest post by Daniel

I heard the following over Shabbos:

This Tuesday we will be fasting the Fast of the Tenth of Teves, known as Asarah B’teves. Although this is considered a “minor” fast, it has a unique quality that we all must know about as our young men brave their way into the hornet’s nest of Gaza and as rockets continue to fall on the homes of klal Yisroel.

Unlike any other non-de’oraisa fast, the fast of Asarah B’teves is done even if it falls out on Shabbos. There is only one other non-de’oraisa fast that we permit to be done on Shabbos, and that is a ta’anis chalom (fast over a traumatic dream).

The Chasam Sofer explains why Asarah B’teves and a ta’anis chalom are in the same category.

When we fast on other days of the year, such as on the 9th of Av, we are fasting over a tragedy that occurred. On the 9th of Av, we fast because the Temple was destroyed. Something tragic happened in the past, and we mourn that tragedy.

However, what happened on the Tenth of Teves? On that day, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. Thirty months later, he conquered Jerusalem on the 9th of Av. Thus, Asarah B’teves is the beginning of the churban (destruction) process, but not the churban itself.

Since every generation in which the Beis HaMikdash is not rebuilt is considered as if it were destroyed in that very generation, the fast of Asarah B’teves is also the beginning of the churban process in our generation.

So why can we fast on Shabbos if Asarah B’teves falls on Shabbos?

A ta’anis chalom is permitted to be done on Shabbos because the dreamer was graciously informed, via dream, that terrible heavenly decrees are currently being weighed upon him and/or his family. Thus, there is no time to spare, even for Shabbos, since his judgment is being weighed in the beis din shel ma’ala at this very moment. He therefore is docheh (lays aside) both his mitzvah of oneg Shabbos and his isur of fasting on Shabbos, in an attempt to remove the evil decree pressing upon him from on High.

This Tuesday begins the churban process in our generation, once again. Our fate as a nation is being weighed. The war is being played out in Gaza, but it is being directed from on High. The thoughts, speech, and deeds of every single one of klal Yisrael is being taken into account. There is no time to spare!

Please take this into your fast. Please do what must be done in your life, and in your community, especially as regards judging fellow Jews with mercy. Your family members are “fellow Jews” too!

May we be judged to be tzadikim, and not resha’im, and thus see a complete and speedy redemption of our people.

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