Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 01/03/2012

A DAY OF MOURNING

The Tenth of Tevet – Jan. 5, 2012

Siege of Jerusalem - 425 BCE

On the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet, 3336 years from Creation (425 BCE), the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. Thirty months later—on 9 Tammuz 3338—the city walls were breached, 100,000 Jews were slaughtered, and the rest sent into exile, and on 9 Av of that year, the Holy Temple was destroyed. The Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia for 70 years.

The 10th of Tevet (this year, January 5, 2012) is observed as a day of fasting, mourning and repentance. Jews refrain from food and drink from daybreak to nightfall, and add selichot and other special supplements to their prayers. More recently, 10 Tevet was chosen to also serve as a “general kaddish day” for the victims of the Holocaust, many of whose day of martyrdom is unknown.

“Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. And in the ninth year of his reign, on the 10th day of the 10th month Nebuchadnezzar moved against Jerusalem with his whole army. He besieged it; and they built towers against it all around. The city continued in a state of siege until the 11th year of King Zedekiah”  (II Kings, 25:1-2)

The prophet Ezekiel was instructed by God to turn this day into a day of memory:

“O mortal, record this date, this exact day; for this very day the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem”  (Ezekiel 24: 2).

Evil tyrants are nothing new to the region of Babylon, present-day Iraq. One of the most vicious in history was Nebuchadnezzar (sixth century BCE), the Babylonian king who built the most powerful nation in the world by ruthlessly attacking and annexing neighboring countries.

Whenever Nebuchadnezzar made a conquest, he used the stolen wealth to build monuments to his own glory. It was in his capital city that Nebuchadnezzar built the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon. In testimony to his grandeur, each brick was inscribed with his name.

BABYLON TODAY – IRAQ

Saddam Hussein was hanged on the 9th of Tevet, the eve of the Jewish fast day

And so it is in our time. Saddam Hussein pronounced himself as the reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar, and dreamed of restoring the Babylonian empire to its former size and glory.

North of the ancient city of Ur, on the Euphrates River, lies the biblical city of Babylon. Years ago, Saddam commissioned archaeologists to restore the city and its Hanging Gardens. Like Nebuchadnezzar 2,500 years earlier, each new brick was inscribed — this time with Saddam’s name.

During the course of the dig, archaeologists uncovered a plaque on the ancient city gate proclaiming Nebuchadnezzar’s greatness. Saddam ordered stonemasons to place another plaque on the opposite side of the gate — glorifying the greatness of Saddam Hussein. With his megalomaniacal vision in place, Saddam embarked on a campaign of terror and conquest, first in Iran, then in Kuwait. Ultimately, he dreamed of recapturing Jerusalem. In 1981, threatened by Saddam’s burgeoning nuclear capability, the State of Israel sent a squadron of seven jets to destroy the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. Saddam had named the reactor “Tammuz.”

Some see this day as a time to awaken hearts towards repentance; to recall to Jews the evil deeds of both their fathers and their own evil deeds, which caused anguish to befall them and thereby to cause them to return towards the good.

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