Shiv'ah Asar b'Tammuz

Meaning of Name

The 17th of Tammuz

English Name

The Fast of Tammuz

Calendar Month

June/July (in 2006, falls on July 13)

Jewish Calendar Date

Originally the 9th of Tammuz to commemorate the fall of the walls of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians just prior to the destruction of the First Temple. Transferred later to the 17th, the day on which the daily sacrifice was suspended. (The 17th is also said to be the day on which the walls of Jerusalem fell prior to the destruction of the Second Temple at the hands of the Romans. Since that destruction was felt to be of greater significance, the date was moved to the 17th).

Duration

One day

Purpose

To commemorate the destruction of the walls of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (First Temple) and Romans (Second Temple).

Origin

Based on an earlier fast mentioned in Zechariah 8:19: Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah…'” The 17th of Tammuz appears to correspond to the fast of the fourth month, suspended according to the word of Zechariah. However, after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the fasts once again were observed. The 17th of Tammuz along with most similar fasts became mandatory after 135 CE (when Bar Kochba’s revolt was defeated by the Romans).

How Observed

Partial fasting (daylight hours only)

Special Synagogue Readings

Torah (portion from the Five Books of Moses) is Exodus 32:11-14, 34:1-10. Haftarah (portion from the Prophets) is Isaiah 55:6-56:8.

Traditional Folklore and Customs

By tradition, other tragedies also occurred on this date: Moses broke the tablets of the Law, the daily sacrifice was suspended, and the Torah was burned in the Temple by Apostomos (an unknown individual referred to in the Talmud who may have lived any time between 168 BCE and 135 CE and who set up an idol in the Temple).Torah (portion from the Five Books of Moses) is Exodus 32:11-14, 34:1-10.

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