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Counting Toward Asarah BiTevet – It Matters To God!

Even Isaiah the Prophet (58:3) asks, “Why, when we fasted, did You not see? When we starved our bodies, did You pay no heed?”

Does our Fasting on Asarah BiTevet matter? Does it accomplish anything for Israel, for me, for Hashem?

The Ramchal (Messilat Yesharim, Chapter 19) assures us that all that we do on the Tenth of Tevet matters, and he bases his teaching on the following idea:

On this our sages said: “who is Pious (a Chasid)? He who is benevolent towards his Maker” (Zohar Beit, Mishpatim 114b). 

Behold, such a Chasid, besides the service which he does in performing his mitzvot with the proper intent, will certainly feel actual pain on the exile and the destruction of the Temple, because these cause a diminishing, so to speak, of the blessed G-d’s honor. 

He will long for the Redemption because then the honor of G-d will be exulted.

This is what the Tana d’Bei Eliyahu we brought earlier said: “and he longs and feels pain over the honor of Jerusalem…” He will pray always for the redemption of Israel and the return of G-d’s honor.

If one will say: “who am I, and what importance am I that I should pray on the exile and Jerusalem? Will the exiles be ingathered and the salvation sprout because of my prayers?!

The answer to him is near [his question], as we learned: “Thus man was created alone, so that each person should say: ‘for my sake the world was created’ ” (Sanhedrin 37a).

Already it brings gratification to G-d, that His children desire and pray for this. 

And even though their request may not be fulfilled, because the proper time has not yet come or for some other reason, nevertheless,

they have done their part and the Holy One, blessed be He, rejoices in this.


On the absence of this, the prophets complained saying: “And He saw that there was no man, and He was astounded for there was no intercessor”(Yeshaya 59:16) and “I looked, and there was none to help; and I was astonished that there was no one to uphold” (Yeshaya 63:5). And it is stated: “it is Zion; no one inquires after her” (Yirmiyahu 30:17), which our sages expounded: “this implies it needs inquiring after” (Sukkah 41a).

Thus we learn from here that we are obligated in this matter, and cannot exempt ourselves due to our lack of power. For on all such matters, we learned: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but neither are you free to abstain from it” (Avot 2:16).

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