In the midst of the sunshine and enjoyment of summer comes a time of great mourning. The first month of summer in the Jewish calendar is Tammuz, in Aramaic is literally means "heat." The 17th of Tammuz marks the beginning of a three-week period of sad recollection.
On this day five calamities befell the Jewish people:
Moses smashed the first set of the Ten Commandments
Daily sacrifices were discontinued in the First Temple
Jerusalem’s city walls were breeched by the Romans
An idol was erected in the Temple
The Torah was burnt by Apustemus
The overriding tragedy remembered is the breaching of the city walls of Jerusalem. It is this event that leads to the destruction of the Temple three weeks later on Tisha b'Av and the Israelite's subsequent journey into exile which remains today. This day is observed with a fast which commences on the break of dawn until dusk, one of only two Jewish fasts to be observed in this manner.
The purpose of agonizing over these events is to deepen our spiritual walk. This is known as a time of deep introspection. It is a time when we make a commitment to improve – to expand our relationship with God, to treat one another kinder, to find forgiveness to those we believe to have wronged us. We have the power to transform tragedy into something positive.
It is in these darkest times that we feel like God has abandoned us. However, it is in these times when we must seek Him, because He will be there for us. We remember the words of Deuteronomy 4:29-31:
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.
May this time inspire us to improve our attitudes, our faith and our treatment of others. It is this search of progression that can give us hope. If each of us moves along a positive path, the world will be a better place. So at this time of darkness let us choose to see light, it may just inspire others to do the same.
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