Jerusalem under Siege

Right now, Jerusalem feels like it is under siege. The roads that enter and exit the city are all closed down due to a snowstorm (about 30 cm of snow).


The fact that this is happening today is very significant as it is the Fast of the 10th of Tevet, the day that marks Nevuchadnetzer’s siege of Jerusalem in the year 588 BCE, a year and a half before he ultimately destroyed the Beit HaMikdash (Temple).


Aside from fasting, we also say special Slichot prayers and read a Haftara from Yishayahu 55:6-56:8.


In the Slichot prayers for the Tenth of Tevet, we read about all of the calamities that happened on the Tenth of Tevet and the importance of repentance.


We recite the words: “Chadesh yamenu kiKedem”, renew our days as of old, O Eternal God who dwells in the heavens. Make crimson sin white as wool and make stains snow white.


This concept comes from Yishayahu 1:18-20: “Come now let us reason together, says God: If your sins are like scarlet they will become white as snow; if they become red as crimson they will become white as wool. If you are willing to obey you will eat the goodness of the Land but if you refuse and rebel you will be devoured by the sword- for the mouth of God has spoken.”


The Haftara, also from the book of Yishayahu Chapters 55-56 discusses the importance of repentance. Those who return to God will be forgiven.


In Yishayahu 55:10-12 we read:


“For just as the rain and snow descend from heaven and will not return there, rather it waters the earth and causes it to produce and sprout and gives seed to the sower and food to the eater, so shall be My word that emanates from My mouth, it will not return to Me unfulfilled unless it will have accomplished what I desired and brought success where I sent it. For in gladness you will go out and in peace you shall arrive, the mountains and hills will break out in glad song before you and all of the trees of the field will clap hands.”


Yishayahu is comparing God’s word to rain and snow. Rain and snow don’t return to the heavens and we don’t always appreciate them when they are falling but once the plants begin to grow we begin to appreciate the fact that it rained or snowed, we too must wait patiently and God’s word will also be fulfilled. Gladness and peace will eventually come to the Land and people of Israel.


This Shabbat will be a difficult one, as many people are stranded away from their families both inside and outside of Jerusalem. However, we have seen the tremendous outpouring of chesed, loving kindness with people opening their homes to help those who are unable to return to their own homes until the roads are cleaned up.


The true message of the Fast of the 10th of Tevet is that we must repent, change our ways and do acts of loving kindness in order to bring about true peace in the Land of Israel as well as the building of the Third Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem.


Lets hope that the prophecy comes true and that “the mountains and hills will break out in glad song and all of the trees of the field will clap hands” as those who were stranded outside of the city return to Jerusalem.