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Dec 13, 2013

Thoughts on modern-day Tenth of Teves (Asara bTeves)

Today is the 10th of Teves. The day that commemorates, by fasting, the siege on Jerusalem by the Babylonians.

1. Someone pointed out that in today's daf yomi it relates the story of Hillel who wanted so much to learn Torah but could not afford the entrance fee to the beis medrash that he climbed to the roof and listened to the lecture via the skylight. He was later found on the roof covered in a drift of snow. That is how much he wanted to learn Torah.

Today's unusual snowstorm in Israel coinciding with the daf of Hillel and the snow should perhaps make us revisit our drive and dedication to learn Torah.

2. The day commemorates the siege on Jerusalem. Today Jerusalem is once again under siege, but this time because of the snow. The Temples were destroyed because of hatred within Israel. Today, with the snow, all the differences between us seem to be forgotten, at least for a day or two. People are happy and having fun, people are helping others out - those who are stranded, those with no electricity, those cold and hungry. We should learn the lesson of the siege of snow that brings us closer to each other and rectify the siege of the invading armies when we were mired in hatred..

3. I would not call him quite an invading army, but once we are talking about sieges and foreign presence, might there be any meaning to the combination of the current siege of Jerusalem and the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry?

4. Today is another rare confluence of dates - this one of the 10th of Teves coinciding with Friday the 13th. In the spirit of the recent Thanksgivvukah holiday and the menurkeys that abounded, I hereby declare the name of today's combination to be the 13th of Teves. Ask your LOR if you must fast on the 13th of Teves. :-)

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