BALAK (Numbers, 19:1-25:9)/ 17th of Tamuz and the Three Weeks — “Will the REAL Jackass Please Speak Up?”


Next Monday night thru Tuesday, June 24-25, is the 17th of Tammuz, which begins a three week period of increasing mourning leading up to Tisha B’av, the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple.

Much like a mourner during the 30 days following the death of a loved one, we refrain from listening to music, making weddings, and taking haircuts during these three weeks.  The 17th of Tammuz itself is a fast day.  It is permitted to get up early Tuesday morning to eat before the fast begins.  The fast begins Tuesday at dawn, (72 minutes before sunrise.) It ends at dusk, (25-72 minutes after sunset, depending upon local custom.)  For sunrise and sunset times for your community click here.

The 17th of Tammuz commemorates five events:

1) Moses came down from Mt.  Sinai and broke the Tablets when he saw the Golden Calf.

2) Due to the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, there were no longer sheep available for the daily offering in the first Temple.

3) The Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem, three weeks before destroying the second Temple.

4) A Torah scroll was burnt.

5) An idol was placed into the Temple.

Some people make the mistake of assuming that the main Mitzvah on a fast day is to refrain from eating.  This is a fallacy.  The purpose of a fast is to turn our focus away from the physical and material, and to emphasize the spiritual.  It is a time to evaluate our relationship with our Creator.  A fast day is a time to ask G-d to watch over our Nation and keep us safe and secure.

Some commemorative days can be a little difficult to really relate to.  On Shavuos, for example, it is a challenge to put oneself in a mindset where we can actually envision ourselves standing at Mt.Sinai.  The 17th of Tammuz is different.

Jerusalem and all of the Land of Israel are under siege at this very moment.  Our People are being murdered and world opinion is increasingly aligned against us.

It is time for us to take the situation seriously and beg G-d to help us. Let us pray that this year will be the last year that the 17th of Tammuz is a fast day, and that we will soon be privileged to see the redemption of our People, the rebuilding of our Temple, and peace in the world.


“Will the REAL Jackass Please Speak Up?”

… Balaam still didn’t get it.  Three times, Balaam tried to curse the Nation of Israel; three times, they came out as blessings… Fired from his job by Balak, Balaam went home in disgrace.

What was going on in Balaam’s head?  How could a great oracle who was “One who knows the mind of the Supreme One,” make such a mistake?  How could he be so blind to the fact that G-d didn’t want him to go on this mission?  How did this brilliant prophet allow his donkey to make a jackass out of him?!

The answer can be seen from one of Balaam’s communications with Balak…

Read more.

Additional messages from previous years:

“Rocky Road” (2010)

“How Good is YOUR Tent?” (2007)

“Of Television, Toilets, and Idolatry” (2003)


Published in: on June 20, 2013 at 9:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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