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Why Are We Fasting?

Chazal teach us that there were 5 tragedies that happened on the 17th of Tammuz:

  1. Moshe broke the luchos on 17 Tammuz, when he saw the Jewish people worshipping the Golden Calf.
  2. During the 3-year Babylonian siege on the 1st Beis HaMikdash, the Jews were forced to stop offering the korban tamid (daily sacrifice) because they were unable to obtain animals.
  3. The walls of Yerushalayim were breached, prior to the destruction of the 2nd Beis HaMikdash. 
  4. Before the 2nd Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, Apostamos (a Roman general) publicly burned a Sefer Torah.
  5. An idol was placed in the Beis HaMikdash – a horrible disgrace to the holiest place on earth.

Although these 5 events were very tragic, the purpose of today’s fast is not just to remember what happened in the past.

Rather, the Rambam writes1 that the purpose of this fast day is to awaken our hearts, and to urge us onto the path of Teshuva. In fact, the Chayei Adam2 writes that if a person fasts the whole day but does not pause to examine his ways and do teshuva, he is missing the entire purpose of the fast day!

If a person fasts the whole day but does not pause to examine his ways and do teshuva, he is missing the entire purpose of the fast day!

Today, let’s make sure we fulfill the purpose of 17 Tammuz by taking onesmall step toward becoming closer to Hashem. Every little step that we take to grow and do teshuva is so precious in Hashem’s eyes and helps rebuild the Beis HaMikdash sooner.

Sources: [1] Rambam Hilchos Taanis 5:1; [2] Chayei Adam 133:1

Your Challenge

Think of 1 area in your personal life that could use improvement right now.

Then make a committment to do something VERY SMALL to improve in that area for the next 3 weeks.


  • Is there someone you encounter in your daily life whom you have a difficult relationship with? Commit to smiling at them once a day, or at least once every time you see them.
  • Have a hard time controlling your speech? Commit to taking 1 hour each day when you’ll hold back from saying anything negative about other people.
  • Choose 1 hour each day when you’ll commit to avoid complaining.
  • Take a moment every day to ask Hashem out loud (in your own words) to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash very soon.
  • Every day, push yourself to doing something that’s hard for you, in the merit of rebuilding the Beis HaMikdash.
  • Every day, leave over a bit of food (or hold yourself back in a tiny way from doing something else you enjoy) to demonstrate your pain that the Jewish people are still in galus, and to empathize with the Shechinah’s pain.
  • Every day, take a moment to daven or say a chapter of Tehillim in the merit of helping a friend in need.
  • …or choose any other committment that you would find personally helpful.

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