The Fast of Tammuz 17

Shiva Asar B'Tammuz - שבעה עשר בתמוז

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)


I. Introduction. 1

II. Why do we fast on Tammuz 17?. 2

III. The breaking of the "Luchot". 3

IV. The discontinuance of the Korban Tamid. 4

V. Breaching of the wall around Jerusalem.. 5

VI. Apostamus-the-Wicked burned a Sefer Torah. 5

VII. The Placing of an Idol in the Sanctuary. 6

VIII. Tammuz 17 events. 7

IX.  Fasts Related to The Temple. 7

X. The fast 7

XI. Measure for measure. 8

XII. The laws of the fast 9

XIII. Readings. 12

XIV. From My Teacher 12


I. Introduction


In this study I would like to study the Fast of the Fourth month, the Fast of Tammuz 17.


שבעה עשר בתמוז - Shiva Asar B'Tammuz (Fast of the 17th of Tammuz) is a Rabbinic fast day that occurs on Tammuz 17 (in June or July). The 17th of Tammuz is a day-fast commemorating the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people on this day. This day is celebrated by the fast, special prayers, and the beginning of the Three Weeks (the annual period of mourning over the destruction of the First and Second Temples).


Tammuz 17, 5771 is on July 19, 2011.


Tammuz 17, 5772 is on July 8, 2012 (fast deferred).


Shiva Asar B'Tammuz begins a three week national period of semi-mourning which culminates with the ninth of Av (Tisha B’Av). It is a period where many tragedies have historically occurred.


This period of tragedies is an ongoing process designed to bring us to repentance for our sins. The destruction of the two Temples was a gradual process and could have been stopped at any point if we would simply return to the ways of HaShem. The way of HaShem is to bring punishment in stages in order for us to perceive our wicked ways and return to Him.


As we return, in the spiral of time, to the energies of this time, we must observe the unfolding drama and use it as a wakeup call in order that this year, at this time, we may see the fulfillment of this prophecy:


Zechariah 8:18-19 Again the word of the HaShem Almighty came to me. This is what the HaShem Almighty says: "The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace."


Thus the Prophet teaches us that when we repent and turn from our wayward ways, then this time of mourning will be turned into a time of joy.


Shiva Asar B'Tammuz is known in the Tanach[1] as the fast of the fourth month, as we can see from the preceding pasuk.


Tammuz is the fourth month counting from Nisan:














This unfolding drama, this tragedy of Shiva Asar B'Tammuz, and turning it to a time of joy, is aptly shown to us by HaShem, through His prophet:


Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah) 32:1-18 The word that came to Jeremiah from HaShem in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which [was] the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. For then the king of Babylon's army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which [was] in the king of Judah's house. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith HaShem, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes; And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith HaShem: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper. And Jeremiah said, The word of HaShem came unto me, saying, Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that [is] in Anathoth: for the right of redemption [is] thine to buy [it]. So Hanameel mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of HaShem, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that [is] in Anathoth, which [is] in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance [is] thine, and the redemption [is] thine; buy [it] for thyself. Then I knew that this [was] the word of HaShem. And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle's son, that [was] in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, [even] seventeen shekels of silver. And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed [it], and took witnesses, and weighed [him] the money in the balances. So I took the evidence of the purchase, [both] that which was sealed [according] to the law and custom, and that which was open: And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle's [son], and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison. And I charged Baruch before them, saying, Thus saith HaShem of hosts, the G-d of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days. For thus saith HaShem of hosts, the G-d of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land. Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto HaShem, saying, Ah Lord HaShem! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, [and] there is nothing too hard for thee: Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty G-d, HaShem of hosts, [is] his name,


We learn from the above that the destruction was done in stages, allowing them to halt or alter it.


When we reach the critical month of "Tammuz", we must remember just what was it that precipitated our downfall. Teshuva, repentance, can be effected even at the last minute of adversity. We can turn the tide, now is a propitious time for teshuva.


II. Why do we fast on Tammuz 17?


The Talmud explains that we fast because of the five tragedies that befell the nation of Israel on this day:




The five tragedies mentioned in the Gemara are:


1. The "Luchot," the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were engraved, were broken by Moshe;


2. The Korban Tamid, the continual daily sacrifice, was discontinued;


3. The wall around the city of Jerusalem was breached;


4. Apostamus burnt the Torah scroll;


5. An idolatrous image was placed in the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple.


The Talmud tells us the source of our knowledge that these things happened on this day:


Ta'anith 28b FIVE MISFORTUNES BEFELL OUR FATHERS ON THE SEVENTEENTH OF TAMMUZ etc. Whence is it known that the Tables [of the Law] were shattered [on the seventeenth of Tammuz]? For it has been taught: On the sixth of the month [of Sivan] the Ten Commandments were given to Israel; R. Jose says: On the seventh of the month. He who says that they were given on the sixth takes the view that on the sixth they were given and on the seventh Moshe ascended the mount. And he who says that they were given on the seventh holds that they were given on the seventh and on the seventh Moshe ascended the mount. For it is written, And the seventh day he called unto Moshe, and it is further written, And Moshe entered into the midst of the cloud, and went up into the mount; and Moshe was in the mount forty days and forty nights. The [remaining] twenty-four days of Sivan and the sixteen days of Tammuz make altogether forty. On the seventeenth of Tammuz he came down [from the mountain] and shattered the Tables, as it is written, And it came to pass as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf . . . and he cast the tables out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mount.




A BREACH WAS MADE IN THE CITY. Did this then happen on the seventeenth? Is it not written, In the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city etc., and in the following verse it is written, Then a breach was made in the city etc.! — Raba said: This is no contradiction. The one refers to the First Temple and the other to the Second Temple. For it has been taught: In the First Temple the breach was made in the city on the ninth of Tammuz, but in the Second Temple on the seventeenth of Tammuz.




AND PLACED AN IDOL IN THE TEMPLE. Whence do we know this? — For it is written, And from the time that the continual burnt-offering shall be taken away and the detestable thing that causeth appalment set up. Was there then only one detestable thing? Is it not written, And upon the wing of detestable things shall be that which causeth appalment? — Raba replied: There were two [idols] and one fell upon the other and broke its hand and upon it was found inscribed You desired to destroy the Temple, but I have handed over your hand to Him.


Now that we have introduced the five significant events of Tammuz 17, lets examine them in greater detail and see if we can understand why these five are so significant.


III. The breaking of the "Luchot"


We know that the tablets of stone, the luchot, were broken on this day by simple mathematics. Moshe went up Mount Sinai, on the seventh of Sivan, the day after HaShem spoke the "ten commandments":


Exodus 24:16 And the glory of HaShem settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day HaShem called to Moshe from within the cloud.


We also know that Moshe was up on the mountain for forty days and forty nights:


Exodus 24:18 Then Moshe entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.


Sivan had thirty days that year, so we have 24 days of Sivan plus the first 16 days of Tammuz. Moshe, therefore, came down from the mountain on Tammuz 17. When Moshe came down, he broke the two stone tablets:


Exodus 32:19 When Moshe approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.


The Talmud confirms this understanding:


Yoma 4b In what do R. Jose the Galilean and R. Akiba differ? — In the controversy of these Tannaim. For we have been taught: On the sixth day of the month was the Torah given to Israel. R. Jose says on the seventh. He who says that the Torah was given on the sixth day holds that on the sixth it was given and on the seventh Moshe ascended the mountain; he who holds that the Torah was given on the seventh assumes that on the seventh both the Torah was given and Moshe ascended, as it is written, And He called unto Moshe on the seventh day. Now R. Jose the Galilean is of the same opinion as the first Tanna, who held that the Torah was given on the sixth of the month, therefore this happened after the giving of the Ten Commandments: ‘The glory of the Lord abode on mount Sinai and the cloud covered him six days’ ‘him’ meaning Moshe- ‘And He called unto Moshe on the seventh day’ to receive the remainder of the Torah. For if the thought should come to you that ‘And the glory of the Lord abode’ from the New Moon [of Sivan], so that ‘And the cloud covered him’ referred to the mountain, and ‘The Lord called unto Moshe on the seventh day’ to receive the Ten Commandments, surely they had received the Torah on the sixth day already and also the cloud had departed on the sixth day! — R. Akiba, however, held with R. Jose that the Torah was given to Israel on the seventh. Quite in accord with R. Akiba's teaching is the statement that the Tablets were broken on the seventeenth of Tammuz, for the twenty-four days of Sivan and the sixteen of Tammuz make up the forty days he was on the mountain, and on the seventeenth of Tammuz he went down and came to break the Tablets. But according to R. Jose the Galilean who holds that there were six days of the separation in addition to forty days [spent] on the mountain, the Tablets could not have been broken before the twenty-third of Tammuz? — R. Jose the Galilean will answer you: The six days of the separation are included in the forty days on the mountain.


