On Friday, December 17, marks the 10th of Tevet, a fast day in the Jewish calendar which commemorates the Babylonian siege on Jerusalem. Unlike other fast days, which are pushed off if they fall on Shabbat, the 10th of Tevet is never deferred, even if it should fall on Shabbat.
This fast is considered most severe because the siege of Jerusalem unleashed a chain of events that led directly to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. The siege was the first step in a progressive weakening of Jerusalem, and therefore the fast commemorating this event is particularly strict, even more than the 9th of Av, which marks the actual destruction.
In modern Jewish history, the Six-Day war was a pivotal event. The Jewish people won a decisive victory, and huge tracts of land, the heart of our ancient homeland, came under Jewish control. Included in that land were the resting places of our forefathers, in Hebron and Bethlehem, and most central of all, the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem, the sole remnant of our once glorious Temple.
However, within those first hours of heady triumph, Israel took a troubling step. Moshe Dayan, then-Prime Minister of Israel, met with Arab leaders and assured them that he had no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount -- including the ban on Jewish prayers in that spot!
His intentions were to mollify the Arabs, to avoid offending them, to establish a tolerant and harmonious relationship with them. However, the outcome was the direct opposite of his plan. The Arabs took his obsequiousness as a sign of weakness, as a lack of resolve to hold on to Jerusalem. The Arabs never compromised on a single demand of theirs, for the return of all the territory won in the Six-Day-War. The Israelis, on the other hand, seemed never to learn the lesson that the only way to ensure peace is by standing firm and demonstrating that we have no intention of relinquishing the land given to us by G-d.
Over and over, the Israelis have made compromises, given up territory, even offered them a state with Jerusalem as the capital – with no letup in the attitude of terror and mayhem. Recently the Israeli Prime Minister has agreed to a construction freeze in Jerusalem, the holy city and heart of our homeland.
Over the years, the Rebbe responded forcefully to the first step that the modern Jewish state took to relinquish control over Jerusalem and our holy places. The Rebbe recognized that compromise on these matters would lead only to further demands, as the subsequent events have amply proven. The first step—caving to a siege mentality—is what leads us on a path to ruin.
It is time for us to extricate ourselves from the march towards doom and destruction. We are now at the brink of Redemption, when G-d Himself will send his chosen redeemer. However, we must take part in our own Redemption by holding fast to the land in Israel that G-d has granted us with abundant miracles. Then we are assured that G-d will complete the process of Redemption with all due haste, with not a moment to spare.