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The purpose of such fasts in the Jewish calendar is, according to Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov's Book of Our Heritage, "to awaken hearts towards repentance through recalling our forefathers' misdeeds; misdeeds which led to calamities..." A Historic Day of Calamity Going all the way back to Biblical times, Moses descended Mount Sinai on this day and, upon seeing the Golden Calf broke the first set of Tablets carrying the Ten Commandments (Shemot 32:19, Mishna Taanit 28b). In the First Temple Era: The priests in the First Temple stopped offering the daily sacrifice on this day (Taanit 28b) due to the shortage of sheep during the siege and the next year 3184 (5186 BCE), the walls of Jerusalem were breached after many months of siege by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces. During the period of Roman persecution an idol was placed in the holy sanctuary of the Temple (Melachim II 21:7,Taanit 28b), and the heathen Apostomos, captain of the occupation forces, publicly burned the Torah (Taanit 28b) - both acts considered open blasphemy and desecration. These were followed by Titus and Rome breaching the walls of Jerusalem in 3760 (70 CE) and Pope Gregory IX ordering the confiscation of all manuscripts of the Talmud in 4999 (1239). In later years this day continued to be a dark one for Jews. In 1391, more than 4,000 Jews were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain and in 4319 (1559) the Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned and looted. The Kovno ghetto was liquidated on this day in 5704 (1944) and in 5730 (1970) Libya ordered the confiscation of Jewish property. Continue reading.
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