A Message for Shiva Asar B’Tamuz
This Sunday, July 24th is Shiva Asar B’Tamuz, a fast day which begins the period of the three weeks of mourning which culminate in Tisha B’Av.
It is especially important this year, as the world and the Jewish people face unusually difficult challenges of terrorism across the world and of strife and tension in the Land of Israel that we devote this coming fast day to prayers and Torah study.
It is appropriate, indeed, to include in our prayers the victims of terror in the recent series of bombings in London, and to pray for the well being of those wounded and for the consolation of the bereaved. We also pray that the scourge of terrorism be removed from the world and applaud all of those people of good will who are devoted to protecting the security and well being of decent human beings throughout the world.
In the Land of Israel we are viewing a situation in which thousands of Jews are being asked to leave their homes and communities. As none other than Ambassador Danny Ayalon has written, there is the prospect that “living, breathing communities, some more than thirty years old, will simply vanish.” While the government of Israel advocates this disengagement, and many believe that it is inappropriate for Jews living in the Diaspora to publicly protest this policy, certainly many Israelis deeply oppose it on moral, religious, and security grounds. Those people, as citizens in any free society, deserve the right of open public dissent. We are viewing scenes of great conflict and are anxious that no one be hurt in the process. We must pray on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz that the Ribono Shel Olam hear our prayers and bring about a proper resolution to these difficulties and challenges. We must ask in our prayers for the “geulah shelemah”, in which the Land and its people will be totally redeemed. We pray that if we are not worthy of a total geulah, that at the very least the life and safety of all Jewish people, and all the citizens of Israel, be protected.
In our prayers we must share along in the pain of those who are being asked to leave their homes. We must “join them in carrying their burden.” These sentiments should pervade our tefilos during this coming fast day.As always, we must increase and intensify our contributions to tzedakah during this fast day.
The Orthodox Union has now established a special fund which will be dedicated to the support of individuals of those communities which are now being uprooted. This fund will be channeled through our Israel Center and will be dedicated to assisting these noble heroes in every way possible, no matter what the outcome of disengagement. Checks can be mailed to the Orthodox Union and marked “Special Israel Center Fund.”
Tzedakah to the poor and to Torah institutions of all types is also most appropriate on this day.
Since Shiva Asar B’Tamuz this year falls on a Sunday and most of us are free from our weekday work obligations, it is especially appropriate to devote time to Torah study above and beyond the Torah one studies regularly. We urge all of our synagogues and individual members to dedicate this Shiva Asar B’Tamuz, its prayers, its charity and its Torah study toward the successful resolution of the difficulties which we are now facing in our Holy Land.
Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Ph.D. Executive Vice President Orthodox Union
Stephen SavitskyPresident Orthodox Union
To learn more about the the 17th of Tamuz, please visit HERE