Devout Jews around the world fast on this day. Here in Jerusalem this "minor fast day" begins at 4:15 am and ends at 8:13 pm.
All sorts of calamities befell the Jewish people on this date in history. For instance, Moses smashed the twin tablets of the Ten Commandments upon seeing the golden calf.
But Shiv'ah Asar bTamuz also commemorates the First Century breach of the walls of Jerusalem, the first step towards the destruction of the Second Temple on the 9th of Av ( another fast day in three weeks from now).
In this unusual scene, Jerusalem's Old City wall appears to be dressed in black robes of mourning.
But no! Just the opposite. The wall, rebuilt by the Ottoman Turks in 1535-1541, is being patched up and strengthened and beautified. And by whom? The Roman Legion? The Ottomans?
NO! By the ISRAEL Antiquities Authority.
In fact, here you see the happy crowds who came for the Jerusalem Light Festival a few weeks ago, along that same stretch of wall near Jaffa Gate. Full of life.
I do not fast on this day. But I do think about the breakage of Moshe's stone tablets and the breaking of my beloved Jerusalem's walls. And about this, Rachel at her wonderful "Velveteen Rabbi" blog has a good message:.
"[If you are fasting today], I hope that your fast is meaningful. May we find a way today to be open to whatever may flow through the places in us which are broken, remembering that our brokenness can be a place where holiness is found."