The Full Wiki

Tenth of Tevet: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tenth of Tevet (Hebrew: עשרה בטבת‎, Asarah BeTevet), the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tevet, is a minor- but very important fast day in Judaism. It is a "low fast" observed from sunrise to sunset. The day has no relationship to Hanukkah, but it happens to follow that festival by a week. Whether the 10th of Tevet falls 7 or 8 days after Hanukkah depends on whether the preceding month of Kislev has 29 or 30 days in the relevant year.

In modern times, 10 Tevet is one of the days of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust (the main national remembrance day being Yom HaShoah). Historically, the fast commemorates the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia - an event that began on that date and ultimately culminated in the destruction of Solomon's Temple (the First Temple) and the conquest of the Judah (nowadays: southern Israel).



According to II Kings (25:1-25:4), on the 10th day of the 10th month (which is Tevet when counted from Nisan, the "first month" according to Exodus 12:1-2), in the ninth year of his reign, (588 BCE), Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, began the siege of Jerusalem. Two and a half years later, on the 9th of Tammuz (Jeremiah 52.6-7), he broke through the city walls. The siege ended with the destruction of the Temple three weeks later, on the 9th of Av, the end of the first Kingdoms and the exile of the Jewish people to Babylon. The Tenth of Teves is thus considered part of the cycle of fasts connected with these events, which includes: Shivah Asar B'Tammuz (17th of Tammuz) and Tisha B'Av (9th of Av).

The first reference to the Tenth of Tevet as a fast appears in Zechariah (8:19) where it is called the "fast of the tenth month." One opinion in the Talmud (b. Rosh Hashana 18b) states that the "fast of the tenth month" refers to the fifth of Teves, when, according to Ezekiel (33:21), news of the destruction of the Temple reached those already in exile in Babylon. However, the tenth is the date observed today.[1] Other references to the fast and the affliction can be found in Ezekiel  24:1-24:2 (the siege) and Jeremiah (52:4-52:6).[2]

According to tradition, as described by the liturgy for the day's selichos, the fast also commemorates other calamities that occurred throughout Jewish history on the tenth of Tevet and the two days preceding it:

  • On the eighth of Tevet one year during the 200s BCE, a time of Hellenistic rule of Judea during the Second Temple period, Ptolemy, King of Egypt, ordered the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, a work which later became known as the Septuagint.[3] Seventy sages were placed in solitary confinement and ordered to translate the Torah into Greek. The expected outcome would be a multitude of different translations that would then be compared and critiqued by the Greeks. This would demonstrate the muddled meanings of the Torah and the divergent opinions of Jewish interpreters. However, all seventy sages independently made identical translations into Greek. The Greeks saw this as a most impressive feat. However, various rabbinical sources see this event as a tragedy, a debasement of the divine nature of the Torah, and a subversion of its spiritual qualities. They reasoned that upon translation from the original Hebrew, the Torah's legal codes & deeper layers of meaning would be lost. Many Jewish laws are formulated in terms of specific Hebrew words employed in the Torah; without the original Hebrew code, authenticity of the legal system would be damaged. The mystical ideas contained in the Torah are also drawn from the original Hebrew. As such, these would not be accessed by individuals studying the Torah in Greek (or any other language) alone. Other ancient sources, such as Philo, consider it a miraculous achievement, a cause for jubilation rather than mourning. Philo in fact suggests that the day was marked by celebration.
  • Ezra the Scribe, the great leader who brought some Jews back to the Holy Land from the Babylonian exile and who ushered in the era of the Second Temple, died on the ninth of Tevet.[4]


As with all minor Jewish fast days, the Tenth of Tevet begins at dawn (alos ha-shahar) and concludes at nightfall (tzeis hakochavim). In accordance with the general rules of minor fasts as set forth in the Code of Jewish Law,[5] and in contrast to Tisha B'Av, there are no additional physical constraints beyond fasting (such as the prohibitions against bathing or of wearing leather shoes). Because it is a minor fast day, Halacha exempts from fasting those who are ill, even if their illnesses are not life threatening, and pregnant and nursing women who find fasting difficult.[6]

A Torah reading, a special prayer in the Amidah (Aneinu), and (in many communities) the Avinu Malkeinu prayer are added at both Shacharis and Mincha services (unless the fast falls on Friday, when Tachanun and Avinu Malkeinu are not said at Mincha). At Shacharis services, the Selichos are also said, and at Mincha, in Ashkenazic congregations, the Haftarah is read.[7]

The fast can occur on a Friday resulting in the unusual event of a Torah and Haftarah reading at the Mincha service right before Shabbos. This is a fairly rare occurrence. The last two times this happened were on 20 December 1996 and 5 January 2001; the next time will be on 17 December 2010.

Although this fast is considered a minor fast, it has an additional theoretical stringency not shared by any other fast except Yom Kippur, namely that if the Tenth of Teves were to fall out on a Shabbos, then this fast would actually be observed on Shabbos. This is because of the phrase עצם היום הזה ("the very day") that appears in Ezekiel 24:2, similar to the phrase בעצם היום הזה describing Yom Kippur in Leviticus 23:28. However under the current calendrical scheme, the Tenth of Teves cannot fall on Shabbat.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel chose to observe the Tenth of Teves as a "general kaddish day" for the victims of the Holocaust, many of whom lack identifiable yahrtzeits (anniversaries of their deaths).[8] To some religious Jews, this day is preferable as a remembrance day to Yom HaShoah, since the latter occurs in the month of Nisan, in which mourning was traditionally prohibited.

See also


  1. ^ Tenth of Teves
  2. ^ The Tenth of Tevet – Asarah B'Tevet
  3. ^ Tur Orach Chaim 580, quoting Bahag.
  4. ^ This is what the selichot liturgy for the day states, and this is verified by the Kol Bo. But according to the earlier sources (the Geonim as recorded by Bahag and cited in Tur Orach Chaim 580), the specific tragedy of 9 Tevet is unknown. It should be noted that some manuscripts of Bahag (obviously not those available to the Tur) add that Ezra and Nechemiah died on this day—but only after first stating that the Rabbis have given no reason for why the day is tragic. Other suggestions are given as to why the ninth of Tevet is tragic as well.
  5. ^ Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 549-550, 561-562
  6. ^ Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 550:2. The Mishnah Berurah notes that it is still commendable to observe all the restrictions of Tisha B'Av on the minor fast days. Even so, he says, one should not refrain from bathing in preparation for Shabbos when the Tenth of Teves falls out on a Friday. (The Tenth of Teves because it is the only minor fast day that can coincide with Friday with the current Jewish calendar.)
  7. ^ Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 566
  8. ^ Tevet 10 - Holidays


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address