08 January 2017

The Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth of Teves

The Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth of Teves

According to II Kings (25:1–25:4), on the 10th day of the 10th month (which is Tevet when counted from Nisan, the "first month" according to Exodus 12:1–2), in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign (588 BCE), Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, began the siege of Jerusalem. Two and a half years later, on the 17th of Tammuz at the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign[1] (586 BCE) Jeremiah (52.6–7), he broke through the city walls. The siege ended with the destruction of the Temple three weeks later, on the 9th of Av, the end of the first Kingdoms and the exile of the Jewish people to Babylon. The Tenth of Tevet is thus considered part of the cycle of fasts connected with these events, which includes: Shivah Asar B'Tammuz (17th of Tammuz) and Tisha B'Av (9th of Av).

See also: Siege of Jerusalem (587 BC)

The first reference to the Tenth of Tevet as a fast appears in Zechariah (8:19) where it is called the "fast of the tenth month." One opinion in the Talmud (b. Rosh Hashana 18b) states that the "fast of the tenth month" refers to the fifth of Tevet, when, according to Ezekiel (33:21), news of the destruction of the Temple reached those already in exile in Babylon. However, the tenth is the date observed today, according to the other opinion presented in the Talmud.[2] Other references to the fast and the affliction can be found in Ezekiel 24:1–24:2 (the siege) and Jeremiah (52:4–52:6).[3]

According to tradition, as described by the liturgy for the day's selichos, the fast also commemorates other calamities that occurred throughout Jewish history on the tenth of Tevet and the two days preceding it:

On the eighth of Tevet one year during the 3rd century BCE, a time of Hellenistic rule of Judea during the Second Temple period, Ptolemy, King of Egypt, ordered the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, a work which later became known as the Septuagint.[4] Seventy two sages were placed in solitary confinement and ordered to translate the Torah into Greek. The expected outcome would be a multitude of different translations that would then be compared and critiqued by the Greeks as there were some sentences in the bible that could be understood as offensive to pagans if taken wrongly and would obviously need to be changed. This would demonstrate the muddled meanings of the Torah and the divergent opinions of Jewish interpreters. 

However, all seventy-two sages independently made identical translations into Greek. The Greeks saw this as a most impressive feat. However, various rabbinical sources see this event as a tragedy, a debasement of the divine nature of the Torah, and a subversion of its spiritual qualities. They reasoned that upon translation from the original Hebrew, the Torah's legal codes; deeper layers of meaning would be lost. Many Jewish laws are formulated in terms of specific Hebrew words employed in the Torah; without the original Hebrew code, authenticity of the legal system would be damaged. The mystical ideas contained in the Torah are also drawn from the original Hebrew. As such, these would not be accessed by individuals studying the Torah in Greek (or any other language) alone.

On the ninth of Tevet, "something happened, but we do not know what it was..." (Shulchan Aruch). The selichot liturgy for the day states that Ezra the Scribe, the great leader who brought some Jews back to the Holy Land from the Babylonian exile and who ushered in the era of the Second Temple, died on this day, and this is verified by the Kol Bo. But according to the earlier sources (the Geonim as recorded by Bahag and cited in Tur Orach Chaim 580), the specific tragedy of 9 Tevet is unknown. Some manuscripts of Bahag (obviously not those available to the Tur) add that Ezra and Nechemiah died on this day—but only after first stating that the Rabbis have given no reason for why the day is tragic. Other suggestions are given as to why the ninth of Tevet is notable as well.[5]

Day of General Kaddish

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel chose to observe the Tenth of Tevet as a "general kaddish day" (yom hakaddish ha'klalli) to allow the relatives of victims of the Holocaust, and whose yahrtzeits (anniversaries of their deaths) is unknown, to observe the traditional yahrtzeit practices for the deceased, including lighting a memorial candle, learning mishnayot and reciting the kaddish. According to the policy of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel, the memorial prayer is also recited in synagogues, after the reading of the Torah at the morning services.[11][12] To some religious Jews, this day is preferable as a remembrance day to Yom HaShoah, since the latter occurs in the month of Nisan, in which mourning is traditionally prohibited.

NOTES:
1. In the Biblical calendar, each year in the reign of the Kings of Judah or Israel is dated from 1 Nissan. For example, even if a king began his reign on 29 Adar, a day prior to 1 Nissan, the next day would already be tabulated as Year 2 of his reign. Hence, Tevet (tenth month) of Year 9 of Zedekiah is only 18 months prior to Tammuz (fourth month) of Year 11 of Zedekiah.

12. Amar, Shlomo. "Letter of the Rishon Le'Tzion concerning the 10th of Tevet" (PDF) (in Hebrew). Retrieved 16 December 2013.

For the full article and other Notes, see Wikipedia

No comments: