As Americans prepare for backyard barbecues and fireworks to celebrate their Independence Day in grand style, it should be noted that on the original 4th of July 245 years ago, Jews were fasting on the austere day of the 17th of Tammuz, commemorating the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem exactly 1,706 years earlier.
4th of July 1776-17th Tammuz 5536
On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence ], declaring that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject and subordinate to the monarch of Britain, King George III, and were now united, free, and independent states. Two days later, on July 4, that decision was declared publicly and the Declaration of Independence was signed.
That day coincided with the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz in the Hebrew year 5536. The 17th of Tammuz commemorates the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. It is also the day that Jewish tradition teaches that Moses destroyed the two tablets of the Ten Commandments after descending from Mount Sinai and discovering the Children of Israel engaged in the Sin of the Golden Calf.
The fast in Tammuz, the fourth month of the Hebrew Calendar, is mentioned by the Prophet Zechariah who predicts that in the Messianic era, it will change from a day of austerity into a day of celebration:
Thus said the lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness, happy festivals for the House of Yehuda; but you must love honesty and integrity. Zechariah 8:19
Rabbi: USA is the ‘Tikkun’ of Esav
Rabbi Dr. Leibush Hundert, the head of Simchat Shlomo Yeshiva in Jerusalem, was intrigued by the connection between the USA national celebration and the Jewish day of fasting.
“I definitely hope that there is a connection, that the US independence Day has some small light of Messiah and the Third Temple,” Rabbi Hundert said. “I care deeply about America and am a bit nervous about what is happening there these days.”
“America has a strong aspect of Esav, like other Christian nations, but in Tikkun (a positive fixing),” Rabbi Hundert said. He cited a commentary on the Prophet Obadiah by Rabbi Moshe Alshich, a 16th century Torah commentator from Tzfat.
“Esav, spelled in its complete spelling, is עשיו, can be rearranged to spell ישוע (Yeshua), the name of Jesus. The Alshich explains that all the Christian countries are the continuation of Esav. As far as Christian countries go, the Christians in the USA have treated Jews better than any other Christian country.”
“The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained that if you flipped the globe on its side and put Israel in its proper spiritual position at the top of the globe, the US would be at the bottom. This is not meant to demean the US. More so the opposite. Geula (redemption) will begin, or be based in the US and lift up Israel higher and higher. From the lowest can come the greatest.”
“Once the Jewish exile reached its furthest point, the opposite, the geula will begin. The prophets say that geula will come when Jews reach the furthest lands,” Rabbi Hundert said. “According to the Rebbe of Lubavitch, this was the US.”
Rabbi Hundert noted that just as the 17th of Tammuz commemorating the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls will become a celebration in the end of days, the actual absence of walls around Jerusalem will also become a cause for celebration, as described by Zechariah:
The former said to him, “Run to that young man and tell him: “Yerushalayim shall be peopled as a city without walls, so many shall be the men and cattle it contains. Zechariah 2:8
“Breaking down the walls of Jerusalem was horrible then but in the future, that will be a source of joy. For so much of the exile, Jews lived behind walls. But this never happened in the US. We came out from behind the walls. In Jerusalem, this will be when all the nations come to Jerusalem to serve Hashem.”
“It will also be when the walls of Jerusalem come down so the light of Torah and teaching can go out into the world,” Rabbi Hundert said.