Fast Days, Slow Down

Today is Asarah B’Teves, a fast day marking the date upon which Nebudchadnezer commenced his siege on Yerushalayim.

The Rambam points out that the reason for fasting is to awaken our hearts to teshuvah. Shouldn’t our hearts always be awakened to teshuvah? Why do we need a fast day to encourage this awakening?

Perhaps fast days serve to shake us from our slumbering routine practices, from the squeezing of our yiddishkeit in to our hectic schedules, from our plateaus.

Maybe we are being told “Slow down! Give yourself some time to think, to introspect, to grow.”

The fact that Asarah B’Teves commemorates the beginning of the siege of Yerushalayim is instructive. Beginnings are important. More than 2500 years ago, one might not have predicted that the commencement of the seige on Yerushalayim would have had such disastorous results. Looking back, however, we see that this first step led to the ultimate destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the beginning of the Babylonian Exile.

The same can be said, all the more so, for teshuvah. Beginnings are important. Any journey starts with the first step.

So, slow down, think and start (or recommence) your journey.

12 comments on “Fast Days, Slow Down

  1. Ah, excellent point! But, she announced before we dated that she hated NY; and my mother lived in Queens the first 23 years of her life (then Bklyn for 5!).

  2. LOL. Yes, actually. First one is tomorrow. But blogging is so much more fun.

    What’s the quote? “Never let school get in the way of education.” I live by that quote. :)

  3. I agree, Ezzie. That’s why I wrote:

    “The Rambam points out that the reason for fasting is to awaken our hearts to teshuvah.”

    I saw your post and liked it. I read it to my wife this morning.

    Don’t you have finals to study for? :)

  4. The impression I’ve gotten is that fast days themselves are designed to bring us to teshuva (actually wrote a post on this today).

  5. Thanks for that reminder of the meaning of days like these. The days where we go about our normal schedules are always the hardest for me to feel deeply, though I try. Beginnings are always the hardest for me as well, so I am really thinking about what you just wrote. You never really know where they will lead, for good or for bad. I suppose being cautious about beginnings is good in regard to things that can turn out badly or worsen. But even beginning good things is difficult for me, though once in a “pattern” or “good habit” I tend to thrive. And there can also and always be new beginnings with tshuva, at any stage of the ladder. Some new area to explore, deepen, take on, etc. Thanks for the “food” for thought on this fasting day.

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