The Adams Street Shul

Congregation Agudas Achim Anshei Sfard

Rabbi Norbert Weinberg at Adams Street Shul Yom Kippur at the Adams Street shul this year was truly amazing. The sanctuary was almost filled and remained that way throughout the services. The cantorial leadership was inspiring, and the participation through singing and sincere prayer left one spiritually fulfilled.

Tisha B'Av D'rashOf course, one of the major themes for the four Fasts is that of mourning.  Our souls cry out against the many unjust and horrific crimes against our people.  We are repelled by the fact that our tiny people has given so much to the world and has been treated so cruelly in response.

But there is more.  Our fasting is a fervent prayer that these injustices will soon become a thing of the past.  We yearn for the day that the cruelty of mankind will give way to justice and love and that their "swords will be turned into plough-shares."

Finally, and perhaps the most important aspect of fasting on all our fast days, is the

This Tuesday, July 19, is the Fast of Shiva Asar b-Tammuz (the Seventeenth Day of Tammuz), which will inaugurate The Three Weeks of mourning for both our Holy Temples, in connection with the fall of Jerusalem, the first destroyed by the Babylonians (586 B.C.E.) and the second by the Romans (70 C.E.).

There are six public fast days in the year.  One is Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  Another is Taanit Esther (the Fast of Esther), connected to the Purim festival.  The other four all commemorate an aspect of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples.

Following are the four fast days:

Napoleon and the Jews
Now that Shavuot and the Count of the Omer have passed, we are about to enter into the longest and warmest days of the year. Tammuz, and the succeeding two months, reflects the beautiful and serene days of summer. Families enjoy vacations and children go off to camp.

Yet, a sad note is heralded in our calendar on the seventeenth day of this month. It is the Fast of Shiva Asar B-Tammuz. On this day, the walls surrounding Jerusalem were breached and the fall of this Holy City only became a matter of time. Exactly three weeks later, on the sad day of Tisha B-Av, both Holy Temples were destroyed and many other tragedies befell us.

The story is told that Napoleon once passed a synagogue where he saw the congregants sitting on the ground and offering tearful prayers. “What is the meaning of this?” he asked his attendants.