IV. The discontinuance of the Korban Tamid


The next tragedy the Talmud discusses is the discontinuation of the Tamid offering. The Talmud tells us that we know this happened on this day because we have a tradition from our forefathers that this is so. Rashi explains that the reason why the sacrifice was no longer brought was because the government at the time forbade it.


The Talmud provides some insight into why the korban tamid (the morning and evening offering) was stopped:


Baba Kama 82b IT IS NOT RIGHT TO BREED PIGS IN ANY PLACE WHATEVER. Our Rabbis taught: When the members of the Hasmonean house were contending with one another, Hyrcanus was within and Aristobulus without [the city wall]. [Those who were within] used to let down to the other party every day a basket of denarii, and [in return] cattle were sent up for the regular sacrifices. There was, however, an old man [among the besiegers] who had some knowledge in Grecian Wisdom and who said to them: ‘So long as the other party [are allowed to] continue to perform the service of the sacrifices they will not be delivered into your hands.’ On the next day when the basket of denarii was let down, a swine was sent up. When the swine reached the centre of the wall it stuck its claws into the wall, and Eretz Yisrael quaked over a distance of four hundred parasangs by four hundred parasangs. It was proclaimed on that occasion: Cursed be the man who would breed swine and cursed be the man who would teach his son Grecian Wisdom.


From this day until the end of the siege, the daily offering was not brought.


V. Breaching of the wall around Jerusalem


The Talmud then discusses the tragedy of the wall of Jerusalem being breached, the event which led to the over-running of Jerusalem by our oppressors and the eventual destruction of the Temples. The Talmud notes that there is an inconsistency between Ta'anith 26b and the verse in Yirmeyahu 52:6, which implies that the wall was breached on the ninth of Tammuz, not the seventeenth as the Talmud says.


Jeremiah 52:6-7 By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled. They left the city at night through the gate between the two walls near the king's garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah,


The Talmud resolves this inconsistency by explaining that the verse in Yirmeyahu is referring to the time of the first Temple, while our Mishna is referring to the time of the second Temple. If that is the case, why do we fast only on the 17th of Tammuz, and not on the ninth as well?


The Talmud Yerushalmi, the Jerusalem Talmud, explains that in reality, the breach of the walls occurred on the 17th during both eras. However, in the time of the first Temple, because of the stress and upheaval of the time, the people became confused and miscalculated the days in the calendar. Therefore, they thought the breach occurred on the ninth. Yirmeyahu, when recording the event, wrote it down according to the erroneous calculation of the people, which was the prevalent belief as to the date of occurrence. The Tur[2] writes that the breaches did occur on different dates. However, because having two fasts in such close proximity would be a burden on the community, only one fast day was established. The fast day was established on the day the wall was breached at the time of the second Temple because the tragedy was greater regarding its impact on us: the exile that began at that time is the exile we currently live in.


VI. Apostamus-the-Wicked burned a Sefer Torah


The burning of the Torah by Apostamus is recorded in the Talmud as an event that happened on the seventeenth of Tammuz. We learn that this was a tradition from our forefathers. The Talmud does not tell us who Apostamus was, or what the significance of the Torah scroll was.


Some sources claim that Apostamus was a Roman general and that this event occurred just prior to the Bar Kochba revolt. Other sources claim that Apostamus was a general of Antiochus and that this event occurred ca. 168 BCE.


This story is recorded in the Talmud Yerushalmi[3], that Apostamus burned the Torah at the crossroads of Lod, while our Hakhamim[4] say it was at the crossroads of Tarlusa.


Josephus[5] gives us some insight into this period:


Now before this their first mourning was over, another mischief befell them also; for some of those that raised the foregoing tumult, when they were traveling along the public road, about a hundred furlongs from the city, robbed Stephanus, a servant of Caesar, as he was journeying, and plundered him of all that he had with him; which things when Cureanus heard of, he sent soldiers immediately, and ordered them to plunder the neighboring villages, and to bring the most eminent persons among them in bonds to him. Now as this devastation was making, one of the soldiers seized the laws of Moses (Torah scroll) that lay in one of those villages, and brought them out before the eyes of all present, and tore them to pieces; and this was done with reproachful language, and much scurrility; which things when the Jews heard of, they ran together, and that in great numbers, and came down to Cesarea, where Cumanus then was, and besought him that he would avenge, not themselves, but God himself, whose laws had been affronted; for that they could not bear to live any longer, if the laws of their forefathers must be affronted after this manner. Accordingly Cumanus, out of fear lest the multitude should go into a sedition, and by the advice of his friends also, took care that the soldier who had offered the affront to the laws should be beheaded, and thereby put a stop to the sedition which was ready to be kindled a second time.


The Tiferet Israel offers two possible explanations as to the significance of the scroll. One is that this scroll was the one written by Ezra HaSofer, Ezra the Scribe. The text was the most authoritative, and all other Torah scrolls that were written were checked against this one for accuracy and errors. Another understanding is that he burnt every Torah scroll he could find. No matter the explanation, the intent behind Apostamus' actions remain the same: To eradicate Torah from the nation of Israel.


VII. The Placing of an Idol in the Sanctuary


The Talmud tells that the event found in Daniel 12:11 occurred on the 17th of Tammuz:


Daniel 12:11 "From the time that the daily (tamid) sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation (an idolatrous image) is set up, there will be 1,290 days.


Arachin 11b Come and hear: R. Jose said, Good things are brought about on a good [auspicious] day, and evil ones on a bad one. It is said, The day on which the first Temple was destroyed was the ninth of Ab, and it was at the going out of the Sabbath, and at the end of the seventh [Sabbatical] year. The [priestly] guard was that of Jehojarib, the priests and Levites were standing on their platform singing the song. What song was it? And He hath brought upon them their iniquity, and will cut them off in their evil. They had no time to complete [the psalm with] ‘The Lord our God will cut them off’, before the enemies came and overwhelmed them. The same happened the second time [the second Sanctuary's destruction]. Now what need was there for song? Would you say that it was on account of the [daily] burnt-offering? But that could not be, for on the seventeenth of Tammuz the continual sacrifice had been abolished. Hence it was on account of a freewill burnt-offering! But how could you think so? Why should an obligatory-offering have been impossible and a freewill-offering available? — That is no difficulty: A young ox may accidentally have come to them!


As the verse says that "on the day the Tamid offering ceased to be brought, an idolatrous image was placed in the Temple." Although the Talmud here does not mention who placed the idol in the Temple, the Talmud Yerushalmi mentions that there is debate as to who did it. Some say that Apostamus placed the idol in the Temple as well as burning the Torah scroll. Others say it was placed by Menashe, an evil Jewish king, in the time of the first Temple.


VIII. Tammuz 17 events


Noach sent out the first dove to see if the Flood waters had receded, in 1650. Bereshit 8:8


Joseph and Samuel are born. It is 40 weeks after Tishri 1.


Moses' spies search out the promised land. Day 19  Numbers 13, 14 Taanit 29a


The sin of he golden calf is committed.  Shemot 32:20, Seder Olam 6, Taanit 30b - Rashi


Moses breaks the tablets containing the Ten Commandments, after forty days on Mt. Sinai.  Exodus 24:18 - 31:18, Taanit 28b


Levites kill 3000 Israelites and become set apart to HaShem.  Exodus 32:25-29


Cessation of the daily sacrifice in the first temple in 3184. Taanit 28b


Jerusalem walls destroyed. Titus takes the outer city. Tamid offering ceased.   Erachin 11b


King Menashe  had an idol placed in the Holy Sanctuary of the Temple. Melachim II 21:7


Apostamus, captain of the occupation forces, publicly burned the Torah. Masechet Taanit 28b


Titus and Rome breached the walls of Jerusalem in 3760.  Taanit 28b


Fast of Tammuz. the beginning of bein ha-mezarim, a three-week period of semi-mourning for the destruction of the Temple.


