Thursday was the seventeenth day of Tammuz – shiva esreh ltammuz. It’s a minor festival, commemorating the breach of the walls of
I’ll admit, this time last year I had a five week old baby to contend with and fasting passed me by, it was tough enough keeping my eyes open. This year I was home in the middle of the day to see my, now, one year old son teething. I cut a piece of cucumber for him to suck on. He wasn’t interested, I was about to stick the cucumber in my mouth when I paused. I was fasting this year. Even though the Romans breached the walls of
This is how observance, I think, is supposed to work. It’s easy to mock quaint traditions like fasting on the 17th of Tammuz, abstaining from use of electricity on Shabbat or not eating milk with meat. Expressed without the accompaniment of lived experience all of Judaism can look ridiculous. But from the inside the web of ritual and obligation serves to direct our attention inwards to our national history and our heritage, and outwards to our God and the world in which we live. Our observance of Judaism is supposed to make us more observant, closer watchers of our lives and the lives of our fellows, more careful and thereby more caring. This is why we have, as a people, made such a big issue of the verse-fragment naaseh vnishma – we will do and we will understand. When confronted by the prospect of Torah the Children of Israel accept first and assume understanding will follow. Greater involvement in Judaism doesn’t take a leap of faith, it takes a leap of action.
P.S. This Sunday I am taking part in a sponsored cycle from