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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Fast Day’

The Holiest Day of the Year: How IDF Soldiers Observe Yom Kippur

Friday, September 13th, 2013

The Yom Kippur War in 1973 serves as a stark reminder why the IDF must be on alert every day, especially on the holiest day of the year, and rabbis guide soldiers on the best way possible to maintain the delicate balance between a soldier’s obligations to national defense with his or her religious needs.

Day-to-day work in the IDF comes to a halt on all holidays like Yom Kippur, but essential security work must be active 24/7 as a result of constant threats posed by Israel’s enemies. In 1973, Syria and Egypt abused the holiness of the day by attacking Israel while most of soldiers were fasting at home or in the Synagogue.

For IDF soldiers who are on duty, some of the laws of Yom Kippur are not possible or even dangerous to observe fully. Yom Kippur is well known for its 25-hour fast, it also is forbidden to wash, bathe, apply lotions or oils to the skin or wear leather shoes.

Some soldiers observe the custom of immersing in the mikveh, the ritual bath before Yom Kippur. For soldiers who do not have access to a ritual bath, they fulfill the tradition by taking a three-minute shower, the equivalent of 12.5 liters of water.

All soldiers are exempt from wearing the leather IDF boots that are part of the standard uniform. Soldiers are entitled to wear their own personal shoes made from canvas, rubber, or in some cases, sandals. Troops who are in areas that require sturdy footwear, such as in fields with snakes or scorpions, are permitted to wear their leather boots until they are finished with the work, after which they can switch back into non-leather shoes.

Almost every base has a synagogue in one form or another. Before the holiday, the IDF Rabbinate ensures that every IDF base has enough of the special Yom Kippur prayer books. Cantors are sent to many bases around Israel in order to lead the intense prayer services.

Soldiers who are not on active duty are able to fast, but while on duty are allowed to have the equivalent of a capful of water and a tiny amount of food every nine minutes. The intervals are shortened depending on the intensity of the situation.

One new innovation to comply with the law allowing a certain amount of water is to use popsicles, which perfectly portion water out .Individually-wrapped mini ice popsicles work well not only because of their easy portion control but because they also provide a small amount of sugar for soldiers who need it.

Some soldiers are not able to fast at all due to their line of work. Refraining from food and water while on duty be dangerous for the soldier and for national security since it could distract from a soldier’s abilities.

Lieutenant Colonel Malakhi Ra’avad, head of the branch responsible for interpreting religious law, said that a soldier’s health and safety comes above all else. “We would not allow a pilot, for example, who will need to fly a plane during Yom Kippur, to fast at all. It would put his life in danger. Keeping our soldiers out of harm’s way is our most important concern.”

Soldiers who have questions regarding observance of Yom Kippur while on duty have several options in the army. In addition to advice from their own personal rabbi, soldiers can speak with the rabbi of their base or call the Rabbinate Hotline to get quick answers about observing Jewish law in the army.

Even the soldiers who go home for the holidays must still be prepared to be called back to base at a moment’s notice. Some soldiers keep their cell phones with them, even if for religious reasons they would not otherwise touch electronics during Yom Kippur.

When the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973, Brigadier General (res.) Avraham Baram saw firsthand what happened to the holiday: “The very second the war broke out, Yom Kippur ended for us.” He said that whoever was at synagogue during the holiday did not find out about the war or emergency call-up until many hours later. “It would have been so different even if I had this plain phone,” Brig. Gen. (res) Baram said, pointing to his smartphone.

Netanyahu Opens ‘Direct Talks’ with Abbas: Greetings on Ramadan

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu picked up the phone on Sunday to personally call Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and say, “I called to greet you on the occasion of Ramadan.”

That was the first time the Prime Minister has called Abbas since the new government took office this year.

Cynics might say that Netanyahu simply was being a political opportunist, calling days before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pays his sixth visit to the region this to re-invent the “peace process.”

“I hope that we will have an opportunity to speak to each other and not just on holidays, and that we begin negotiations,” the Prime Minister added. “This is important. I hope that American Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts have results.”

That certainly should satisfy the cynics.

Unfortunately, the Office of the Prime Minister, which made sure the media knew about the phone call, did not mention what Abbas said in response, if anything. Government spokesman Mark Regev told the Jewish Press, “I cannot go beyond the statement.”

Presumably, Abbas said, “Thank you.”

That would be a good start.

The United States has been acting as middle man for Israel and the Palestinian Authority for more than 20 years, orchestrating the moves of the leaders, whether they be Arafat, Abbas, Netanyahu, Loment or Sharon.

Until now.

The Obama administration, which simply is carrying the flameless torch of the Bush administration, has put each side into a tight comer with no room to wriggle except to turn around and quit the game of charades.

If the international community, whatever that means today, would let Israel and the Palestinian Authority figure this out for themselves, maybe the locals actually know what is best.

Netanyahu got the ball rolling.

Who knows? Maybe Abbas will call him today and wish a “good fast” for Tisha B’Av?

Tisha B’Av marks the date that the First and Second Holy Temples were destroyed.

A cynic would say, “Wait a minute. The Palestinian Authority is trying to convince the world that the Jews never had any connection with the Temple Mount and that the Bible is simply Zionist propaganda.”

In that case, Abbas would not make any reference to  Tisha B’Av.

Oh well, there always is Rosh HaShanah.

 

It’s Official: Israel to Fast on Yom Kippur like Americans

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Israelis will fast on Yom Kippur this year just like Americans, starting and finishing the fast one hour later due to Daylight Savings Time, known in Israel as summer time, remaining in effect until the end of October.

The Knesset Monday night overwhelmingly voted for the change, ending years of arguments between secular Jews, who want a longer period of an extra hour of daylight just like most of the world, and religious leaders who have argued that continuing the fast later in the evening will cause many people to break the prohibition against eating or drinking on the holy day.

In the past, Daylight Time ended the week before Yom Kippur, and the fast would began around 5 p.m. and end around 6 p.m.

Similarly, Daylight Time used to be postponed until after the Passover holiday so that families would not have to extend the traditional family Seder meal until the later hours, when children were more likely to have fallen asleep instead of participating in the observance. The clocks now move forward at the end of March, regardless of when Passover begins.

“If people can’t pray because of the [new] law, we’ll discuss it again,” commented  Likud Knesset Member Miri Regev in the Knesset.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at last week’s Cabinet meeting, where the measure was approved along with the proposal for exporting natural gas, “We now have a land flowing with milk, gas and sunshine.”

Fast of 17th of Tammuz On Tuesday

Monday, June 24th, 2013

On Tuesday, Jews commemorate the 17th of Tammuz. The day is a fast day in which we recall the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem before the Second Temple’s destruction.

In addition, in Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) 39:2 and 52:6-7 it says that the walls of the First Temple were breached, though the Talmud Yerushalmi 23A says that the actual date was also the 17th of Tammuz.

Four other significant events occured on that day, including Moshe breaking the two Tablets.

The fast marks the beginning of the 3 week period called “Bein haMetzarim” which ends on the fast day of Tisha B’Av, throughout which certain expressions of happiness are reduced.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/fast-of-17th-of-tammuz-on-tuesday/2013/06/24/

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