Date of the fast in 5765: December 22nd, 2004

Coming as it does a week after the last day of Hanukah, the fast on 10th of the month of Tevet (Asarah b'Tevet) might easily be overlooked. It occupies, however, an important niche in the story of Israel and the history of our people.

The text in II Kings (25:1-4) tells us that on the 10th day of the 10th month, in the ninth year of his reign, (588 BCE), Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, began the siege of Jerusalem. Three years later, on the 17th of Tammuz, he broke through the city walls. The siege ended with the destruction of the Temple three weeks later, on the 9th of Av, the end of the first Kingdoms and the exile of the Jewish people to Babylon. It can thus be considered part of the cycle of fasts connected with these events: Tzom Gedaliah (3rd of Tishrei); Shivah Asar B'Tammuz (17th of Tammuz) and Tisha B'Av (9th of Av)

The first mention of this fast appears in Zechariah (8:19) where it is called the "fast of the tenth month..." (counting from the month of Nisan, which was the first month in Biblical times). Other references to the fast and the affliction can be found in Ezekiel 24:1-2 (the siege); Jeremiah 52:4-6.

However, although the fast is historically tied in with events surrounding the destruction of the First Temple, the purpose of the fast is not the commemoration of an historical event, but the state of affliction of the Jewish people.

  • As with all Jewish fasts, the prayers for Asarah B'Tevet include Selichot, marking day as an occasion for each of us to devote time to Teshuvah (repentance), the introspection that motivates us to reexamine our actions and change our ways. As the Talmud in Brachot says, one who is afflicted should examine his or her actions and do Teshuvah.
  • Because Asarah b'Tevet was also the day of mourning for people whose last resting place or date of death is unknown [the Kaddish Clali]; it was also designated by the Rabbinate of the State of Israel in late 1948 by Chief Rabbis Herzog and Ouziel and is likewise observed in some Diaspora communities as an official day of mourning for victims of the Shoah. Kaddish is recited with Yizkor in public services. The first public memorial in Israel for victims of the Shoah was therefore on this date (11th January 1949).
  • Asarah b'Tevet is one of four public fasts which begin at dawn (alot hashachar – about an hour before sunrise), but do not carry additional restrictions, such as washing oneself or wearing leather shoes, etc. [while Yom Kippur and Tisha b'Av begin from dusk the night before]. However, it is the only fast which is not brought forward or postponed if it falls on a Friday, a mark of its immense significance.



Aish Hatorah
Detailed article

Ohr Somayach
Why the fast can fall on a Friday

Main page on
with parsha link to Vayigash context
& Kaddish [with audio]

Extensive, but succinct index of files, with ideas for schools

Talmudic references for 10th Tevet

Brief article with texts

Interesting Kabbalistic approach

Yad Vashem
Resources, stories of names, lesson plans, educational activities in several languages, remembrance ceremonies



Chart for listing sources and reasons for all the fasts, plus a timeline for them and links
and Tanach sources with great visuals

CET (Matach)
Month of Tevet, winter, rainbow, snow...
Fast of 10th Tevet, Assarah B'Tevet, history, links, online knowledge test
Kaddish Clali 10th Tevet - short explanation, link to Kaddish
Operation Moses 10-11 Tevet, history, personal story, links
KKL, 19th Tevet, history, blue box, links
First Elections in Israel, 24th Tevet - right to vote, online knowledge test
and more on
Related Historical Timeline

Dinei Hachodesh/Sefer HaToda'ah
also Tosefta Sotah, questions, Bereishit Rabba on seasons, exercises, diagrams - easy Hebrew

Israel Ministry of Education
Background to the fasts
20 outline activity ideas for 10th Tevet - NB: We recommend adapting them! (Source: Israel Ministry of Education / Religious Education / Jerusalem District)

Yad Vashem
Resistance and Commemoration Ceremony

Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh
Dvar Torah for Shabbat Vayigash/10th Tevet

Yizkor Net
Vocalised Hebrew Yizkor for Shoah Victims





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23 Jun 2005 / 16 Sivan 5765 0