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No Food Allowed

Chaya Baila Gavant and Shira Yehudit Djalilmand

We all need it to live. But what happens when it’s not available or not allowed, like on a fast day? Our bodies can manage for a short time without eating, though not forever. What’s the story behind fasting, and would anyone ever try it voluntarily?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

food chainAlthough the only fast day that appears in the Torah is Yom Kippur, four other fast days were established by the neviim, including “Tzom HaAsiri” — the fast of the tenth month, known as Asarah B’Teves.

We actually commemorate three separate sad events on Asarah B’Teves:

1) Targum Shiv’im, the first translation of Torah into Greek, at the command of the Greek emperor Talmei, on the 8th of Teves.

2) The deaths of Ezra and Nechemiah, leaders of the Jewish People at the beginning of the Second Beis HaMikdash, on the 9th of Teves.

3) The siege around Yerushalayim by Nebuchadnezzar, on the 10th of Teves, before the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash.

What was the big tragedy in the translation of the Torah? Don’t we all translate the psukim when we learn them in school?

The translation ordered by Emperor Talmei was different from our translation, since it amounted to a kidnapping of the Torah for Greek purposes. No longer was the Torah the exclusive possession of the Jews; now it was accessible to non-Jews as well, and open to misinterpretation, as indeed happened.

Interestingly, at the end of the Second Beis HaMikdash, a sefer called Megillas Taanis was compiled, listing 35 dates on which minor fast days and holidays were declared in memory of various tragedies and salvations. After the destruction of the Second Beis HaMikdash, they were all abolished, except for Chanukah and Purim.


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