Editor’s note: In response to many requests regarding
what we can do about the present crisis in Israel and the world,
we felt it appropriate to post a letter written by the Rebbe
exactly 27 years ago, addressing precisely this question. The
Rebbe makes several suggestions as to how we should utilize
the fast day of the 10th of Tevet (this Sunday, December
15) to intensify our spiritual security, which in turn reinforces
our material security.
Tevet 10 is observed as a day of fasting, mourning
and repentance, in remembrance of the siege of Jerusalem 2,427
years ago. On the 10th of Tevet 3336 (245 BCE), the armies of
the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar surrounded the walls of
Jerusalem. Thirty months later -- on Tammuz 9, 3338 -- the city
walls were breached, and on Av 9th of that year, the Holy Temple
was destroyed. The Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia for
On this day, we refrain from food and drink from
daybreak to nightfall, and add the Selichot and other
special supplements to our prayers. (More recently, Tevet 10
was chosen to also serve as a "general kaddish day"
for the victims of the Holocaust, many of whom the day of their
martyrdom is unknown).
WHAT YOU CAN DO ON THE 10TH OF TEVET
ABOUT THE SITUATION IN ISRAEL
A Letter from the Rebbe – dated 5th of Tevet, 5736-December
~ Free translation (original is printed in Likkutei Sichos vol.
15 p. 555-557) ~
By the Grace of G-d
3rd Day of Week
5th of Teves, 5736
Greeting and Blessing
… In reply to your inquiry and request for instructions
in connection with the forthcoming fast of Asoro b’Teves
(10th of Teves), in view of the situation in and
around Eretz Yisroel -- --
You will surely be instructed by the Rabbi of
your congregation this coming Shabbos, which is erev Asoro
b’Teves, in his sermon, and in practical terms, since
the essential thing is the deed.
However, since you have also approached me in
this matter, I will set forth, at least, several suggestions
– after the following introductory remarks:
Regrettably, there are people who claim that it
is necessary to think and act “big,” in terms of global dimensions
and stupendous undertakings, etc., etc. Surely they mean
well; and to the extent that such resolutions are practical
and are actually carried out – they are very helpful to improve
Yet, we must never overlook – indeed, rather greatly
emphasize – the so-called “small and unsophisticated” things
which each modest congregation, or even each individual, can
and must do – beginning with the old, yet ever-new, Jewish way,
collectively as one people and also as individuals. This
is the action of hakol kol Yaakov (“the voice is the
voice of Jacob”) – Torah and prayer – which G-d himself has
shown us to be the first effective action to nullify the power
of yedei Eisov (“the hands of Esau”) – in whatever shape
or form they are raised against us.
Certainly this should find the fullest expression
in a day which the Shulchan Aruch declares to be a Day of Fasting,
one to which the prophet Isaiah refers as a “chosen fast … a
fast and time favored by G-d.”
Now, in answer to your inquiry, and since the
Fast of Asoro b’Teves is especially connected with Eretz Yisroel
and the holy city of Jerusalem (recalling the siege of Jerusalem),
my suggestion – in addition to the regular “observances” on
Fast Days, as set forth at length and in detail in Poskim and
in books of Mussar and Chassidus – is as follows:
During this Day – expressly for the sake (zechus)
of the security and strengthening of Eretz Yisroel as well as
in the Diaspora – and particularly for the benefit of our brethren
behind the “Iron Curtain” –
A special effort should be made in the spirit
of “Old Israel” – in the areas of Torah, Tefillah (prayer),
and Tzedoko (charity),
Specifically: After the prayers (both in the morning
and at Mincha) to learn (and where there already are daily study
groups, to add) a subject in Torah, including a halacha pesuka
Immediately following the prayers, even before
learning, to say several chapters of Psalms (in addition to
the regular portion);
Before and after the prayers – to give charity
(in addition to the regular donation), including charity for
a sacred cause or institution in Eretz Yisroel, Eretz haChayim
(“Land of the Living”).
Needless to say, one who repeats the above again
and again in the course of the day, is to be praised,
And each time – the more one adds in these activities
(in quantity and quality), is to be praised all the more.
And, as in all matters of Kedusha (Holiness),
it is desirable that all the above be done in a group (with
at least a Minyan).
May HaShem accept, and He will accept, the prayers
and supplications of Jews wherever they are,
And soon, in our very own days, may the Promise
be fulfilled that “These days will be transformed into days
of rejoicing and gladness,”
With the true and complete Geulah (Redemption)
through our righteous Moshiach.
With esteem and blessing
/Signed: Menachem Schneerson/
Addendum to the letter above –
Excerpt from the Talk of Shabbat Parshat Vayigash 5736
~ Free Translation (original is printed in Likkutei
Sichos vol. 15 p. 558-559) ~
…In response to the queries of some [people] for
more specific instructions regarding the addition in the three
pathways of Torah, prayer and charity explained in the letter
of the 5th of Tevet:
No details were stated intentionally, based on
the directive of our sages that “one should always study Torah
in the place where your heart desires.” Similarly prayer, “service
of the heart” – depends on the feelings of each person’s heart.
And the same is with charity – in the words of the verse: whose
heart impels him to give [thus the Rebbe did not specify which
additional sections in Torah should be studied, which prayers
should be said and what charity should be given, because all
these three activities are dependent on the feelings of each
individual – ed. note].
Nevertheless, since every inspiration requires
details in order for it to be actualized, we can find specific
directives based on the words of our Rebbes our Leaders in similar
situations and in the words of Sages in general:
The suggestion to add in Torah study: According
to the teachings of our Sages that Moses established that the
Jews should study the teachings of each respective day – [the
suggestion is to] study the Laws of Fasting.
And since the ultimate purpose of a fast day is
that it be transformed into joy and gladness and to a holiday
– we should (also) study the end of the Laws of Fasting in the
Rambam’s Sefer HaYad [Mishne Torah], where he discusses the
fulfillment of the promise that the fast days will be transformed
to ‘holidays’ and ‘days of joy and gladness.’
Prayer: Based on the directive of the Rebbe
my father-in-law [Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak] in 5701  to say
the three Psalms – 20, 22, 69 – one can say that also in our
case the additional prayer should consist of saying these three
Even though the present situation is not at all
as severe, G-d forbid, as it was then, yet it is still appropriate
today to make an additional effort beyond the conventional etc.
Charity: The siege of the walls surrounding
Jerusalem began on the 10th of Tevet. Accordingly,
based on the words of our Sages “I am your wall – this is Torah”
– charity should be given to a Torah organization, and more
specifically – (also) to literally help build a ‘wall’ – charity
to construct a Torah building (or for the maintenance and repairs
of an existing building).
There is a virtue in the charity outside of Eretz
Yisroel and a virtue in the charity given for Eretz Yisroel.
Its is therefore appropriate to give [the additional charity]
both for a Torah organization outside of Eretz Yisroel and for
a Torah organization in Eretz Yisroel, which will be rebuilt
by our Righteous Moshiach.
To help the present crisis in Israel, each of
us should add on the 10th of Tevet (this coming Sunday,
December 15) in:
of Torah. Specifically: The laws regarding fasting, including
the end of Maimonides Laws of Fasting.
Specifically, the three Psalms, 20 22 and 69.
Specifically, to help build [the walls of] a Torah organization
(or help in its repairs and maintenance), both inside and
outside of Israel.
more you add in these three activities the better it is.