This is the fast of the fourth month.  Zechariah 9:19


The Declaration of Independence was announced on July 4, 1776.


In 1239, Pope Gregory IX ordered the confiscation of all manuscripts of the Talmud.


In 1391, more than 4,000 Spanish Jews were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain.


In 1559 the Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned and looted.


In 1944, the entire population of the Kovno ghetto was sent to the death camps.


In 1970, Libya ordered the confiscation of all Jewish property.


IX.  Fasts Related to The Temple


In our calendar, there are four fast days which directly relate to the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash and Jerusalem under the Babylonians during the latter half of the sixth century BCE:


Asarah B'Tevet (Tevet 10 - in the winter), when the siege of the city by the Babylonians began;


Shivah Asar B'Tammuz, when the walls of the city were breached, several years after the beginning of the siege;


Tisha B'Av (Av 9 - summer), when the Beit haMikdash was destroyed by the Babylonians.


Tzom Gedaliah (Tishri 3 - fall) when the Judean governor was assassinated in an Ammonite-generated plot. This brought about the end of Jewish autonomy under the Babylonians.


X. The fast


Shiva Asar B'Tammuz is a fast day. The fast begins approximately an hour before sunrise and continuing until about an hour after sunset (some say at dusk). The primary purpose of the fast is to awaken our hearts to teshuva, to repentance. We must spend the day recalling our transgressions and the transgressions of our forefathers. We must spend the day concentrating on these manners and not seeking our own pleasure. The Torah tells us what to do if we are to avoid the tragedies of our forefathers:


Leviticus 26:40-42 "'But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers--their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, Which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies--then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.


The essential purpose of a fast day is to motivate us to repent. Fasting is the means to the end, not the end itself!


XI. Measure for measure


Is it possible to show that the events of Tammuz 17 were a punishment that was "measure for measure"? Do these events also show a measure-for-measure relationship to the Second Temple?


1. The "Luchot," the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were engraved, were broken by Moshe;


2. The Korban Tamid, the continual daily sacrifice, was discontinued;


3. The walls of Jerusalem were breached during the Roman siege of the city (in 70 CE);


4. The Greek ruler Apostamus publicly burned the Torah scroll;


5. Menashe, a king of Judea in the First Temple period, erected an idolatrous image on the Temple grounds.[6]


Let us examine the original sin of Tammuz the 17th. The Children of Israel were confused by what they considered Moshe's tardiness in coming down from Mount Sinai at the end of the prescribed forty day period. They assumed that Moshe had died. They decided to create a golden calf to take his place:


Shemot (Exodus) 32:1 "Get up and make a god for us, for we do not know what happened to this man Moshe who took us out of Egypt".


Later, they declared this golden calf to be their new god. They worshipped the golden calf and sacrificed to it:


Shemot (Exodus) 32:4-6 And he received [them] at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw [it], he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow [is] a feast to HaShem. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.


While still encamped before Mount Sinai, they rejected HaShem Who had taken them out of the land of Egypt, led them through the desert, and given them the Torah! As it says:


Tehillim (Psalms) 106:20 "They exchanged their Glory (=HaShem) for an image of a grass-eating ox."


When Moshe observed the worship of the golden calf, he threw the Tablets from his hands and shattered them:


Shemot (Exodus) 32:19 And the tables [were] the work of G-d, and the writing [was] the writing of G-d, graven upon the tables.


With this in mind, we can understand how the punishments of Tammuz 17, midda kneged midda, measure for measure, through the ages correspond to the original sin of that day. The most obvious one of the four punishments listed, is that of Menashe's placement of an idol in the Temple. Menashe's placement of the idol in the Temple symbolized making the worship of his image a replacement for that of HaShem in His Holy Temple. This was a just punishment for the Children of Israel, who had done the same with the worship of the Golden Calf before Mount Sinai, centuries earlier.


The daily Tamid sacrifice personified the service of HaShem in the Temple. When this was discontinued, the situation paralleled the discontinuation of the worship of HaShem by the Jews who worshipped the Golden Calf at Mount Sinai.


The burning of the Torah by Apostamus paralleled the sin of the Golden Calf in a different way. When Moshe saw that his people had committed such a terrible sin he shattered the Tablets, as has been mentioned. As a punishment for bringing about the destruction of HaShem's Tablets of the law, the Jews of a future era had HaShem's Torah burned before them by a blasphemous ruler.


The breach in the walls of Jerusalem may also be shown to parallel the original sin of Tammuz 17. The Gemara[7] tells us that the righteous people and Torah scholars of the generation provide protection to all members of the community, just as a city wall does. For this reason, the Talmud says that scholars do not have to contribute to the expense of building defensive ramparts around their home towns, their Torah study is their share in the city's defense. As the Gemara expounds on a verse from Shir HaShirim:


Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) 8:10 "I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers" .


Bava Batra 7b R. Judah the Prince levied the impost for the wall on the Rabbis. Said Resh Lakish: The Rabbis do not require the protection [of a wall], as it is written, If I should count them, they are more In number than the sand. Who are these that are counted? Shall I say the righteous, and that they are more in number than the sand? Seeing that of the whole of Israel it is written that they shall be like the sand on the sea shore, how can the righteous alone be more than the sand? — What the verse means, however, is I shall count the deeds of the righteous and they will be more in number than the sand. If then the sand which is the lesser quantity protects [the land] against the sea, how much more must the deeds of the righteous, which are a larger quantity, protect them? When Resh Lakish came before R. Johanan, the latter said to him: Why did you not derive the lesson from this verse, I am a wall and my breasts are like towers, where ‘I am a wall’ refers to the Torah ‘ and ‘my breasts are like towers’ to the students of the Torah? — Resh Lakish, however, adopts the exposition [of this verse] given [also] by Raba, viz. that ‘I am a wall’ refers to the community of Israel, and ‘my breasts are like towers’, to synagogues and houses of study.


"I am a wall" - this refers to the Torah, which affords protection to its people. "My breasts are like towers" - this refers to Torah scholars.


The Children of Israel, when they rejected the leadership of Moshe and chose a Golden Calf to lead them instead, were showing disdain for the ultimate scholar of the Torah. Also, their sin caused the shattering of the Tablets of the Torah themselves. Since Torah scholars are compared to city walls, a fitting punishment for their sin was that the Jews of Jerusalem in a future generation had their protective wall breached on the anniversary of the original sinful deed.


XII. The laws of the fast


The fast of Tammuz 17 is observed only from the break of dawn till sundown.


We are to exercise leniency towards the sick. The sick should not fast even if there is no danger.


Pregnant women and nursing mothers are released from the obligation to fast, if they find the fast difficult. Those released from the fast should not indulge in feasting.


Minors are released from the obligation to fast. If they are old enough, they should be trained to eat only simple foods.


One is permitted to wash and oil the body, and to wear leather shoes. Those who are spiritually sensitive should be stringent towards washing and oiling the body.


There are additional prayers to be recited as part of shacharit[8] and mincha.[9]


The following restrictions for the three weeks between Tammuz 17 and Tisha B'Av, should also be observed on Tammuz 17:


Weddings are not held. We refrain from listening to music, dancing, taking pleasure trips, and from getting shaves or haircuts. These are all done to lessen our rejoicing.


We avoid buying new clothes or eating new fruit in order to avoid saying Shehecheyanu. If we are faced with a mitzva that will pass, such as a brit milah, circumcision, or Pidyon Haben, the redemption of the firstborn, then the blessing is made. If the time for a new fruit will pass, it is customary to save the fruit for Shabbat and to do the Shehecheyanu blessing.


