The Fast of Tammuz falls on July 23 this year, the 17th day of Tammuz, in the fourth month on the Hebrew calendar. It is a Jewish fast day to commemorate the breach of the walls of Jerusalem. It also marks the beginning of The Three Weeks, a period commemorating the destruction of the Holy Temple. The Fast of Tammuz traditionally commemorates five tragedies that occurred on this date, including the breaking of the two stone tablets and the burning of the Torah.
History of Fast of Tammuz
Fast of Tammuz or Seventeenth of Tammuz or in Hebrew Shivah Asar b’Tammuz is commemorated on the 17th day of Tammuz — the fourth month of the Hebrew calendar. It is a minor fast (ta’anit) that begins at dawn and ends at nightfall, abstaining from food and drink, including water. If the date falls on a Shabbat, it is postponed until the 18th day of the month. On this fast day, healthy adults must fast. Pregnant or nursing women do not have to fast, and those who are ill or weak should consult with a rabbi.
The Rabbis set this day as a fast day to mark the breach of the walls of Jerusalem. Four other tragedies also took place on the 17th day of Tammuz. They include: Moses, enraged by seeing a golden calf worshipped, broke the two tablets of the Ten Commandments revealed to him on Mount Sinai; due to the shortage of sheep during the siege of Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces, the daily offerings were stopped by the priests; Apostomus burned the Torah publicly, and an idol was placed in the Holy Temple.
Fast of Tammuz marks the beginning of The Three Weeks — a period of mourning commemorating the destruction of the First Temple, or Solomon’s Temple, and the Second Temple. The Three Weeks begin on the 17th day of Tammuz and end on the ninth day of Av — the fifth month on the Hebrew calendar — on Tisha B’Av which occurs exactly three weeks later. Some people abstain from listening to music, public entertainment, getting married, and cutting their hair or shaving during the period of The Three Weeks.
Fast of Tammuz timeline
The First Temple in Jerusalem is destroyed by the Babylonians.
The Jewish people lead a revolt and occupy Jerusalem causing the first Roman-Jewish war.
The walls of Jerusalem are breached by the Romans.
The Romans destroy the Second Temple.
Fast of Tammuz FAQs
Can one shower on Shiva Asar B’Tammuz?
There are no restrictions on taking a cold shower, but it is preferable not to go swimming.
Is Solomon’s Temple still standing?
No. The remains of Solomon’s Temple have never been found, and it is presumed that it was destroyed completely and buried during the establishment of the Second Temple.
What does teshuvah mean in Hebrew?
Teshuvah is translated from Hebrew as ‘repentance,’ but it means ‘return,’ as if returning to something you’ve strayed away from.
How to Observe Fast of Tammuz
Participate in the fast
To demonstrate the seriousness of the day, abstain from food and drink (unless you are ill, weak, pregnant, or nursing). You may wake up before dawn and have an early breakfast — only if you had in mind to do so before going to sleep.
Repent to God
It is said that abstaining from food and drink is the external element of a fast day. On a deeper level, it is a day when God is approachable, waiting for you to repent.
Read books or watch movies
It is a day of commemoration. Reading books or watching films about Jerusalem and Jewish history can deepen your understanding of the day.
5 Surprising Facts About Jerusalem
It is a Foundation of God
It is said that the name ‘Jerusalem’ most likely comes from ‘Urusalim,’ a word of Semitic origin meaning ‘Foundation of Shalem (wholeness)’ or ‘Foundation of God.’
The capital of the Jewish Kingdom
King David conquered Jerusalem and made it the capital of the Jewish kingdom in 1000 B.C.
Jesus was crucified there
Around 30 A.D., Jesus was crucified in the city of Jerusalem.
Muhammad ascended to heaven from there
The Islamic prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven from Jerusalem.
Natalie Portman was born there
Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem.
Why Fast of Tammuz is Important
It is a day of remembrance
The Fast of Tammuz is a day to commemorate. The day is an important reminder that tragedies do happen; however, we can always rise again.
It is a moment to refrain
In a busy world, sometimes we need to refrain. This particular day can be the right moment to do so. Refraining from food and drink for a while may be beneficial for your health.
It is a time for spirituality
Abstaining from physical needs and demands, especially on this day, can bring you an opportunity to focus on the spiritual. Whether you want to atone for your sins, or you are just being grateful and praising God, today is the time.
Fast of Tammuz dates