Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jerusalem Besieged - 17th of Tammuz

Till June 1967, the image of a besieged Jerusalem was not hard to visualize.

Though the Jews had been evicted from the city in 1948, the underlying commemoration of the fast of the 17th of Tammuz dovetailed with a captured and barren Yerushalayim.

Coils of barbed wire, occasional sniper fire, the Mandlebaum Gate, and the words of Yoram Gaon's song "From atop of Har HaTzofim" were the day to day reality.

מעל פסגת הר הצופים
אשתחוה לך אפיים
מעל פסגת הר הצופים
שלום לך ירושלים!
אלפי דורות חלמתי עלייך,
לראות, לזכות, באור פנייך!

ירושלים, ירושלים,
האירי פנייך לבנך!
ירושלים, ירושלים,
מחרבותייך אבנך!

That was only 40 years ago.

In the First Temple Era: The priests stopped offering the daily sacrifice on this day (Taanit 28b) due to the shortage of sheep during the siege and the next year 3184 (586 BCE), the walls of Jerusalem were breached after many months of siege by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces. In the Second Temple period, Titus breached the walls of Jerusalem in 3760 (70 CE) which led to the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. (OU)

On the radio today (IDF Galei Zahal), a Rav was called up on-air to explain about the fast day today and he listed the different calamities that befell Israel on this day. The interviewer scoffed, "So, the 3 weeks is an unlucky time for us? Do you have any other recent calamities to recount?"

The Rabbi replied quietly, the second Lebanon War started on the 17th of Tammuz 2 years ago. That ended the conversation rather quickly.

Flashing back to "modern" Israel, I looked back at my posts from 2 years ago during the 2cnd Lebanon War. My first post of the war started here and you can see the whole month's index here. I should really go back and index all the posts from back then -- just glancing back at them gives me a very eerie feeling, especially with the burials of our soldiers last week.

May the coming 3 weeks be a time of redemption.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Anonymous said...

The soldiers were kidnapped on July 12, 2006 which was the 16th of Tammuz.

Israel began reacting pretty much though only on the 17th of Tammuz (that evening).

But either way, I never put 2+2 together.

And here is another piece of trivia, when did the Expulsion actually begin?

Anonymous said...

Jameel, excellent post!
The lyrics of this haunting song (a poem, actually) were written by the Hebrew poet and author Avigdor Hameiri, (look him up!) and the music is a folk tune, possibly by Rapaport.
Also, the correct version is "Meah Dorot", not "alfei" , though that word does appear in the third stanza.
May we live to see this day be one of rejoicing.

Anonymous said...

The OU does seem to say that before the destruction of the first temple, the walls of Jerusalem were breached on the 17th of Tamuz. I find this odd, because the Gemara (Taanit 28b) says that it was on the 9th of Tamuz.

Anonymous said...

The photo of the artist's renditionof the Churban Habayis looks so real. does anyone know who painted it and how I can get in touch to get Re'shus to use it for something?

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