Chief Rabbis urge Secular to Fast

In the Jerusalem Post:

The chief rabbis of Israel called this week on secular Jews to join their religious brethren in fasting on Tisha Be’av as a way of showing solidarity and unity at a time of war. “Those brothers and sisters who usually do not fast should make a special effort to do so this year to express the pain of those adversely affected by the war,” wrote Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

What makes this interesting is that this is precisely what Andrew Friedman, opinion editor of Ynetnews, blasted them for not doing on the 17th of Tammuz.

This time, of course, we were immediately treated to a Reform Rabbi telling the JPost that the destruction of the Temple isn’t worth mourning about anymore, and a Conservative Rabbi explaining that fasting only half a day might be better — because otherwise we’re not grateful to G-d for all the good He has given us. For anyone “on the fence,” it is always easier not to fast than to fast — so this is enough to blunt much of the impact of the Chief Rabbis’ call.

It’s one of those cases where you’re criticized either way — and there’s no question that everyone, Friedman included, would have ignored such a call three weeks ago. If someone listens this time, it will have been worthwhile.

May everyone have an easy fast.

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2 Responses

  1. Mordechai Y. Scher says:

    “May everyone have an easy fast.”

    Rav Dov Bigon used to tell us not to worry so much about the ‘ease’ of the fast…may we have a *beneficial* fast.

  2. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    The prophets and chazal (sages) both agreed that the value of a fast is in the repentence which comes as a result of it, and not the fasting or other self-affliction connected with it. Fasting is chosen as the means for bringing oneself to repentence because we need to redirect ourselves to listen to G-d in our yetzer hatov (good inclination) instead of the other side of us which seeks our own physical satisfaction, of which the stomach is the center and symbol. Both satiation from food and sexuality are centered around that part of the body. To be a person who grows spiritually we have to get out of the state of being satisfied, physically and spiritually, with the kind of people we are and get out of our comfort zones and grow. If we don’t move forward we move backward. There is no standing still. I would be very interested to hear if there were any takers from the not yet Torah observant Jews on the Chief Rabbis’ suggestion to fast. If anybody hears anything, pass it on.

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