Although today, Sunday, is the 18th of Tammuz, we fast today because the 17th fell yesterday on Shabbat, and we don't fast on Shabbat.
The 17th of Tammuz is a historically tragic day for the Jewish people; among other calamities, here is a partial list of the worst:
1. Upon descending Mount Sinai and seeing the Golden Calf, Moses shattered the first tablets upon which written the Ten Commandments (2448 in the Hebrew calendar, or 1322 BCE).
2. The walls of the First Holy Temple were breached by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces in the year 3184 (586 BCE).
3. A year earlier to the day, because of the Babylonian siege on Jerusalem and the shortage of sheep, the daily sacrifices in the Temple were terminated.
4. King Menashe, an evil and idolatrous king, placed an idol in the Holy Sanctuary of the Temple.
5. Titus and the Romans breaches the walls of the Second Temple in 3670 (70 CE), which led to the destruction of the Temple 3 weeks later on the 9th of Av ("Tisha B'Av").
6. The wicked Apostomos, made a massive persecution of Jews and publicly burned the Torah.
7. Pope Gregory IX ordered the confiscation and burning of all Talmudic manuscripts in 4999 (1239).
There's a lot more, unfortunately.
* * * * *
The politically-fueled forces demonstrating today - on the Fast of 17 Tammuz - want to convince us that they are seeking democracy. I truly hope they're sincere. But, if Hashem arranged that today be the date of their demonstration, it's a hint that this is just another attack on the world of Torah.
For sure, no one in Israel, should shirk his civic responsibility and duty. Our duties are twofold: spiritual and material. Those who learn Torah with full-time dedication are certainly fulfilling their duties. If one is not manning a spiritual battle station, then he should be manning a material battle station, as we wrote last week. It's funny though how the flag-wavers of democracy in Tel Aviv don't say a word about the growing number of Israeli secular youth who fulfill neither duty, spiritual or material. No one has said a word about them. Why? The whole business of "equality in the draft" is demogoguery, not democracy, where dozens of wannabe Knesset members who have nothing to offer are striving for the cheap vote in who will succeed in hating the World of Torah the most. They'll never learn.
At any rate, the threats against the World of Torah in Israel also come from Hashem. The demonstrators call themselves Suckers. They're right. Hashem wants us to improve and strengthen our Torah learning and dedication, so He uses suckers to threaten the World of Torah. This is all for the best and for our own good, like everything else Hashem does. The World of Torah in Israel, as well as our country, will emerge stronger and more dedicated. But meanwhile, the suckers - and the politicians who support them - are joining the ranks of Nebuchadnezzar and Titus. Spiritually, they have now exposed themselves.
Have an easy fast.