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How Can the 10th of Tevet Interfere with Shabbat?

How Can the 10th of Tevet Interfere with Shabbat?

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Question:

I am confused about the fast of the 10th of Tevet. This calendar year it falls on a Friday, which means that we fast all the way up until we make kiddush. I thought we were not allowed to enter Shabbat fasting!

Response:

Ordinarily, you are correct—one must not enter Shabbat while fasting. This particular fast is an exception. In fact, according to one opinion,1 if the 10th of Tevet would fall out on Shabbat, we would have to fast the whole Shabbat. This is based on the similarity of the text describing the events of the day2 to the wording in the Torah describing Yom Kippur,3 from which we know that Yom Kippur is never postponed. (Our calendar is set up in such a way that the 10th of Tevet cannot occur on Shabbat, but in times when the calendar is determined by the central court in Jerusalem, it is a possibility.)

What is so exceptional about the 10th of Tevet? Well, it was the day that the Babylonian army led by Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. Superficially, that seems less significant than the day the walls were breached (for which we fast on the 17th of Tammuz), or the day the Temple was set afire (for which we fast on the 9th of Av).

But that’s only when you look at the tragedy involved. A fast, however, is declared not just so we can demonstrate how sad we are. A fast is called by the prophet4 “an auspicious time”—a time when we are empowered to rectify whatever went wrong on that day.

Now, if you want to fix something, where do you start? If a river is polluted, do you start your cleanup by washing off the beaches downstream, or do you go upstream and plug up the sources that are pouring in all that sewage and toxic waste? Similarly, when we want to correct the past, the most vital part of that correction is to go back to where it all started from, and fix things there. And that’s the 10th of Tevet.

On the 10th of Tevet, as I wrote, the king of Babylon and his troops set siege to Jerusalem. No one could enter and no one could leave. All of Jerusalem’s inhabitants were forced to live with one another, without escape. “G‑d sends the cure before the illness,” our sages say, and this is a prime example: the siege itself provided the Jews within Jerusalem an opportunity to come together as one—and if they had, no army could have attacked them.5 Nebuchadnezzar and his warriors would have retreated to where they came from, as had the army of Sennacherib years before.

Now, an amazing thing: We have been in exile since the destruction of the Second Temple, close to two thousand years. What is the primary, underlying cause of such a long exile? Our sages attribute it to one principal factor: causeless hatred. When there is harmony among Jews, they are invincible. When there is, heaven forbid, discord and acrimony, there is exile. The siege of Jerusalem on the 10th of Tevet, it turns out, provided us an opportunity to fix the root cause of the exile before it had even started.6

Just as it was the first time, so too every year, the 10th of Tevet is an auspicious time for us to reach all the way into the first cause of our exile and to cure it, by creating caring and harmony among Jews, and thereby taking us all out of our exile once and for all. For such an empowerment, we may have to sacrifice some of the enjoyment and tranquility of Shabbat, but it’s certainly worthwhile.

Practically speaking, on this Friday evening, kiddush is made as soon as three medium stars have appeared and the fast is officially over (see here for the exact time at your location). Those fasting should not eat until after hearing kiddush.

Wishing you an easy, meaningful and effective fast.

Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov for “Ask the Rabbi” @ Chabad.org


Source:

Based on several talks of the Rebbe. See Likkutei Sichot, vol. 25, p. 267, and volume 30, p. 220.

Footnotes
1.

See Beit Yosef, Orach Chaim 550, in the name of Abudraham. The final ruling in Shulchan Aruch, however, is that none of the four fasts commemorating the destruction and exile can push aside Shabbat. Nonetheless, the 10th of Tevet is still the only one that can fall on Erev Shabbat according to our calendar, continuing after sunset into Shabbat, until nightfall.

5.

See Jerusalem Talmud, Peah 1:1: Rabbi Aba son of Kahana said, “David’s generation were all righteous, but because there were informers among them, they fell in battle . . . Ahab’s generation were idolaters, but because there were no informers, they went to battle and were victorious.”