During this three week period, we should be even more careful to avoid dangerous situations. Teachers should not strike their pupils, even lightly, nor should parents strike their children.


The Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, advises us to avoid court cases.


Pious folks set aside time to contemplate and reflect over the destruction of both Temples.


Forbidden also is the paring of nails only during the week in which Tisha B'Av occurs. However, a woman, for the requirements of ritual immersion, is permitted to pare her nails. A mohel is likewise allowed to fix his nails for the requirements of circumcision.


For a person, who shaves daily and is required to do so during this period for reasons of business or financial loss, should, nevertheless, refrain from Rosh Chodesh Av or at least during the week in which Tisha B'Av occurs.


At a circumcision that occurs during the nine days between the Rosh Chodesh and Tisha B'Av, it is customary for the mohel, the sandek, and the parents of the infant to don the Sabbath clothes, but the one who brings in the infant is forbidden to do. However, the woman who brings in the infant customarily wears her Sabbath apparel, as that is the only part of the rite that she can perform. The above may have their hair cut before Shabbat Chazon[10], but not thereafter.


Most poskim hold that both men and women are included in this halacha of haircuts. However, notes Rabbi Shimon D. Eider, "If a woman has excess hair around her temples, it may be permissible for her to remove it. A married woman or one of marriageable age may shave her legs even during the Nine Days."


On the three Sabbaths, occurring between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B'Av, we read for the Haftorot the three “Prophecies of Doom”:


“Divre Yirmeyahu” (the words of Jeremiah) (Jeremiah 1:1);


“Shimeu devar Adonai” (hear the word of the Lord) (Jeremiah 2:4); and


“Chazon Yeshayahu” (the vision of Isaiah) (Isaiah 1:1).


If by error we have read the regular Haftorot of the weekly portion, on the first Sabbath, then both Haftorot, Divre Yirmeyahu and Shimeu devar Adonai should be read on the second Sabbath, as they are close to one another. If Rosh Chodesh Av occurs on Shabbat, the Haftorah HaShamayim kisei (the heaven is my throne)[11] should be read. There are communities, however, where the Haftorah Shimeu devar Adonai is read.


In many communities, the custom on Shabbat Chazon is to call the Rav for Maftir. In many communities, the Haftorah is read with the niggun of Eicha (Lamentations). Although a minor may be called for Maftir for most Haftorot, he should not be called for this Haftorot.


As the month of Av arrives, mirth lessens. We must not build any amusement house, not even a house for our own comfort. Therefore, a pleasure of vacation home, patio and the like may not be constructed during the Nine Days. If we have made a contract with a non-Jew to decorate our house, we should endeavor to induce the contractor, by offering him a small compensation, to postpone the work until after Tisha B'Av. If, however, the work cannot be postponed, it may be performed. If a Jew has a lawsuit against a non-Jew, he should try to postpone it, because of the judgment period, either to the end of the month, or at least until after Tisha B'Av. The moon should not be consecrated before the ninth day of Av has passed.


During The Nine Days all forms of business should be decreased, except when there will be a great loss in business. In this regard, notes Rabbi Shimon D. Eider, a well-respected halachic authority, “If one would decrease his business during this period and it may permanently affect his livelihood, the minhag is to permit active business involvement.”


The prevailing custom in all Israel is to abstain from meat and wine during the Nine Days from Rosh Chodesh Av till Tisha B'Av. It is even forbidden to partake of food cooked with meat or with fat; even the flesh of poultry is forbidden. A person to whom dairy meals are harmful is permitted to eat poultry. For a person who is ill, all these prohibitions do not apply. Nevertheless, if it is not too difficult for him or her, they should abstain from eating any kind of meat from the 7th day of Av and on.


Also, some women in confinement abstain from meat and wine from the 7th of Av on, for on that day the heathens entered the Temple.


At a religious feast, such as a circumcision, the redemption of the firstborn son (Pidyon Haben), or the conclusion of a Talmudic treatise, it is permissible to serve meat and wine. Not only one's parents, brothers and children, and those directly connected with the performance of the precept may partake of the meal, but also ten other guests, provided that these guests would have come to the feast had it occurred at any other time. Such a feast is permissible even on the day before the 9th of Av before noon, but not later than that. The feast, which is generally made on the night before the circumcision, is not mandatory, and, therefore, no meat or wine should be served on this occasion, but the meal should consist of dairy foods.


Concerning the goblet of wine for the havdallah at the conclusion of the Sabbath, if there is a minor who is able to drink the greater part of the goblet, it should be given to him; otherwise, the one who recites the havdallah may drink it himself.


No clothes may be washed during the Nine Days, not even a shirt or a garment which one does not intend to wear until after Tisha B'Av. It is forbidden to give it to a non-Jew to be washed. A Jewess may wash the clothes of a non-Jew; nevertheless, she should refrain from this work during the week in which Tisha B'Av occurs.


During these Nine Days, it is also forbidden to put on or to spread even garments that have been washed previously. In honor of the Sabbath one may put on linen garments and cover the table with white cloths and to change towels, in the same manner as on other Sabbaths. But it is forbidden to spread white sheets.


A woman who is required to put on clean lingerie when she begins to count the seven clean days is permitted to wash the lingerie and to put them on.


It is also permissible to wash infant's diapers during these Nine Days, as they are constantly soiled.


During the Nine Days, one should not have new garments or new shoes made, or to have stockings knitted, even by a non-Jewish work-person. However, if it is very urgent, like a wedding that will take place immediately after Tisha B'Av, it is permissible in any event to give the clothes even to a Jewish tailor, who may work on them even thereafter.


Women who are accustomed not to arrange the threads for weaving, during these Nine Days, because this act is called in Hebrew "sheti," remindful of the "Even Shetiyah" (foundation stone) which had been in the Temple, such women should not be given permission to do it.


During the Nine Days, one should not bathe even in cold water, except for medical purposes, as for instance, when a woman has given birth, or is nearing childbirth, or a person who is feeble and was ordered by a physician to bathe; in these cases it is permissible to bathe even in warm water. A woman who has been menstrually unclean may bathe and immerse herself ritually as usual. If she is to perform the immersion on the night after Tisha B'Av, and it will be impossible for her to wash and cleanse on the 9th, she is permitted to wash on the day before Tisha B'Av. When putting on clean lingerie to begin counting the seven clean days, she may bathe in her accustomed manner, inasmuch as she does not do it for the sake of pleasure.


A mourner whose 30th day of mourning occurs on the 18th of Tammuz or thereafter is permitted to have his hair cut until the day before Rosh Chodesh Av. But from Rosh Chodesh on, he is not allowed either to bathe or to have the hair cut.


During the Nine Days objects of joy (simcha), silver for one's wedding, for instance, that are available after the Nine Days at the same price should not be purchased at that time.


Similarly, during the Nine Days, plants for pleasure (trees for shade or beauty, for example, or flowers for fragrance) should not be planted.


On the Sabbath during the Nine Days of Av, it's the custom to call up for the reading of the Maftir the Hakham who understands the spirit of the lament, and he should not, therefore, be called up for the reading of "shelishi" (the third portion of the sedra).


This is a summary of halachot of The Three Weeks, beginning with the Fast of Tammuz 17 and ending with the Fast of 9th of Av (Tisha B'Av). The period from Rosh Chodesh until after Tisha B'Av is known as The Nine Days. These halachot come from the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law.


XIII. Readings


Torah:                         Shemot (Exodus) 32:11-15;

Shemot (Exodus) 34:1-11


Nazarean Codicil:       1 Corinthians 3:16-18;

2 Corinthians 6:14-18;

2 Thessalonians 2:7-13


                        Reader 1 - Shemot 32:11-15

                        Reader 2 - Shemot 34:1-3

                        Reader 3 - Shemot 34:4-11


XIV. From My Teacher


The following essay was written By my teacher, Hakham Dr. Yoseph ben Haggai:


The 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz begins a three week national period of semi-mourning which culminates with the Ninth of Av (Tisha B’Av). It is a period where many tragedies have historically occurred and is considered in Jewish cosmology such an inauspicious time period that one is not allowed to get married. From the first of Av one is even advised to push off court cases until at least the 10th of Av. Traditionally, we refrain from hair-cutting, purchasing or wearing new clothing, listening to music and pleasure trips. It is a time for self-reflection and improvement. On the 17th of Tammuz five calamitous events occurred throughout history:

1) Moshe broke the first Tablets of the Ten Commandments when he descended from Mt. Sinai and saw the worshipping of the Golden Calf;

2) The daily sacrificial offerings ceased in the first Temple due to lack of sheep;

3) The walls of Jerusalem were breached during the siege of the second Temple;

4) Apostamus-the-Wicked burned a Sefer Torah and;

5) An idol was placed in the Sanctuary of the Second Temple.


