The sages declare that five tragedies occurred on the seventeenth of Tammuz, which is why the day is observed as a fast day. Days of what we might now call “bad karma” (on which bad things consistently occur) were, according to Jewish tradition, set early in Jewish history, and the seventeenth of Tammuz was fated to become one of the most painful days in Jewish history. It all began when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, discovered the Israelites dancing around the Golden Calf, and smashed the Ten Commandments on the seventeenth of Tammuz.
Everyone knows about Yom Kippur. There are, however, several other fast days in the Jewish calendar that are not nearly as well known. On Tuesday (July 19), the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz will be observed.
“Summertime, And the livin’ is easy…” especially if you are heading for a cruise vacation. Ahh, the fresh sea air, the beautiful sights and the glorious gastronomic feasts that will certainly be served. While some cruise-lines offer short three or four day sailings, a real vacation cruise generally lasts a week. If a cruise lasts seven days, it always includes Shabbat.
According the Jewish law, a man and a woman who are not married to each other may not be secluded alone in a room or other private space. To comply with this law, couples who are dating, spend a great deal of time in public places or in the company of other people. This law includes an engaged couple and, in fact, applies up until the moment the groom places the ring upon the bride’s finger under the chuppah.
Previously, Jewish Treats has presented the history of “Minor Purims,” days on which particular communities commemorate being saved from tragedy. (See Purim of Florence and Purim of The Curtains*). Algiers has two such dates:
The Book of Joel is a mere four chapters long. The prophet Joel lived in the Kingdom of Judea and prophesied during the reign of the wicked King Manasseh (c. 600 B.C.E.).
Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the legal compendium the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, relates the disturbing story of a man who became so emotional while reciting the third blessing of Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals), which asks God to restore Jerusalem (meaning the Holy Temple), that he stabbed himself in the gut with his own knife. The story is recorded as a way of explaining the custom of covering or removing all knives from the table before reciting Birkat Hamazon. Apparently this custom was common enough that it merited mention in the Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim 180:5).
Those familiar with synagogue ritual know that there is a weekly Torah reading cycle. In the Fall, there are the inspiring stories of creation and the history of the origins of the Jewish people (Genesis). With winter comes the enslavement, freedom, and the journey in the wilderness (Exodus). Winter thawing into spring brings the laws of the Temple (Leviticus), followed by additional Temple laws and more of the wilderness history (Numbers). Finally, as summer fades into fall, there is a summation of the entire history of Israel as seen through the eyes of our great leader Moses (Deuteronomy).
Much of Jewish life is built around community. Jews often live close to each other, often with a synagogue or synagogues at the center of their neighborhoods. As important as living in a community is, Judaism has always put a premium on maintaining individual privacy.
While Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchak 1040-1105) is considered the premier commentator on the Torah and the Talmud, he is also noted as the grandfather of Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir (1100-1171). Also known as Rabbeinu Tam (our teacher, the complete*), Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir was one of the most important of the Talmudic scholars known as the Tosafists and a leader of his generation.