Ancient siege of Jerusalem remembered on Jewish fast day

The fast is one of four which relate in some way to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

By World Israel News Staff 

Jews around the world are marking the 10th day of the month of Tevet on Tuesday, one of the six fast days on the Jewish calendar and one of four which relate in some way to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

On this date in 588 B.C.E, the armies of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem ultimately leading to the destruction of the first Temple in 586. The fact that several fasts are marked each year to remember the destruction of the first and second Temples, the latter in 70 C.E. by the Romans, is a manifestation of the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people.

The Temples were both located on what is known today as the Temple Mount. According to Jewish belief, its holiness is maintained.

Despite the prohibition by Jewish law against entering the inner sanctuary known as the Holy of Holies, growing numbers of religious Jews have been ascending the Mount and taking care, they say, to stay away from the prohibited spot.

The Waqf Islamic Trust closely watches Jewish visitors and often tries to ensure that no Jewish worship takes place. Israel maintains sovereignty over the location and Israel Police also keep a watchful eye and step in when it is deemed necessary.

Large numbers of Jews pray down below at the Western Wall, which was an outer wall of the Temple complex.

On the ninth of the month of Av, the destruction of the Temples is commemorated with a fast that lasts more than 24 hours, from sunset to the next day’s nightfall, as opposed to most other fast days on the Jewish calendar, such as the 10th of Tevet, which do not start until dawn and last until nightfall.

In addition to various ancient associations with the 10th of Tevet fast, this date is also marked to remember those who were murdered in the Holocaust whose actual date of death is not known. On this date, the Kaddish memrial prayer is recited by family members of those victims of the Nazi atrocities.

According to Jewish belief, the four fasts relating to the destruction of the Temple will become joyous holidays with the building of a third Temple, which will never be destroyed. Jewish sages disagree on how exactly that will unfold.