Newsletter of the Bet Januká of Andalucía Jewish Community

17th of Tammuz, a day of fasting
WHY FAST? … to liberate your spirit.
I’m trying to accept the changes of growing older with grace. An extra inch in the waistline is better looked at as an excuse for new clothes shopping. The difference is that “When Life Gives You a Lemon, Make Lemonade” attitude. What should I do today with the obligation of fasting? The 17th of Tammuz is a fast day that commemorates the day when the Babylonian army made the first breach in the wall of Jerusalem during the siege in 586 B.C.E. And this year it fell on Shabbat, so the custom of fasting was moved to today.
It takes a bit of deep reflection to convince one’s self to observe the fast (unless you are one of those folks who simply observe the mitzvoth / obligations because they are there). I prefer to find the meaning behind each mitzvot and convert it into a spiritual connection with the Divine Being.
Observing a day of fasting is not easy. Though on a Sunday in Spain it´s easier than a lot of places given that so many establishments are closed down tighter than a frog’s butt in water. For me, the purpose in fasting is not just the act of abstaining from food. It goes way beyond that. It gives me a chance to spend my day focusing my energy and thoughts on something bigger than my body’s physical needs. Think about the amount of time we spend each day first deciding what to eat, shopping to by ingredients, fixing meals, eating and then cleaning up the mess we’ve made in the process… it’s a serious investment!
I consider a fast day as a liberation day for my mind and spirit. The next step is deciding what do with all the free time you’ve just given to yourself as a gift. As a Jewish mitzvoth, the ideal thing would be to dedicate it to your spiritual growth. Jews around the world are doing that today and in a variety of ways. Some pick a text to study and try to find a way to apply it to their lives. Or gardening to get in touch with the earth. Some dedicate the day to creating art, always a good way to block out the external noise surrounding us and connect with our souls.
So use your free time wisely and dedicate it to a good cause: YOU!
Tzom kal – have an easy fast!

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