TUESDAY, JULY 19: It’s a daylong fast of mourning that anticipates a time of great joy: Today, Jews observe one of four minor fasts on the Seventeenth of Tammuz. Historically, the Seventeenth of Tammuz commemorates five events. Most Jews are familiar with two major events that are remembered today, namely the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple and the destruction of the Twin Tablets of the Ten Commandments by Moses. (Get more history, multimedia tools and more at Chabad.org.) For “pious Jews,” the Seventeenth of Tammuz also marks the beginning of the Three Weeks, a mourning period leading up to the Ninth of Av. However—the Prophet Zechariah taught that if Jews can look inward, improve themselves, and therefore ensure that events like the ones remembered today don’t happen in the future, the Seventeenth of Tammuz will become a day of “gladness and cheerful feasts.” (Wikipedia has details.)
Recent events in New York have led Jews worldwide to, once again, remember with a refreshed perspective the sadness of losing a temple. (Read an article in The Jewish Week.) Since Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun—a congregation aged 140 years in the Jewish community—burned last week, articles have been popping up, tying the ancient period with current-day mourning.