The Fast of Tammuz – www.khouse.org
In 2010, June 29th on the Hebrew calendar is Shiva Asar B’Tammuz – the 17th of Tammuz, the beginning of the Three Weeks of mourning leading up to Tisha B’Av (9th of Av) on July 20th.
The 9th of Av is a familiar date for Jewish grief. On both occasions when foreigners destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, they did it on the 9th of Av. Many other tragedies befell Israel on this date throughout history. The 9th of Av is not alone, however. Another date, the 17th of Tammuz, has also been filled with suffering. On June 29th, many observant Jews will fast to commemorate five tragedies that befell Israel on 17 Tammuz throughout history.
On 17 Tammuz:
•Moses broke the tablets of the Law after seeing the people dancing around the golden calf they had made while he was on Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 32:19). The LORD later replaced the tablets (Exodus 34);
•The daily sacrifice ended during Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem for lack of sheep and other sacrificial animals;
•The Romans broke through the walls of Jerusalem shortly before the 2nd Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70;
•Years prior to the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostumus burned a scroll of the Torah;
•An idol was erected in the Temple.
The three week period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av is called Bein Hametzarim – "between the troubles". On the Sabbath during the Three Weeks, passages on the Temple’s destruction and the exile of the Jewish people are read from Isaiah and Jeremiah. During this period of time, Orthodox and other observant Jews refrain from the following:
•wearing new clothes
•listening to music
•bathing for pleasure
•shaving or hair cutting
•drinking wine or eating meat
While the Fasts of Tammuz and Av (the 4th and 5th months) are a time of mourning, many Jews believe that after the future redemption of Israel, these days of mourning will be turned into days of feasts and rejoicing. As the LORD told the prophet Zechariah:
The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace." (Zech 8:19).