The 17th of Tammuz is a fast day. The fast begins approximately an hour before sunrise and continuing until about an hour after sunset. The purpose of the fast is to awaken our hearts to repentance through recalling our forefathers’ misdeeds which led to tragedies and our repetition of those mistakes. The fasting is a preparation for repentance, to break the body’s dominance over a person’s spiritual side. One should engage in self-examination and undertake to correct mistakes in his relationship with G-d, his fellow man and with himself. It is interesting to note that Saddam Hussein is a student of Jewish history. He named the nuclear reactor (from which he planned to create a bomb to drop on Israel) -- you guessed it, Tammuz 17!


This study however endeavors to look at the meaning of the Temple pre and post destruction for Nazarean Orthodox Jews and Nazarean Noachides. In particular we want to ascertain ourselves as to:


* What significance does the Temple hold specifically for us as Nazareans?


* And also, what meaning does this fast of the 17th of Tammuz and the weeks up the 9th of Av pose for us?


The Background


For example, we know that when the Romans occupied Eretz Yisrael, they set up a puppet king over Yisrael, and not content with that the true priest had to flee for their lives and take refuge in the locality known to us today as Qumran. Eventually these exiled Priests and Levites gave rise to a Jewish sect which today we know as the Essenes. From what we know of and the place indicated by the Nazarean Codicil where Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) lived and taught, it is highly possible and almost certain that Yochanan the Immerser either had very strong connections or belonged to this sect himself as many Scholars posit today.


Thus a very poignant question asked by any genuine Torah Observant Jew of the first century c.e. would have been if it was Kosher to attend the Temple services, or as the Essenes taught the place had been so desecrated and polluted by the false priesthood that one should abstain from going into the Temple. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the time resolved that even though the priesthood was corrupt, yet the Holiness of the Temple could not be desecrated since HaShem’s Name dwells there. On the other hand, the strict Torah observant sect of the Essenes considered the Temple precincts and its functionaries desecrated and corrupt, and contact with either the Temple or its offices was shunned and avoided.


The problem then, was much similar as is today with regards to the question of the Modern State of Israel, where most sects of Judaism would consider the land Holy, and accept that, though imperfect as it may be, the Modern State of Israel is a step towards realizing the coming of the Mashiach and the full restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. However some of the most strict and Orthodox sects of Judaism today, believe that the Modern State of Israel is a delusion it is unholy and a desecration of the land and only a Theocratic government can be seen as the answer to heed a return to the land, and that this can only happen when the Messiah returns.


So, the question was very real, and Messiah Himself as were his illustrious Pharisaic relatives presented with this dilemma. As we know, Messiah came from a “Judean” royal family and lived during his early years and youth in the vicinity (close proximity) of the great school of Rabbi Hillel, and the text of the Nazarean Codicil points in the direction that Mashiach attended the School of Hillel who was also a descendant of King David[12] who was also Nasi[13] of the Sanhedrin, and which was at that time under the direction of R. Hillel’s disciple and son Rabbi Shim’on ben Hillel Hazaken who was also Nasi of the Sanhedrin, and later under the direction of his disciple and son Rabban Gamliel Hazaken. Rabban Gamliel Hazaken[14] was also Nasi of the Sanhedrin in the century preceding the destruction of the Second Temple, and died approximately two decades before its destruction. Rabban Gamliel Hazaken was the instructor of Hakham Shaul as the records in the Nazarean Codicil[15] show.


From the historical records we know that since Mashiach was a descendant of King David as was also R. Hillel, and his son Rabbi Shim’on ben Hillel Hazaken, and his grandson Rabban Gamliel Hazaken, they must have been well acquainted with each other since both belonged to the same tightly knit Royal family. The record of the Nazarean Codicil at the Gemara level states:


Luqas (Luke) 1:40; 2:52 And the child grew and became strong in spirit (Pneumati) being filled with wisdom (Sofias), and the grace (Charis) of G-d was upon him. … And Yeshua advanced in wisdom (Sofia), and stature (Ilikia), and in favor (Chariti) with G-d and men.


Now the Greek word “SOFIA” is in Hebrew: “CHOCHMAH” (Wisdom). The Greek word “ILIKIA” (Strong’s # 2244) means maturity not only of and size but also intellectual maturity – ie. Hebrew: “DA’AT” (knowledge). And the Greek word “CHARIS” (Strong’s #5485) from which the Greek term “CHARITI” is derived, and much akin to the Hebrew: “BINAH” (understanding). Thus we could translate Luqas 2:52 as follows:


“And Yeshua advanced (grew) in “CHOCHMAH” (wisdom), and “DA’AT” (knowledge), and in “BINAH” (understanding) with G-d and men”


Now, in Judaism there is a specific system of instruction and schooling of youngsters and adults which is called “CHABAD” which specifically targets these three key areas of development in the individual (Chochmah (wisdom), Binah (understanding), and Daat (intellectual knowledge). It is the same educational system employed to this very day by the Chassidim and Sephardim in their primary, secondary education as well as in their undergraduate and prost-graduate Academies. Today, Chassidim call their out-reach (often proselytistic) posts “CHABAD Houses,” which is somewhat of a misnomer. The school of Rabbi Hillel became prominent in the use of this educational system, and thus this text in the Gemara of I Luqas (Luke) hints to the fact that Yeshua attended the primary, secondary and Rabbinical Academy of Rabbi Hillel, which most probably at that time was headed by his son Rabbi Shim’on ben Hillel Hazaken as we posited above, and which together with the School of R. Shamai were the Oxford’s and Cambridge’s of that time and where Israel’s elite, and nobility received instruction.


By the way, Rabbi Robert Eisenman, Prof. at UCLA has published a book called: “James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” published by Penguin, USA (paperback), as well as in his book: “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians: Essays and Translations” makes a very educated claim that Hakham Ya’aqov Ha-Tsadiq (James) the brother of Mashiach was also a great authority in the Sanhedrin and a product of the School of Hillel as was his elder brother. This further confirms my claims, and adds strength to my arguments albeit from a different perspective. All of this, gives us a strong indication that the Jewish Nazareans were a sub-sect of Pharisaic Judaism and were much an integral part and product of that milieu.


We know from the behavior of Mashiach’s parents, Yosef and Miriam, that they presented the child Yeshua at the Temple for the ceremony of Pidyon Ha-Ben (Redemption of the firstborn). And again the Gemara of Hakham Dr. Luqas records:


“And when were fulfilled the days for her (Miriam’s) purification according to the law of Moshe, they brought him to Yerushalayim to present to HaShem, as it has been written in the Torah of HaShem, that “every male opening a womb shall be called Holy to HaShem”; and to offer a sacrifice according to that which has been said in the Torah of  HaShem, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”


1 Luqas 2:22-25 And behold there was a man in Yerushalayim whose name was Shim’on and this man was just and pious, waiting for the consolation of Yisrael, and the spirit of G-d’s Holiness was upon him.


It is obvious from this text that the “man in Yerushalayim whose name was Shim’on, a just and pious man” was none other than the Nasi of the Jewish Sanhedrin in Yerushalayim, Rabbi Shim’on ben Hillel Hazaken, a Most Distinguished relative of Yosef and Mashiach himself, and all members of the Royal family of Yisrael! It is obvious then, that whilst the Nazareans alike the Pharisees held in great respect the claims of the Essenes to be the genuine inheritors of the Priesthood, they nevertheless accepted the sanctity of the Temple, since  HaShem’s Name dwells in it.


