This year the 17th of Tammuz fell on Shabbat. This is a good thing, as Shabbat overrides the fast. We still fast the next day, but in a spiritual sense, it means the wholeness and rachamim (mercy) that comes with Shabbat, cancels out harsh decrees.
This was the day when Israel was supposed to receive the Torah. Israel, as Hashem's one and only bride (no other replacements, thank you), stood under the Chuppah, and as the Torah (our Ketubah) was brought down by Moshe Rabbeinu, he saw that Israel faltered. The people were expecting Moshe to arrive earlier. Due to impatience and anxiety, they opt for something immediate and tangible. There are so many factors that led up to this, but the Erev Rav (the mixed multitude) were primarily to blame. Moshe came back the second time on Yom Kippur - where the Torah was received and the marriage was sealed, never to be broken, never to be forsaken, never to be replaced.
This is also the day that the walls of Jerusalem were breached, a Torah scroll was burned and so many other horrific events happened.
Let's make sure that this is the last fast. Let's make sure there is no more idolatry in our hearts and homes. Let's irradicate the things that caused Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash to be destroyed. The First Temple was destroyed because of idol worship, forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed. Remember that Lashon Harah (evil speech and gossip!) and character assassination count as bloodshed too! The Second Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred.
We should not only rid our lives of ANY traces of the above-mentioned sins but we should go far beyond that, holding on to the One and Only G-d, the G-d of Avraham, Yitzhak and Israel. Let's yearn (with an ongoing ACTIVE consciousness) more than ever before for the building of the Beit Hamikdash. Let's help those around us with whatever resources we have - time, finances, skills, empathy. These acts are part of the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash! You are part of this process, your input is key.
Judge all those around you with a "Kaf Zchut" - benefit of the doubt. Where the walls are broken between us, MEND THE BREACHES! Our weaknesses and "blind-spots" cause these breaches. Curb your anger, frustration and irritation. Then go a step further, and reach out.
And your own shall build the old waste places, you will raise up the foundations of many generations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.
- Isaiah 58:12
This has an immediate impact on Jerusalem - may we not only see her walls rebuilt, the breaches filled up, but finally and ultimately see Hashem surrounding her with a wall of fire.
Wishing all a meaningful fast!