The siege on Jerusalem began on this day and the temple was also in danger. The long route of exile began on this day. The Chasam Sofer writes that if this day would fall out on Shabbat we would fast, (however it never does fall out on Shabbat). That puts it up there with Yom Kippur which is the only fast that we fast on Shabbat. But how can it be more important than Tisha B’Av when the temple actually was destroyed? Tisha B’Av that falls out on Shabbat isn’t fasted it is deferred to Sunday? The Chasam Sofer says that on the Tenth of Tevet the heavenly court convened and discussed if the temple should be destroyed and that’s when they decreed on high to destroy the temple.
This teaches us a siege is merely a warning sign to repent it is not a guarantee of destruction. On Hanukkah the Greeks also laid siege to Jerusalem but we repented and a woman named Yehudit killed the Greek general which was one of the miracles of Hanukkah.
Unfortunately we didn’t totally repent and the temple was ultimately destroyed by the Romans. So the Tenth of Tevet hints at the judgement on high allowing the temple’s destruction. The siege is also a reminder to repent and that we are still able to right the wrongs. We can still ask that this year G-d make our Tisha B’Av into a holiday instead of a fast.
More than this: The 10th of Tevet is the day the heavenly court convenes just as it did millennia ago to decide on the destruction of the temple, only now they convene to decide if the temple should be rebuilt this year. Will our exile end this year or not? These decisions are made on the Tenth of Tevet. That is why we would fast it even on Shabbat if it ever fell out on Shabbat. It is similar to a fast over a bad dream which is also permitted on Shabbat. Why? Because someone who has a bad dream is being judged and in order to sweeten the judgement he can fast. Likewise the 10th of Tevet is as much a fast for the future as it is for the past. It can sweeten future judgements and bring the redemption. The other fasts are about the past and we don’t do them on Shabbat.
Rabbi Elimelech Biderman says we should arouse ourselves on this day, it’s not just a fast day but a day where any action any Jew does can tip the scales in our favor or G-d forbid the opposite. The temples were destroyed because of our unwarranted hatred of one another; exile was decreed along with the pain of loneliness and doubt which all come from this hatred.
We at times have situations where we are more prone to speak lashon hara. Whenever there is upheaval people may talk about others but we needn’t allow it into our homes. It’s also not healthy to jump for every piece of gossip we can set an example to our children with our restraint. All the upheaval outside is just a sign of the redemption coming, it’s not a signal to let our tongues wag freely; that would just bring about the hatred we are trying to avoid.
If you’re caught in such a situation what do you do? You give small injections of love for others, forgiveness and giving the benefit of the doubt to all those around you; your husband, your family, neighbors and friends. Every little bit will add up and tip the scales in our favor.
The Tenth of Tevet is a fast day but it’s a day of hope and prayer for the future, the day which became the root of the destruction. We can fix the trouble at its source on this day by getting rid of the hate we may harbour inside us. We can look at what we can fix inside us and our work on it will help tip the scales and make the upcoming Tisha B’Av a day of happiness. Women, please take the time to say psalms and do some personal introspection on this lofty day. May we merit the rebuilding of the Temple in our days.