Now we know that Herod the Great, the founder of the Herodian dynasty, though technically Jewish by birth, his family was Idumean (Edomites), who had been forcibly converted to Judaism under the Hasmonean Maccabees circa the second century B.C.E., and as the historical records describe him neither his religious behavior nor his ethics reflected anything of Judaism. He was consistently paranoid about his power, and had all his rivals exterminated, including those of his wife’s family and even some of his very own children. Numbers Rabbah 4:14, describe Herod and the building of the magnificent Temple as: “It was built by a sinful king, and the building was intended by him as an atonement for him having slain Israel’s Sages.”


In Talmud Bavli Baba Bathra 3b we read the following concerning the credentials of King Herod:


“Herod was a slave in the Hasmonean house, and had set his eyes on a certain maiden of that house (Mariamne, the daughter of Alexander, a son of Aristobolus II. According to Josephus, she was put to death by Herod after being married to him for several years). One day he heard a voice from heaven say, “Every slave that rebels now will succeed.” So he rose and killed all the members of his master’s household, but spared the maiden. When she saw that he wanted to marry her, she went up unto a roof and cried out, “Whosoever comes and says, I am from the Hasmonean house, is a slave, since I alone am left of it, and I am throwing myself down from this roof. … He (Herod) arose and killed all the Rabbis, sparing however Baba ben Buta, that he might take counsel of him. … How came Baba b. Buta to do this, give advice to Herod, seeing that Rabbi Judah has said in the name of Rab (or maybe R. Joshua ben Levi) that Daniel was punished only because he gave advice to Nebuchadnezzar, as it is written: “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto you, and atone your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, if there may be a lengthening of your tranquility, etc.” (Daniel 4:24), and again, “All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar,” (Daniel 4:25), and again, “At the end of the twelve months, etc.”? – If you like I can say that this does not apply to a slave of an Israelite such as Herod was, who is under the obligation to keep the commandments of the Torah …”


And what shall we say of the apostate priests in the Temple headed by Caiaphas, whose real Hebrew name was Kathros and Ananias whose real Hebrew name was Chanin? The Babylonian Talmud[16] says this concerning these apostate Priests:


“It was taught, Abba Shaul said: There were sycamore tree-trunks in Jericho, and the men of violence seized them by force, whereupon the owners arose and consecrated them to Heaven. And it was of these and of such as these that Abba Shaul ben Bothnith said in the name of Abba Joseph ben Chanin: “Woe is me because of the house of Boethus; woe is me because of their staves (with which they beat the people)! Woe is me because of the house of Chanin, woe is me because of their whisperings (their secret conclaves to devise oppressive measures)! Woe is me because of the house of Kathros, woe is me because of their pens (with which they wrote their evil decrees)! Woe is me because of the house of Ishmael the son of Phabi, woe is me because of their fists! For they are High Priests and their sons are Temple treasurers and their sons-in-law are trustees and their servants beat the people with staves!”


One must note that it was these Idumean kings in Israel, who were puppets of the Roman authorities who had the power to pose and depose High Priests from among this pool of Idumean forced converts to Judaism.


And so the wise House of Hillel and its wise Hakhamim, noting the difficulty of the times, and the futility of opposing the Romans, and believing that it is better for the people to have a bad government that no government at all decided that it was better for the people to revere G-d and His House, and tolerate the corrupt Arab priests and Kings, than plunge the nation into a blood bath and with little hope of winning. From the record of the Nazarean Codicil we know that the Nazareans adopted the same policy. For we read:


2 Luqas (Acts) 2:46-47 And every day steadfastly continuing with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread in their houses they partook of food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising G-d and having favor with the whole people; and  HaShem added daily those who were being delivered to the assembly.


This is after the death of Mashiach, and they were going daily to the services of the Temple in which sacrifices were made three times a day! And even though, the priesthood was corrupt, yet they considered the Holiness of G-d’s House greater than the sin of the priests and High Priests. We further note, later in history that Hakham Shaul had no problem himself in offering sacrifices in the Temple on behalf of some Jews who had a Nazirite vow:


2 Luqas (Acts) 21:18-26 And on the following day Shaul went in with us to Ya’aqov, and all the Hakhamim assembled. And having saluted them, he related one by one what thing wrought G-d among the Gentiles by his ministry. And they (the Hakhamim) having heard glorified  HaShem. And they said to him, “You see brother, how many myriads there are of Jews who have believed, and all are zealous ones of the Torah. And they have been informed concerning you that you teach apostasy from Moshe to all the Jews amongst the Gentiles telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk in our customs. What then is it? Certainly a multitude will come together, for they will hear that you have come. This therefore, do what we say to you. There are with us four men having a (Nazirite) vow on themselves, these take and be purified with them, and bear the expense for them, that they may shave the head; and all may know that which they have been informed about you is false, but that you yourself also walk orderly, observing the Torah. But concerning those who have believed among the Gentiles we wrote, judging them not to observe such things, except to keep themselves from things offered to idols, and blood, and what is strangled, and fornication.” Then Shaul, having taken the men, on the next day having been purified with them, entered into the Temple, declaring the fulfillment of the days of purification, until was offered for each one of them the offering (sacrifice).”


So, for Nazareans, the Temple and its services were intrinsically bound to their religion, hope and aspirations. They understood that the concept of a Mashiach (King of Israel) cannot exist without the Temple and its services. In fact they had heard their Master teach whilst he was alive:


Yochanan (John) 2:19 Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up.


Now, please note the following:


            a) Whilst the text goes on to say in vv. 21 and 22 that this referred to his body, these two verses could well be an interpolation by a “Christian monk” trying to improve the writing of Yochanan, and whilst this forum is not the place to go into this subject, I sincerely believe that these two verses (John 2:21 and 22) were not in the original writing of Yochanan, although he was surely speaking of his “body” but not his body.


            b) That in my opinion the Jews were correct in taking Mashiach literally when they said in v. 20 “Forty-six years was this Temple in building, and will you rear it up in three days?” But of course we know from elsewhere that it is said “after two days (ie. 1948 – 2,000 years) will He revive us; in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight”.[17] And this is the “body” and Temple he was speaking about.


            c) That he said “Destroy Herod’s Temple” which as we all know happened in 70 c.e. and WHO may I ask Mashiach said will rebuild it again? You guessed right, His Majesty King Yeshua Ha-Mashiach himself! Please note this, because before the real Mashiach comes and builds His Temple according to Ezekiel’s exact specifications, an Anti-Messiah will come first and build what we shall call the 3rd Temple according to Solomon’s and King Herod’s specifications, and which will end in disaster and much and terrible grief.


            d) Please note that as I pointed above the two days came to an end in 1948, and at present we are walking towards the realization of the third day which has yet conclude. The text in Hosea makes it clear that “after two days he will revive us” but it is not until the end of the third day that “He will raise us up.” Please note that I am not giving, insinuating or pointing to any future dates and I pray you follow my example. I have simply stated when the two days finished, and we know that the third day will be shortened, so please do not speculate since the Oral Torah forbids us to engage in any speculation of things we do not know and as Mashiach well said “only the Father knows,” that is, not even Mashiach nor the angels know when the end of the third day will be.


Two Specific Nazarean Understandings

of the Temple


I want here to bring to the fore two Nazarean understandings of the Temple which although penned by two different Nazarean Hakhamim and covering two differing topics yet the one goes hand in glove with the other. Each of these perspectives demand of us to take not a mere human perspective of things and history, but rather to enlarge our minds and think from a global, heavenly perspective (as if we were under situated next to the throne of glory and looking down to earth). This view also demands of us to be extremely careful with our texts and if necessary to put a couple of match sticks between our eyelids to keep our eyes open wide and observe all nuances of the texts.


Two such nuances that we must keep in mind at all times are find in Sefer Shemot (the Book of Exodus). The first one concerns G-d’s command to build Him a Tabernacle. Let us look at the command in detail:


Shemot 25:8 VeAsu (And let them make) Li (for Me) Mikdash (a sanctuary) VeShakhan’ti (that I may dwell) BeTokham (in their mist).


