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Zedekiah is chained and brought before Nebuchadnezzar

A man of incorruptible character, great compassion, deep vision and erudition and inspirational charisma, Ezra the Scribe is responsible for the survival of Judaism and the Jews till this very day. It is no wonder therefore that Jews marked the day of his death as a sad day on the Jewish calendar. Since fasting on the eighth, ninth and 10th days of Tevet consecutively would be unreasonable, the events of the eighth and ninth were subsumed into the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet.



The rabbinic policy has been to attach other sad commemorations onto the established fast days, so as not to fill the calendar with so many days of sad remembrances. Thus the memorial for the destruction of the Jewish communities of Worms, Speyers and Mainz by the Crusaders in 1096 is marked on the fast day of Tisha B’Av, even though that destruction actually took place in other months.

This policy of minimizing the number of days of commemoration of sad events became accepted practice throughout the Jewish world until the Holocaust. However, the enormity of the tragedy of the Holocaust subsumed everything that preceded it in the story of the Jewish people in the Diaspora. Hence, it is understandable why the Knesset would look to designate a specific day alone for Holocaust remembrance. Nevertheless, the rabbinic policy of minimizing days of tragic remembrances played a role in assigning the Holocaust remembrance to the Tenth of Tevet for a large section of the Israeli population.

May we only commemorate days of goodness in our future.


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Rabbi Berel Wein is an internationally acclaimed scholar, lecturer, and writer whose audiotapes on Torah and other Jewish subjects have garnered a wide following, as have his books, which include a four-volume series on Jewish history. Formerly an executive vice president of the Orthodox Union and rabbinic administrator of the OU’s kashrus division, he founded Yeshiva Shaarei Torah of Rockland in 1977 and moved to Israel in 1997.