Ilanot: Tefilla on a Fast Day
Note: none of the chanichim in Ilanot are fasting, and everyone is drinking plenty of water and taking all appropriate precautions for the hot weather.
Rosh Ilanot Andy Weissfeld gave the chanichim (campers) an explanation about 17 Tammuz (observed this year on 18 Tammuz as it cannot fall on Shabbat). In brief, the Seventeenth of Tammuz (Hebrew: שבעה עשר בתמוז, Shiv’ah Asar b’Tammuz) is a Jewish fast day commemorating the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple. It falls on the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz and marks the beginning of the three-week mourning period leading up to Tisha B’Av. Like other minor fasts, Tzom Tammuz begins at dawn (first light) and ends at nightfall (full dark). In his captivating D’var Torah, Andy focused everyone’s attention on the 13 attributes of God which we read in the special Torah reading for this minor fast, Exodus 34:6-7:
Even more specifically, he asked the chanichim to answer the question: if you do something wrong by mistake, what characteristics would you hope the person you offended has? This was a great question that engaged all the chanichim and elicited much thought and many varied answers, listed on the posterboard (photo, above). Some examples: empathy, calm, giving the benefit of the doubt, looking at the big picture, not sweating the small stuff, and taking the high road. Andy left the chanichim with the hope that they will be very aware of these characteristics during the summer, as these are the characteristics that will help foster a peaceful, stress-free, low-conflict atmosphere.