The Luminary - The 10th of Teves

This day on the Jewish calendar began the siege on Jerusalem by the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar, which led to the eventual destruction of the temple and expulsion of the people of Israel from their land.

Today, 2425 years later, Jerusalem is still under seige. Sure, you can get into your car and drive west to Tel Aviv (though venturing north, east, or south is quite a different matter), and the supermarkets are stocked. But it is a seige as terrible and as deadly as the city has known.

Today, we can hear the shooting at the apartment houses of Gilo. In and around the city and throughout the country, the enemy hurls rocks, bullets and bombs at Jewish soldiers and school buses. While the Dovidovitch children contemplate the loss of their mother, and 8 year old Tehillah Cohen Contemplates the loss of her 2 legs, diplomats scurry about pushing "pushing papers" and TV commentators and newspaper columnists revile the Jews for refusing to lay down their weapons and board the cattle cars like good little boys and girls.

The killers are driven by hate, the pundits and politicians by vanity and naivity. Together, they would rip the heart of Israel from its body. But even more frightening is the way history is repeating itself.

The Talmud describes how, instead of uniting against the common enemy, Jewish factions battled one another in beseiged Jerusalem. "Because of baseless hatred between Jews," concluded the Talmud, "was Jerusalem destroyed."

Why, asks the Lubavitcher Rebbe, does the Talmud insist that hate was "baseless"? Were there no reasons, both ideological and pragmatic, for the divisions amongst the Jews? But no reason, explains the Rebbe, is reason enough for hate.

The commonality of our fate runs so much deeper then any possible cause for animosity. All hate then, is baseless hatred. So if "baseless hatred" was the cause of the destruction, continues the Rebbe, its remedy is "baseless love" - our rediscovery of the inrinsic unity which overides all reasons for discord and strife.

Pray for Jerusalem, encourage and aid its defenders, and show love to a fellow Jew - no matter how he/she differs from you. First if there is one redeeming virtue in being under seige, it is the oppurtunity to realize that we are all in this together.

What is the 10th of Teves? The fast of Teves falls in the 10th of the month starting from the Hebrew month of Nissan, hence its biblical name "the tenth month."

This year, the fast falls out on friday Jan. 5, 2001. The name Teves is Babylonian and can be found in the Book of Esther. The fast of the 10th month of Teves - on this day, the seige of Jerusalem began during the seige of Nebbuchadnezzar, prior to the destruction of the first temple. The citizens of Jerusalem knew hunger as never before ... this sad day was proclaimed a fast day by the rabbis to commemorate the destruction of the temple and the consequent dispersion. The sages pointed out that the day should be devoted to contemplation of the events leading up to the seige.

Email: Yisroel