By the Grace of G‑d
5 Tevet, 5736 [December 9, 1975]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing:

In reply to your inquiry and request for instructions in connection with the forthcoming Fast of Asara b'Tevet (10th of Tevet), in view of the situation in and around Israel---

You will surely be instructed by the rabbi of your congregation, however, since you have also approached me in this matter, I will set forth, at least, several suggestions—after the following introductory remarks:

Regrettably, there are people who claim that it is necessary to think and act "big," in terms of global dimensions and stupendous undertakings, etc. Surely they mean well; and to the extent that such resolutions are practical and are actually carried out—they are very helpful in improving the situation.

Yet, we must never overlook—indeed, rather greatly emphasize—the so-called "small and unsophisticated" things which each modest congregation, moreover each individual, can and must do—beginning with the old, yet ever-new, Jewish way, collectively as one people and also as individuals. This is the action of "the voice is the voice of Jacob"--Torah and prayer—which G‑d Himself has shown us to be the first effective action to nullify the power of "the hands of Esau"--in whatever shape or form they are raised against us.

Certainly this should find the fullest expression in a day which the Shulchan Aruch declares to be a day of fasting, one to which the prophet Isaiah refers as a "chosen fast...a fast and time favored by G‑d."

Now, in answer to your inquiry, and since the Fast of Asara b'Tevet is specially connected with the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem (recalling the siege of Jerusalem), my suggestion —in addition to the regular "observances" on fast days, as set forth at length and in detail in Poskim and in books of Mussar and Chassidut—is as follows:

During this day—expressly for the sake (zechut) of the security and strengthening of the Holy Land, materially and spiritually, and for the material and spiritual benefit of all Jews wherever they are—in the Holy Land as well as in the Diaspora—and particularly for the benefit of our brethren behind the "Iron Curtain"--a special effort should be made in the spirit of "Old Israel"--in the areas of Torah, Tefilah, and Tzedakah.

Especially after Davening (both in the morning and at Mincha) one should learn (and where there already are daily study groups, to add) a subject in Torah, including Halachah Pesuka. Immediately following the Davening, even before learning, one should say several chapters of Tehillim (in addition to the regular portion).

Before and after Davening—one should give Tzedakah (in addition to the regular donation), including Tzedakah for a sacred cause or institution in the Holy Land, the "Land of Living."

Needless to say, one who repeats the above again and again in the course of the day is to be praised And the more one does it (in quantity and quality), the more praiseworthy it is.

And, as in all matters of holiness, it is desirable that all the above be done b'tzibbur (with at least a minyan).

May G‑d accept, and He will accept, the prayers and supplications of Jews wherever they are.

And soon, in our very own days, may the Promise be fulfilled that "These days will be transformed into days of rejoicing and gladness," with the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

With blessing,