THURSDAY, JANUARY 5: The celebration of Hanukkah has come to a close, and today’s minor fast—the Tenth of Tevet—recalls a solemn time in Jewish history: the beginnings of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia. Ultimately, Nebuchadnezzar’s siege led to the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. (Wikipedia has details.)
Historical documents state that on the 10th day of Tevet in 425 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar’s armies attempted to capture Jerusalem; 30 months later, the army breached the city’s walls and the Holy Temple was demolished soon after. In commemoration, Jews today will fast from sunrise to sunset, repent sins and mourn the loss of the Temple. (How can Jews today relate to an event of so long ago? Learn how at Aish.com.) As the role of fasting is key to today’s anniversary, Jews recall exactly why they fast: to repent their sins and the sins of their ancestors. By restricting indulgences and physical pleasures, observant Jews hope to gain control over any evil dispositions. (Get more information at the Jewish Virtual Library.)
Depending upon the year’s calendar, the Jewish Tenth of Tevet falls seven or eight days after Hanukkah. Coincidentally, 2011 saw no Tenth of Tevet and 2012 will see two: one today, and another on Dec. 23.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.