Tenth of Tevet: A Fast Day in Commemoration
The 10th of the Jewish month of Tevet (known in Hebrew as Asarah B'Tevet), which this year coincides with Jan. 7, is observed as a day of fasting, mourning and repentance. We refrain from food and drink from daybreak to nightfall, and add Selichot (penitential prayers) and other special supplements to our prayers. The fast ends at nightfall, or as soon as you see three medium-sized stars in the sky. See your local Jewish calendar or an online one (e.g. chabad.org) for exact times.
What tragic event in Jewish history does the 10th of Tevet commemorate?
For years, G-d had sent His prophets to warn Israel about the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple if they didnt mend their ways. But they derided the holy men as bearers of false prophecies of doom, bent on demoralizing the nation. They even went so far as to kill one of the prophets (Zacharia).
Then it finally happened. On the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet, in the year 3336 from Creation (425 BCE), the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem.
Ever patient, G-d delayed the destruction to give the Jews yet another chance to repent. He repeatedly sent the prophet Jeremiah to admonish His nation, but they foolishly had him imprisoned. Thus, 30 months later, on 9 Tammuz 3338, the Babylonians finally broke through, the city walls were breached, and exactly one month after, on 9 Av of that year, the Holy Temple was destroyed and the Jewish people were exiled.
The 10th of Tevet is viewed as the beginning of the chain of events that culminated with the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent exiles, something that we have never fully recovered from, because even when the Second Temple was finally built, it never returned to its full glory.
Also, since the Holocaust, this Fast Day has been the occasion for saying Kaddish for the murdered victims of the evil Nazis whose dates of death are unlnown.