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    The onset of tragedy – 17 Tammuz

    Fasts are sometimes personal or private such as the fast that is kept on the occasion of a Yahrzeit. Sometimes they are communal and national like the fasts associated with the destruction of the Temple.

    17 Tammuz and 9 Av are the second type. The fasts bring us back to events in Jewish history. They remind us how events mould attitudes. In the case of the Temple they direct our thoughts to the importance of Jerusalem and the centrality of the ancient sanctuary.

    Though it seems a strange phenomenon of the calendar, Yom Kippur is both kinds of Fast – a historical as well as a spiritual occasion. Many Jews think that nothing is as important as Yom Kippur, and one fully understands that argument.

    But there is also a case for the importance of 17 Tammuz when the city walls of Jerusalem were breached and the national tragedies of the Jewish nation commenced.

    Nothing happens without a beginning. With the onset of a tragedy, a major tragic development will not be far off.

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