The fast of Asara BeTevet

The fast of the 10th of Tevet, Asara beTevet, falls today. It is a unique fast in that it is the only fast day that is not brought forward or deferred if it falls on a Friday.

On Asarah B’Tevet, the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet, in the year 3336 from Creation (425 BCE), the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. Asarah B’Tevet (this year, December 25, 2020) is observed as a day of fasting, mourning and repentance.

Even today, our enemies are still out to destroy us. This week, Esther Horgan Hy’d, a 52 year old woman from the community of Tal Menashe in Northern Samaria, went out for a jog in the nearby Shaked Forest near her home – and was murdered by an evil terrorist.

Esther Horgan Hy’d

Speaking to Army Radio on Monday, chairman of the Tal Menashe security committee Eliezer Roth, said that Horgan’s “entire life was devoted to peace and protecting the families. An attractive woman, who was physically active, who went to work out in a beautiful forest, completely sure she would return home.”

According to Roth, “For people who like to work out, running the forest is a completely routine thing to do. Her husband, Binyamin, told me, ‘We’ve been here for 20 years, we’ll stay here this is our place.'”

“The couple has six children, the youngest of whom is 13. The others are older, and some are married. They are good people, immigrants from France who arrived in Israel at a young age. Zionists, with a nice family,” Roth said.

Chair of the Tal Menashe council Rotem Hania, who lives near Horgan, said, “This is a difficult morning for us. Our community is quiet and we live in peace with the communities around us. Esther was an artist and a couples counselor. A happy, smiling woman who left a good feeling wherever she went. Two or three times a week she went to work out in the nearby forest. The entire community, including the children, go there to run. This is a very unusual incident and we’re all very surprised at what happened. They won’t break us. Our community is strong and united, and with all the difficulties, with God’s help, we will overcome.”

What a huge loss to her family, her community and to our nation! May Esther’s family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

The terrorist murderer was caught today, but that is scant comfort to anyone.

Asara BeTevet is also marked as Yom HaKaddish HaClali, the Jewish day of mourning for those whose graves are not known. It has become something of a religious parallel to the National Holocaust Memorial Day which is marked after Pesach.

A fascinating story of Holocaust survival, which ties right in to this very day, was told to us this week. I am translating from a Hebrew WhatsApp message that has been doing the rounds. First the Hebrew, and then the English translation:

שישים אלף יהודים היו בסלוניקי שביוון ערב פרוץ מלחמת העולם השניה. קהילה יהודית חיה ותוססת. רוב הסוורים בנמל סלוניקי היו יהודים. והנמל בסלוניקי היה סגור בשבת קודש. גדולי עולם היו הרבנים שם- ביניהם הראשון לציון הרב מאיר חי עוזיאל.

על הקהילה המפוארת הזו עלה הכורת הנאצי באכזריות.

היטלר כבש את יוון בסערה כדי להבטיח את האגף הדרומי שלו לפני פתיחת מבצע ברברוסה והמתקפה נגד ברית המועצות.

מתוך שישים אלף יהודי סלוניקי- הושמדו בבירקנאו כחמישים אלף. בזמן קצר ביותר – כשאיתם צועד רבם – הרב חיים חביב. הרב האחרון של סלוניקי

מעט ניצלו.

ביניהם משפחת בורלה. שהסתתרה.

אחרי המלחמה בשנת 1961 נולד למשפחת בורלה בן. ויקרא שמו בישראל- אברהם. או אלברט.

אלברט גדל ולמד וטרינריה. את הדוקטורט שלו בביוטכנולוגיה של הרבייה קיבל מבית הספר הווטרינרי של “אוניברסיטת אריסטוטלס של סלוניקי . בגיל 34 עבר לארצות הברית. הוא נישא לאשה יהודיה בשם מרים ונולדו לו שני ילדים.

בארצות הברית השתלב בורלה בתעשיית הרפואה. התקדם מהר מאוד והצטרף לחברת פייזר שם מילא את תפקיד ‘ ראש החיסונים העולמי’.

משם הדרך קצרה למינויו למנכל חברת פייזר בשנת 2019.

לאורך השנה הוביל בורלה את מאמצי החברה למציאת חיסון לקורונה במאמצי על.

את החיסון שיציל חיים של מליוני בני אדם בעולם הוביל ודחף יהודי. בן לניצולי שואה . מסלוניקי.

החיסון שלו יגיע גם לגרמניה. בה אלפי מתים. ויציל גם שם חיים.

י יהודים אוהבים חיים.

וזה אולי נר הנשמה הכי משמעותי שאפשר להדליק השנה לכבוד יום הקדיש הכללי שיחול בעשרה בטבת.

📌 הרב איל ורד


Sixty thousand Jews were in Salonika, Greece, on the eve of the Second World War. There was a lively Jewish community. Most of the stevedores at the Salonika docks were Jews, and the Salonika port was closed on the Jewish Sabbath. The Rabbis who lived there were giants of the Jewish world, amongst them the first Israeli Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Meir Chai Uziel.

The Nazi destroyer descended upon this glorious Jewish community with cruelty.

Hitler speedily conquered Greece in order to secure his southern flank before embarking on Operation Barbarossa and the attack against the USSR.

50,000 Salonika Jews out of the 60,000 were murdered in Birkenau, in an extremely short time. They were accompanied by their Rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Chaviv, the last Rabbi of Salonika.

Very few survived. Amongst those was family Bourla who went into hiding.

After the war, in 1961, a son was born to the Bourlas, and his Hebrew name was pronounced – Avraham. Or Albert.

Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer

Albert grew up and studied veterinary science. He received his doctorate in the biotechnology of reproduction from Salonika’s Aristotle University. At the age of 34 he moved to the USA. He married a Jewish woman called Miriam and they had two children.

In the USA Bourla integrated into the medical industry. He advanced very quickly and joined the Pfizer company, where he served as the head of global vaccinations.

From there the way was short to his becoming the CEO of Pfizer in 2019.

All through this year Bourla has been leading the company’s supreme efforts to find a vaccine against the coronavirus.

The vaccine which will save the lives of millions of people around the world was led and pushed by a Jewish man. The son of Holocaust survivors. From Salonika.

His vaccine will also reach Germany, where thousands have died. And it will save lives there too.

Because Jews love life.

And this is perhaps the most meaningful memorial candle that is possible to light this year in honour of the day of national Kaddish which falls on the 10th of Tevet.

– Rabbi Eyal Vered.

This story gives me shivers and yet is so incredibly inspiring. And its central message – because Jews love life – is what inspires us to keep on going even in the face of unspeakable tragedy. It explains how we have survived as a nation over thousands of years of persecution and displacement, and explains how we thrive today in the face of implacable enemies.

May the memory of all those killed because they are Jews be for a blessing.

יהי זכרם ברוך.

This entry was posted in Israel news, Judaism, Technology, Terrorism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The fast of Asara BeTevet

  1. Elise "Ronan" says:

    So extraordinary.

  2. Reality says:

    Oh my goodness!I have goosepimples fom that story!
    What an extraordinary way G-d has in closing the circle and helping Jews to help save lives.
    My grandfather and father in law always kept this day as a day of mourning for thise killed in the Holocaust,whose date of death was unknown.May their memories never be forgotten.

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    And, as Anne might have added to the translation as a coda, the saying that “God said to the Children of Israel ‘I give you the choice between life and death. Choose life, that you may live.'”

    And we have, collectively, over the millennia.

    And look what we have done with that choice.

Comments are closed.