To avoid the possibility that you may think I am fabricating things I am going to quote here exactly from the Yalkut MeAm Lo’Ez[18] which was started by Hakham Ya’aqov Culi, and after his death, and particularly this portion was by the pen of Hakham Yitchaq Magriso in 1732, and translated to English by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, and published by Moznaim Publishing Co. (1990). I am quoting here verbatim selections from Vol. 9, pp. 26-32 of this work.


“The Tabernacle here is called a sanctuary, MIKDASH in Hebrew, even though it was not the Holy Temple (which is usually referred to as the “Mikdash” or “Bet HaMikdash”). The word “Mikdash” literally means a “Holy Place.” Since the Tabernacle was a Holy place, designated specially for the Divine Presence, it was called a “Mikdash.”


G-d literally said that if the Israelites make the Tabernacle, “I will dwell inside them.” Since He was speaking of the Tabernacle, He should have said, “I will dwell inside it.”


But this teaches that the main element of the Tabernacle was not the boards and other materials out of which it was built. The main element was the purity of heart on the part of the Israelites who built the Tabernacle. They had to be good, G-d fearing Jews, and spiritual people. Then they would be able to cause the Divine Presence to dwell inside them – literally – since they would be closely attached to G-d.


Therefore, the main place where the Divine Presence would rest would be inside the Israelites, and not in the wood and metal of the Tabernacle, which were secondary to the heart.


The only reason a physical building had to be built was to motivate the people spiritually. When a person enters the Tabernacle, the Holy Temple or a Synagogue, that act is in itself not sufficient. The building is made of mere wood and stone. The main thing is the people who are in the building, who must be immersed in the holiness of the Divine Presence, sanctifying their hearts and standing in awe before G-d, so that they will not do anything against His will.


Such a structure is then called a sanctuary, a Tabernacle, a holy congregation or a Holy Temple. It does not depend on the lumber out of which it is made, but on the hearts of the people who congregate in the place.


The only purpose of the physical structure is to awaken people from their spiritual sleep, and so direct their consciousness towards G-d. The person says to himself, “Since I am in this Holy Place, where the Divine Presence dwells, I must behave with awe and reverence. I must not engage in idle chatter[19].”


In general, then, the people themselves are the true Tabernacle. Therefore, after G-d said, “Make Me a sanctuary,” He said, “Thus must you do.” This teaches that the people must work on themselves to make the Tabernacle, and they will accomplish this by purifying their hearts[20].


When G-d gave this commandment, He said, “Let them make Me a sanctuary.” One reason that G-d changed the wording here, and called it a “sanctuary” (MIQDASH) instead of a “Tabernacle” (MISHKHAN) was to teach that the commandment was not only for that time. Rather, there is a commandment for all times to build a sanctuary to G-d[21].


This commandment implies that wherever there are ten adult male Jews, they have an obligation to build a structure dedicated for prayer. This structure is known as a synagogue, BET HA-KENESSET in Hebrew. Literally, BET HA-KENESSET means a “house of assembly,” since it is a place where all the men assemble every morning and evening to worship.


A community has the right to force all its members to participate in building a synagogue. The community similarly has an obligation to purchase Torah Scrolls and other books needed for the Synagogue[22].


G-d therefore said that the Israelites must build a sanctuary (MIQDASH). The Synagogue is also called a sanctuary (MIQDASH). The verse therefore teaches that in every generation there is an obligation to build synagogues where needed[23].


Building a synagogue is counted as an act as great as building the Holy Temple. The prayers offered each day in the Synagogue are like the service (AVODAH) of bringing sacrifice, which was done in the Temple. We thus find that worship is called service (AVODAH). It is written, “You shall serve G-d your L-rd” (23:25). As we have explained, this refers to prayer and worship. Since the synagogue parallels the Temple on High, it should be built as nicely as possible[24].


If a person participates in building a synagogue, and his intent is for the sake of heaven, he will be worthy of witnessing the building of Yerushalayim. Therefore, one must put all his efforts into this. He must realize that his efforts will cause the Divine Presence to rest in Yisrael. One cannot even begin to estimate the benefits of this. Besides all this, the person who builds a synagogue is also bringing merit to multitudes. Every day people use the Synagogue to worship, and there is no limit to the benefit received from this[25].


The Talmud teaches that a person’s worship is only heard at the time that the congregation is worshiping in the synagogue[26]. Therefore, if one wakes up late and cannot get to synagogue on time, he still should not worship at home. Even if he must do so alone he must do it in the Synagogue[27]. This is true even if a person has a clean room in his house where he can worship. Many people live in close quarters where it is absolutely forbidden to worship in the house. This is specially true where there are young babies and dirty diapers in the house.


Unless there are extenuating circumstances, a person must recite all three services, morning, afternoon, and evening, in the synagogue with the congregation. When there are ten Jewish men in the Synagogue, the Divine Presence precedes them, as it is written, “G-d stands in the G-dly congregation”[28].


It is also written, “My prayer shall be to You at an acceptable time[29]. The Talmud says that “an acceptable time” is the time when the congregation is worshiping.


G-d also said, “If any person studies Torah (or supports Torah study), does deeds of kindness, and worships with the congregation, I will count it as if he had liberated Me and my children from among the nations.” King David thus said, “He has redeemed my soul with peace, because many have been with me”[30]. He was saying, “The reason that G-d redeemed my soul from the enemies who attack me, was because many were with me–because I always worshiped with the congregation.”


If one is unable to go to synagogue, and worships at home, he should at least worship at the same time as the congregation. He should not delay until after the congregation has finished. As we have seen, the time that the congregation worships is a time of acceptance.


If a person worships in a synagogue, it is as if he had brought a meal offering (MINCHAH). That is, it is counted as if he brought a gift to G-d[31].


It is written, “I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers”[32]. Torah scholars are called a “wall” since the merit of the Torah that they study protects the Israelites and annuls evil decrees, just as a wall protects a city and prevents the enemy from entering.


Synagogues and houses of study, however, are called towers. The merit of Torah and prayer protect the generation, just as towers protect a city. Since the towers are very high, they provide more protection than that afforded by a wall. The people in the tower can shoot arrows and catapult stones at the enemy and cause him to flee.


Rabbi Chanina taught that we can understand the value of the synagogue from the fact that, although G-d has millions of angels who sing praise to Him each day, He desires only the prayers of Israel. It is thus written, “In a multitude of people is the King’s glory”[33]. A great congregation is an honor to a king. G-d speaks of Israel as “The people that I formed that they might tell My praise”[34]. G-d said, “The reason that I created My people was so that they should declare My praise in the world.”


Thus, when Israel gathers in synagogues and study house to worship and to hear the Rabbi teach, G-d says to the angels, “Come and see My people. that I created.”


When a person is in synagogue, he must stand in awe and reverence, realizing that the Divine Presence is there with him. It is thus written, “I have set G-d before me at all times”.[35]


One must be very careful not to engage in idle chatter in the synagogue. This has already been discussed in detail.


If one is in the habit of attending synagogue, and does not come one day, G-d asks about him. If he did not come because he was involved in doing a good deed, it is acceptable. But if he did not come because of his business affairs, he will not have any success, since he did not place his trust in G-d.


Rabbi Yochanan taught that if there is not a quorum (minyan) of ten men in the synagogue, G-d becomes angry, and says, “Why have I come and there is no one to greet me; I called and no one answered”[36]. G-d was asking, “Why was there no one to respond Amen and to say Kedusha?”


If one has a synagogue in his neighborhood and does not attend he is called a bad neighbor. What’s more, he causes exile for himself and his children[37].


When Balak summoned Balaam to curse Yisrael.[38] The first curse that Balaam wished to pronounce against them was that they should not have synagogues and study halls. G-d, however, transformed all the curses into blessings[39]. However when the Israelites sinned, all the curses were restored, except for the one involving synagogues and study halls. Balaam had said, “How god are your tents, Jacob, your tabernacles, Israel[40]. This blessing remained forever so that there is never a lack of synagogues and study halls where Jews live[41].


In the Messianic Age, all the synagogues and places of Torah study in other lands will be uprooted and moved to the Holy Land[42]. We see that two great mountains, Mount Tabor and Mount Carmel, uprooted themselves at the time the Torah was given and crossed the sea. Such a miracle will certainly be done to synagogues and study halls, since they are places where prayers are said and Torah is studies. They therefore deserve to be set in the Holy Land, just like Mt. Tabor and Mt. Carmel.”


