Sunday, July 01, 2018

Re today's observance of the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz

Start with the traditional reasons--here's one list.  My usual complaint is applicable:  Several of the reasons given for this fast are midrash and, to the best of my knowledge, have no backing in historical evidence or earlier religious texts.  For example, midrash teaches, regarding the 17th of Tammuz, that "Moses descended Mount Sinai on this day and, upon seeing the Golden Calf, broke the first set of Tablets carrying the Ten Commandments (Shemot 32:19, Mishna Taanit 28b)."  Good luck trying to find proof of that dating in Shemot/Exodus itself!

My personal practice regarding fast days is to try to find meanings that are relevant to me.  The destruction of the Temple is not my main concern, as I have no interest whatsoever in participating in animal sacrifices.  What makes this a tragedy for me is the fact that thousands of people died in the process.

For the moment, as a citizen of the United States, I'm dealing with more contemporary concerns.  The erosion of voting rights and/or the deliberate effort to make voting as difficult as possible; the downgrading of civil rights for members of the LGBTQI community; attacks on the right of women to control our own bodies and to be respected as fully human; the targeting of the entire Muslim world as terrorists; the labeling of Latin Americans (even U.S. citizens) as rapists, murderers, gang members or otherwise untrustworthy and therefore, candidates for long-term incarceration if they attempt to immigrate; the disdain for diplomacy; the disregard, and even downright contempt, for the rule of law; the attempts of our current national government to ensure that any benefit aimed at the non-wealthy is phased out; climate-change denial and attacks on environmental-protection programs--did I miss anything?--are enough reason for me to fast.


Anonymous AnDat said...

... It might not be straight out in the text, but you can do math. After the covenant made at Sinai, receiving laws and whatnot, Moshe was on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights, per Shmot 24:18 (also recounted in Devarim 9:9, for good measure). Then he came down and saw the nation worshiping the golden calf. Count 40 days from Shavuot and you get 17th Tammuz. Do you want to have the argument about the date of Shavuot?

Sun Jul 01, 02:41:00 PM 2018  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

As long as you asked . .

Sun Jul 01, 05:31:00 PM 2018  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

For those still playing Jewish catch-up--I'm one of you--the date of Shavuot is determined by when we begin to count the Omer.

It took me *forever* to find that post--it's really a shame that doesn't have a search window.

Sun Jul 01, 07:21:00 PM 2018  

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