All You Wanted To Know About: 17th Tammuz

By Aish UK

The 17th of Tammuz is one of four fast days throughout the Jewish calendar commemorating the destroyed Temples and the exile.

A three week period dedicated to mourning the destruction of the Temples and the fall of Jerusalem begins with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz.

The Five Tragedies

The 17th of Tammuz marks five tragic events that befell the Jewish nation throughout history.

  • Moses broke the Tablets on Sinai
  • The daily Tamid offering ceased in the Temple
  • The walls of Jerusalem were breached
  • An idol was erected in the Temple
  • Apostomus burned a Sefer Torah

Unfortunately the tragic occurances that have befallen the Jewish nation on this date are not only limited to the instances above. 

Other calamities included the 1239 confiscation of the manuscripts of the Talmud by Pope Gregory IX. In the last century, the Kovno ghetto was liquidated in 1944 and in 1970 the Jews of Libya saw their property confiscated on this date.

Customs of the 17th of Tammuz

  • Adults (Women over 12 and men over 13) fast
  • Special prayers, selichot, are added to the days prayers
  • Avinu Malkenu is recited
  • Anenu is inserted in the Amidah.
  • Exodus 32:11-14 & 34:1-10 is read from the Torah. This reoucnts the events in the wake of the Golden Calf.
  • A haftorah is read from Isaiah.

The Future

A fast day is about more than refraining from food, the practises mentioned above are done to inspire us all. It is a day to transform ourselves, personally and nationally. To elevate us out of exile. 

There is the tradition that the fast days of mourning will become days of celebration. Indeed, Zecharia 8:19 records the prophecy that after all the centuries of pain and suffering "The fast of the fourth month...will be to the House of Judah for joy and for gladness and for happy festivals." 




- November 30th 2013

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Aish UK

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