The Longest Siege
This week, on the tenth day of the Month of Tevet, Jews throughout the world will be fasting as they recall the siege which the Babylonians imposed on Yerushalayim – a siege which eventually led to the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash and a 70-year long exile.
That siege took place thousands of years ago, but in a larger sense it continues into our own day as the longest siege in history. The Iranian nuclear threat and the spread of radical Islamism among Israel's Arab neighbors present a picture of a modern Jewish state under siege.
The purpose of fasting, writes Rambam, is to reflect on the grievous sins committed by our ancestors which brought upon them the Heavenly orchestrated tragedies of siege, destruction and exile. Such reflection will hopefully inspire us to be careful not to repeat those sins but to return to our religious roots.
At a time when the very survival of the Jewish state is threatened, it is our hope that the memory of that first siege will inspire us to mend our ways and bring an end to the longest siege for the sake of Israel forever.