And in Derech Eretz Zuta, chapter 9: This is what Rabbi Elazar ha-Kappar would say, “Love peace and abhor a quarrel. Great is peace, for even when the people are worshipping idols but there is peace among them, it is as though G‑d Himself cannot touch them, as Hosea says (4:17), ‘Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.’ Yet as soon as there is a quarrel, what does Hosea say (10:2)? ‘Their hearts are parted; now they will be culpable.’”

6.
The Talmud (Yoma 9b) states that the Second Temple was destroyed due to causeless hatred, while the First Temple was destroyed due to idolatry, promiscuity and murder. Nevertheless, as stated, the destruction of the First Temple could not have occurred had unity prevailed.
Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov is co-director, along with his wife Chanie, of Chabad of Northwest Indiana, and a member of Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi team.
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Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org December 16, 2013

Re: Kiddush for those who do not have to fast In theory, if a person isn't fasting, he or she may make Kiddush before the fast is over. However, practically speaking Kiddush is usually anyway done after nightfall (3 stars), especially in the winter months when it is not common to start Shabbat early. Reply

Anonymous Camarillo, CA, USA via chabadcamarillo.com December 14, 2013

Kiddush for those who do not have to fast Does a person who is exempt from fasting (for medical reasons, etc.) make Kiddush at the time when they would if it were not a fast day, or do they also have to wait until the stars appear? Reply

Rex Earth December 14, 2013

To David YES! Exactly! We are meant to overcome every aspect of our so-called "nature" until nothing but righteousness, peace and love exist - and if that sounds unrealistic then you've already given up. "Relatively united"? Look at the vitriol that pours back and forth between secular and religious, between Reform and Orthodox, between the houses of Hasidism - is that unity to you? Is that unity to Hashem?

Go, seek every beggar you can find, not just the Jewish ones, and give them a warm meal and you will have done more to bring nearer the dawn of Moshiach than a thousand Jews who wear tefillin near their heart every day but refuse to expel the hatred that resides there. Reply

Bea WNY December 13, 2013

Oh gosh... forced to live with each other Isn't that today's problem... avoiding actually living with each other. The world now lives through a one person perspective... through emails, social networks, online chats or through TV's forced feeding. G-d forbid the power fail. To actually have the power of the world shut off and be forced to come together in person... live the 10 of Tevet! I'm fearful that the battle would be more inside the walls than outside. We, today, truly believe we are living with each other and we are not. We chance by each other as we do what we want to do when we want to do it. We live in isolation because we have forgotten what it really means to live together and love each other for Love's sake alone. Love sees faults as a chance to be made wholly holy by over coming; not seeing your brother as lower than yourself. In our struggle Hashem's Spark shines brightest. Tanya chapter 29-31 teaches us how to live together. Remember to remember the joy in living together as one united... as His chosen to unit. Reply

David New York December 12, 2013

hate Isn't it true that Jews are relatively united? To what extent is G-d expecting the Jews to unite? Is it to the point that defies nature? Is G-d really expecting an entire [Jewish] society to love each other and care for each other in the same way that we - as individuals - care for our own children? Am I supposed to house every Jewish beggar on the street? Reply

Levi Rapoport NY December 10, 2013

missed the point "Wishing you an easy, meaningful and effective fast." Wishing you that we shouldn't have to fast (b/c Moshiach will be here) Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov December 16, 2010

Re: Preparing for Shabbat All preparations for Shabbat, including showering, may be done as usual. The only fasts on which showering is not permitted are Yom Kippur and the 9th of Av. Even those who generally go beyond the letter of the law will shower on this fast, since it's a matter of honoring the Shabbat. Reply

Abigail London December 16, 2010

Preparing for Shabbat Are we allowed to shower in the afternoon in preparation for Shabbat, or should it be done before dawn? Reply