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Fast of the Tenth Month...


Torah Portion: Parashat Vayechi (“and he lived...”)

Shabbat: Jan. 7, 2023 / Tevet 14, 5783

Torah: Gen. 47:28-50:26

Prophets: 1 Ki. 2:1-2:12

New Covenant: Heb. 11:21-22; 1 Peter 1:3-9


Priestly Blessing

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26


Asarah B'Tevet (the Tenth of Tevet) is a minor fast day (i.e., observed from sunrise to sunset) that marks the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon (in 587 BC) and the beginning of the battle that ultimately would destroy the Temple and send the Jews into the 70-year Babylonian Exile. Though it begins a week after Chanukah, there is no relationship with that holiday, since the siege of Nebuchadnezzar predated the time of the Maccabean revolt by hundreds of years.

The Babylonian siege is recounted in 2 Kings 25:1-2:

"And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month (Tevet), in the tenth day of the month (Asarah B'Tevet), that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about. And the city was besieged..."

The Cycle of Minor Fasts and the Fall of Jerusalem Three years after Jerusalem was besieged, Nebuchadnezzar finally broke through the city walls (on the 17th of Tammuz) and destroyed the Temple three weeks later (on the 9th of Av). Asarah B'Tevet is therefore part of the cycle of fasts connected with the events surrounding the destruction of the Temple:

  1. Jerusalem Besieged - The fast of Asarah B'Tevet (Tevet 10) marks the day when Nebuchadnezzer first besieged Jerusalem in 587 BC.

  2. Walls Breached - The Fast of the 17th of Tammuz marks the date when Nebuchadnezzer broke through the walls of Jerusalem and began the 3 week campaign to destroy the Temple (marks the start of the three weeks of sorrow)

  3. Temple Destroyed - The fast of Tishah B'Av (Av 9) marks the fateful day when the Temple was destroyed (marks the last day of the 3 weeks of sorrow).

  4. Exile - The fast of Gedaliah (Tishri 3) marks the dreadful consequences of the exile and further rebellion.

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