Culture, Israel, Politics, Religion

10 Tevet

II Kings 25:1-2 and Jeremiah 52:4-5:

In the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar moved against Jerusalem with his whole army. He besieged it, and they built towers against it all around. The city continued in a state of siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

As I left my apartment this morning, I noticed that the weather in Jerusalem on 10 Tevet is rainy and very cold. (Not as cold as, say, the northern United States outdoors, but much colder indoors.) And I couldn’t help but wonder: What was Nebuchadnezzar thinking? Why pick this time of year to send his army to Jerusalem, where they’d have to build towers in the cold and rain? Everyone knows that military campaigns start in the spring. The besieged people inside were also presumably doing ok at that point, since they would have already harvested whatever they’d need for the winter. Indeed, according to Jeremiah 52:6, they didn’t run out of food until the summer (the fourth month is Tammuz). So what gives? Clearly, ìöòøðå, Nebuchadnezzar was successful in the end, but was this the most effective way of accomplishing his objective? Or is this the biblical narrative’s subtle way of indicating that the destruction of Jerusalem was divine punishment and not a mere human conquest, by showing that the destruction went ahead despite questionable tactics (cf. Elijah pouring water on the altar before it gets consumed by fire)? Any thoughts?
May this be the last year that the fast of Tevet is a day of mourning. (Since this is a sad day, I’m not going to amuse myself and about three of you by pointing out that, redemption or no redemption, 10 Tevet will in fact not occur in 2008.)

6 thoughts on “10 Tevet

  1. I feel like all the Jewish fast days are completely unrelated to the reasons given by chazal. The solstice fast of Adam Harishon, back when he was scared the world was going to end, resonates deeper to me as to why such a big fast would happen in this part of winter.

  2. prejudiced is illogical. when you truly hate someone, you do not need a reason. you will attack them in the dead of winter. hitler attacked russia in the winter.

  3. Adam Harishon fasted first, then celebrated when he saw that the world wasn’t ending. So if that’s the reason for fasting at this time of the year, then why do we observe it after Chanukah?

  4. Why do we celebrate it after Chanuka?
    right, good question. presumeably to relieve the excess of so much feasting, but also, lifee Da’ati, because it’s not overtly connected. Chanuka was only set on the 25th of kislev after the whole Maccabean uprising; before that, the Adam holiday was when ever the solstice was. The bnei Yissaschar (I never saw it inside, but I heard this from Josh Lauffer) says that the Adam holiday was kept in the Beis Hamikdash every year, and the year after the Maccabean rededication, there was the big question: are we gonna do it the same way we always have, or according to the new Maccabean minhag of 25 kislev?
    And it so happened that, on the year right after the victory, the 25th of kislev came out before the solstice. “and the spirit of the holiday was already in the air…”

  5. I was davening at the Kotel on 10 Tevet. Wasn’t cold at all. Had to take off my jacket a few times, even.
    Gotta say, though – the Jerusalem weather is pretty erratic. Hot sun, cold under clouds…

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