2. The pain and mourning of these days has the power to raise us spiritually beyond our spiritual shortcomings and character flaws that originally brought about Jerusalem’s destruction. Through repentance (introspection and resolving to improve) we get the ability to take the sadness and turn it into happiness. The prophets promise that these sad days will turn into days of happiness. Our sages explain that the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av will be national holidays and the 3 weeks in the middle will be like intermediary days.
3. 5 tragedies befell the Jewish nation on the 17th of Tammuz:
Moses broke the two tablets he received at Mount Sinai
The daily offering was discontinued from the temple service in the first temple
Jerusalem’s walls were breached and our enemies poured into the city
A Roman General Apostomus burned a Torah scroll
An idol was placed in the Holy temple
4. The purpose of a fast is to make a personal accounting. A fast is supposed to arouse a person’s heart to contemplate on the bad things that befell our nation that day which brought about the fast. Every person should try to feel the pain of the fast day and think about how he/she can learn more and do more mitzvoth and good deeds to speed up the redemption’s coming.
5. The fast starts on Tuesday early morning at 3:52 am and ends at 20:04 and 20:08 pm. Each locale should check its calendar for times.
6. We say the ‘Aneinu’ prayer which means ‘Answer me’ as part of our Amidah prayer. We ask G-d to answer us on this fast day.
7. We add the ‘Avinu Malkeinu’ prayer at the end of the amidah repetition in the morning and afternoon prayers which has many requests for compassion from G-d and is considered a powerful prayer.
8. We say ‘Selichot’ in the Morning Prayer. ‘Selichot’ are supplications generally written in rhyme form and each fast day has its own set of unique prayers related to the events that took place on that day.
9. People who needn’t fast include: pregnant and nursing women, the elderly who are infirm, or any weak or sick person. The food eaten should be basic and not something indulgent like chocolate. Children whom are also exempt from fasting should be educated not to have sweets and other indulgences not suitable for a fast day.
10. The Talmud tells us: “Whoever shares in the pain of the community will share in its solace.” It also says: “Anyone who mourns for Jerusalem will merit and see its’ being rebuilt.”
May it be G-d’s will that we witness the words of the prophet Zachariah: So says G-d the Lord of Hosts, the fast of the 4th month (17th of Tammuz) the fast of the 5th month (9th of Av), the fast of the 7th month (the fast of Gedaliah) and the fast of the 10th month (the 10th of Tevet) shall all become for the house of Judah happiness, gladness and good holidays.”