Now, let me say this, the Yalkut Me’Am Lo’Ez, is greatly treasured among all Sephardim, and greatly revered and studied particularly by the Sephardim of the Spanish / Portuguese Minhag (custom). I still remember memorizing sections of this commentary in Ladino during my youth. Now, I would like you to compare this commentary with the writings of Hakham Tsefet (Peter) concerning the Nazarean view of the Temple and observe what commonalities exist between Hakham Tsefet’s authoritative view and the above commentary from the Yalkut Me’Am Lo’Ez (Pueblo Ladinador). Hakham Shimon bar Tsefet (Peter) writes to Jewish Nazarean converts living throughout the Diaspora:


“Having laid aside, therefore, all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envyings, and Lashon Hara (evil speaking), as new born babes long ye after the genuine milk of the Torah, that by it you may grow, if indeed you did taste that  HaShem is good[43].To whom coming a living stone by men indeed rejected, but with G-d chosen, and approved as genuine, also yourselves, as living stones, let yourselves be built up into a spiritual house (Temple), for a holy priesthood to bring up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to G-d through Yeshua the Mashiach. Wherefore also, it is contained in the Scriptures[44]: “Behold I am placing in Tsiyon a corner stone, chosen, precious, and he that believes in (or “adheres to”) him shall not be put to shame.” To you therefore who believe (adhere) is the preciousness, but to those disobeying, the stone which those building rejected, the same has become head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, who stumble at the Torah, being disobedient, to which (purpose) they were also appointed. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar treasure[45], that you might show forth the virtues of Him Who called you out of darkness to His wonderful light (of the Torah & Mashiach). Who once were not a people, but now are G-d’s people, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”[46] 


A cursory reading of the dimensions of the Messianic Temple in Ezekiel in fact shows its massive measurements, and almost no measure is given of stone blocks nor in fact rooms. In fact the Edenic Temple if there is such a thing is well explained in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 21:22). All of this points to the fact that in the Messianic Age, the people of G-d living and gathered together as a unit are the Temple of  HaShem. Thus the early Nazareans realized the import of and ideals pointed out in Shemot 25:8 concerning the Messianic Age. The Nazarean Hakhamim realized that at present we are living in a transition status with one foot firmly anchored in this present age and another foot equally anchored in the Messianic Age. And whilst we are in this age, we need to subject to the laws concerning G-d’s sanctuaries, yet by the same token we must also not be blinded by the fact that stones and lumber are transitory, and that greater care and expense should be placed on the formation of the “living stones” composing the Edenic Temple of the Messianic Age. That is, the preparation and equipping of the living stones should take priority over ordinary stones and lumber. In fact the meticulous preparations, and the sparing of no expense concerning the stones, architecture and the making of the furniture and utensils in the Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple point to the great care, professionalism, and the sparing of no expense in the preparation and equipping of the “living stones.”


The second passage that I would like to introduce now comes from the pen of Hakham Shaul in his letter to the Thessalonians converts to Orthodox Nazarean Judaism. Please note how the Temple lies behind the words of Hakham Shaul.


2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Now, we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Master Yeshua the Messiah and our gathering together to him, for you not to be quickly shaken in mind, nor be troubled, neither by spirit nor by word, nor by epistle, as if by us as that the day of the Messiah is present. Not anyone should deceive you in any way, because it will not be unless the apostasy shall have come first, and the man of sin shall have been revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all called G-d or object of veneration, so as for him in the Temple of G-d, as G-d to sit down, setting forth himself that he is G-d. Do you not remember that, yet being with you, these things I said to you? And now that which restrains you know, for him to be revealed in his own time. For the mystery already of lawlessness is working; only there is he who restrains at present until out of the midst he be gone, and then will be revealed the lawless one whom the Master will consume with the breath of his mouth, and annul by the appearing of his coming; whose coming is according to the working of Satan in every power and signs and wonders of falsehood, and in every deceit of injustice in them that perish, because the love of the truth they received not for them to be delivered. And on account of this, G-d will send to them a working of error, for them to believe what is false, that they may be judged all who believe not the truth, but delights in injustice”.


Whilst many interpretations have been made on this particular passage to apply to the circumstances of those making these interpretations, and indeed as the Sages claim each text has a myriad of interpretations, yet we know that Hakham Shaul is pointing specifically to a third Temple to be rebuilt in which a pseudo Mashiach will rise up (man of sin) and desecrate the third Temple. Hakham Shaul is stating that the real Mashiach will not come until this person appears first with his third Temple. So what do we learn from this? It seems to me that some people never learn their lessons well and rather than providing a first class Torah education for the living stones, they will once again spend their moneys and efforts in stones for the purpose of a pseudo Mashiach to rise again. However let us not forget that the “living stones” have a share in eternity and in the age to come but the earthly stones and lumber are transitory. Of truth if stones and lumber facilitate a good Torah education, by all means let us invest in it, but let us understand that in the end the Edenic Temple is composed solely of  HaShem, His Mashiach and His “Living Stones”!




For me as a Jewish Hakham[47] I surely do love in great measure the Holy City, and the place of G-d’s choosing. And yes, on this 17th of Tammuz as a human being and as a Jew mourn for such a great loss. But then my thoughts are caught up with G-d’s Torah and the so many “living stones” that are being lost assimilated or rejected, I mourn and weep because we still do not have a strong viable Nazarean community, and in the end it is the Temple of “living stones” which lies in ruins awaiting reconstruction that I mourn the most. It seems to me that a 17th of Tammuz is not complete from a Nazarean perspective unless there is this element of mourning for the Nazarean Temple composed of “living stones” to be fully restored and rebuilt. In conclusion let me quote the last words, of the last verse, of the last book of the TANAKH, according to the Jewish order of the books.


“Whosoever there is among you of His entire people – May  HaShem his G-d be with him, and let him go up!”



May it be well with you during the fast!


Shalom U’Brechot!


Hakham Dr. Yosef ben Haggai



* * *


This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:


Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

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[1] The Old Testament

[2] Shulchan Aruch Orech Chayim 549

[3] Ta’anith 4:5

[4] Hakhamim is the title given to Sefardi Rabbis.

[5] Book XX chapter 5 of Antiquities

[6] II Kings 21:7. Mishna, Ta’anith 4:6

[7] Bava Batra 7b

[8] Morning prayers.

[9] Afternoon prayers.

[10] The Sabbath before Tisha B’Av.

[11] Isaiah 66

[12] Jerusalem Talmud Taanith. 4:2; Ket. 62; Bereshit Rabba R 33:3; Tosefta to Sanhedrin. 5

[13] Chief Judge

[14] the grandson of R. Hillel

[15] The New Testament

[16] Pesachim 57a

[17] Hosea 6:2

[18] Commentary of the Pueblo Ladinador.

[19] cf. Alshich; Siftei Kohen

[20] cf. Chen Tov

[21] cf. Kesef Mishneh on Yad, Bet HaBechira 1

[22] cf. Yad, Tefillah 11; Orach Chaim 150

[23] cf. Sifetey Cohen, p. 122

[24] cf. Zohar BeShalach 59b

[25] cf. Menorat HaMaor

[26] cf. Berakhot 6a

[27] cf. Orach Chaim 90

[28] Psalms 82:1

[29] Psalms 69:14

[30] Psalms 55:19

[31] cf. Talmud Yerushalmi, Berakhot 5:1, 33b

[32] Song of Songs 8:10

[33] Proverbs 14.28

[34] Isaiah 43:21

[35] Psalms 16:8

[36] Isaiah 50:2

[37] cf. Berakhot 6ab

[38] Numbers 22:5,6

[39] Deut. 23:6

[40] Numbers 24:5

[41] Sanhedrin 105a

[42] Megillah 29a

[43] Psalm 34:9 – 8 in the KJV

[44] Yeshayahu 28:16

[45] Shemot 19:5,6

[46] 1 Peter 2:1-10

[47] A Sefardic Rabbi