RABBINATE OF MARBELLA B”H- FAST 17 TAMUZ
Next Thursday, July 9, we will commemorate the fast of the 17th of Tamuz, which begins at 5:30 a.m. and
ends at 10:10 p.m. with the departure of the stars.
In the Mishnah (Taanit 4:6), our Wise Men of Blessed Memory teach us that five tragedies
occurred on that day, which is why it was decreed a day of public fasting and mourning. On this day
and up to the 9th of Ab, the “three weeks” are observed, which preceded the destruction of the Temple and
were particularly harsh and tragic for the Jewish people.
In the year 2448 of our calendar, the Torah was given to the people of Israel by our
lawmaker Moses, who ascended Mount Sinai by divine command and remained there for 40 days,
that matched the 17th of Tamuz. When the prophet came down with the stone tablets containing the Ten
Commandments, he saw that the people had corrupted themselves and made an idol, the golden calf. At
watching this spectacle, Moshe Rabenu broke the tables.
In the time of the First Temple, every day two animals were sacrificed, one in the morning and
another one in the afternoon. One atoned for sins committed during the night and the other for sins committed during
the day. Consequently the people of Israel slept every night free of sin, thanks to these
sacrifices known as Korban HaTamid. When the Babylonian Empire laid siege to the city of
Jerusalem, on the 10th of Tevet, continued to offer these sacrifices with the animals that still
remained in the city, but when the 17th of Tamuz came next, we had to stop offering this
daily sacrifice. This made our enemy stronger, destroying Jerusalem and in
the Holy Temple.
During the Second Temple, and when king Alexander Ianái was ruling, he ordered before dying,
that his wife Alexandra Salome would take the throne and his son Hyrcanus would be the High Priest. But
When the queen died, a fraternal dispute broke out between Hyrcanus and his brother Aristobulus,
for the occupation of the throne. Hyrcanus triumphed, but there were those who interceded and finally
agreed that he would continue as Cohen Gadol and his brother would take the throne. Hyrcanus repented
of this agreement and started a new fight against his brother in which many people died.
Hyrcanus found that he could not regain the throne and allied himself with the Roman Emperor, who with a
a great army laid siege to the city of Jerusalem. Aristobulus remained inside the city while his
brother was left out with the Roman legions. As there were no more cattle to offer, they had
people who went out to the outskirts of the city with large amounts of gold coins, to
buy animals and offer the corresponding sacrifices.
There is an anecdote that an evil character, who knew the Greek method of sign language,
sent a secret message to the Roman authorities, letting them know that while the people of Israel
continue to offer the sacrifices, the city would never be conquered. The next day when the
people passed by with the coins to buy the lambs for the Korban Tamid, the Romans gave them
delivered a pig in its place, which made the offer impossible.
Also on this terrible date, the cruel Apostomus burned the Torah scrolls. There are commentators who
They claim that this took place some sixteen years earlier, when he was governing as a procurator,
Camanus and before the great revolution against the invading army. Other theories hold that the
Apostomus incident took place during the conquest of the Greeks, under the rule of Antiochus
The fifth tragedy that reminds our Mishnah was that an idol was placed in the Sacred Temple and
some attribute it to the evil Apostomus.
“Hashem, he will destroy death forever, wipe the tears from all faces and make
His people will not be shamed again…” This is how the prophet Isaiah expresses it
“The days of fasting shall be turned into days of joy and gladness for the people of Israel.