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December 21, 2006 - Image 39

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-12-21

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A smart way to lose weight

The Fast
Of Tevet

W

hat: Asarah be-Tevet.
Fast day which com-
memorates the besieg-
ing of Jerusalem by the Babylonian
king Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.E.
When: Sunday, Dec. 31. Fast
starts at sunrise and ends at sun-
down.
Who: Nebuchadnezzar. King of
Babylon (605-562 B.C.E.). After his
victory over the Assyrian-Egyptian
alliance, he conquered lands from
the Euphrates to the Egyptian fron-
tier, including Judah.
After Judah rebelled, he took
Jerusalem in 597 B.C.E. He
replaced king Jehoiachim with
Zedekiah, and took captives back to
Babylonia. Subsequently, Zedekiah
rebelled and Nebuchadnezzar
invaded Judah again. In 586 B.C.E.,
he captured and destroyed the
Temple, and expelled the Jews from
Jerusalem (II Kings: 24-5).
Why: In Jewish tradition, there
are three kinds of fasts: statutory
public fasts, special-public fasts
decreed in times of calamity and
private fasts. Private fasts were
often observed in times of threat or
danger, to display piety or to mark
lifecycle events.
Fasting is an ancient rite that was
often used to express devoutness,
induce visions, express sorrow,
mourning or asceticism or as an
aid in preparation for revelation or
for a sacred meal. Judaism, which
is generally not an ascetic religion,
employs fasting as an expression
of piety for purification, atonement
or commemoration, with the goal
of leading Jews to more ethical
behavior.
There are six Jewish statutory
public fasts, of which two — Yom
Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and
Tisha b'Av (the Ninth of Av, com-
memorating various tragedies of
Jewish history) — are considered
major fasts, lasting from sundown
to sundown. The other four are
considered minor fast days, which
last from sunrise to sunset on the
same day.
Four of these fasts are connected
to the destruction of the Temple in
Jerusalem, and two of them (Yom
Kippur and the fast of Esther) are
observed for unique reasons. 1 _1

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December 21 . 2006

39

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