Tenth of Tevet: Fasting V
The Fast of the Tenth of Tevet is usually understood as a minor fast. However, it is far from a secondary fast. It is the only fast that, were it possible for it to fall out on Shabbat, which it cannot, we would do as we do on Yom Kippur and fast on Shabbat. As it is, Asara B’Tevet is the only fast we observe even on a Friday. (Abudirham)
It is a fast caused by insensitivity. The Kabbalists (B’nei Yisaschar) considered the tragedy to be rooted in the sin of Micha’s Molten Image (Judges, Chapter 17). Micha situated the temple of his idol in such a way that the smoke of the offerings would mingle in the air with the smoke rising from the Tabernacle in Shiloh. The people of Israel and their leaders witnessed this terrible sacrilege and did nothing. They ignored the insult to God. They were insensitive to God’s honor and Glory.
The Babylonians began their siege of Jerusalem on the Tenth of Tevet. The inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem had ample opportunity to acknowledge the danger and recognize the truth of Jeremiah’s decades of warnings. They remain insensitive to the events happening to them. Their ears were shut to the words of the prophet. Jeremiah instructed them to surrender and save God’s home, but they refused to listen, and the siege eventually led to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
The objective of this day is to use the abstention from the physical, which is considered to cloud our spiritual antennae, to focus on paying attention to other people, to the messages God sends to us as individuals and the telltale signs He sends to all of Israel.