# 2980 The Early Fast Days of Teveth


Q. This year Nittel Nacht (the night of Dec 24) is after the Taanis of the Ninth of Teveth, mentioned in Shulchan Aruch. I always wondered if there is a connection between the two?
A. On question 2491 regarding not learning Torah on the Nit’l night and if one should also avoid learning on the Ninth of Teveth since according to some it is the day that Yeshu was born, we answered:
‘On question 1567, regarding the he 9 of Teveis, we wrote: ” Shulchan Aruch (O.H. 580: 2) counts as one of the days that misfortunes occurred to our forefathers and that is proper to fast on them, although not obligatory, the Ninth of Teves. The Mechaver adds; but we do not know what happened on that day.
Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a mentioned that the fact that we don’t know or we don’t remember today the historical reason why a decree or minhag was enacted, does not constitute grounds enough for not keeping it.
However, Mishna Berura (ibid. 13) indicates that in the selichos recited on these days, it is mentioned that the day marks the yohrtzait of Ezra Hasofer. Why we would observe the demise-anniversary of Ezra more than so many others we do not (such as the Avos or Aharon Hacohen) could be explained by what Tosafos Chadoshim on Megilas Taanis elucidates. This day actually marks the birth of “Oisso Hoish” and it coincides more or less with the winter solstice. Traditionally it was the occasion of pagan festivities such as Saturnalia. Later on, the Church, as it often did, adopted it and made it coincide with the birth in Betlechem of Yeshu and the celebration of Christmas, better known in our tradition as the night of “Nittel.” From the term for natalis or being-born in Latin. Or as some argue, it represents the first letters of Nolad Yeshu Tes Leteves. Yeshu was born on the ninth of Teves. (Nitei Gavriel – Chanuka p. 416).
Since the event, turned out to be catastrophic to our nation, giving rise to all kinds of severe persecutions, inquisitions and many a holocaust, it was therefore established as a day of mourning and fasting. The fact that the reason was hidden and deemed forgotten or was disguised by Ezra’s yortzait, was simply to avoid further conflict with the Church, that would only increase their antisemitism and abuse. See question 2489 above.
This day follows the Eight of Teves, also a time for fasting mentioned in Shulchan Aruch (ibid.). It marks the day the Torah was translated into Greek. This gave rise to false and mendacious interpretations of the text, and thus made possible and gave authority and validity to the New Testament.”
On question 242 regarding listening to a Torah tape on the Nit’l night we wrote: “This Shayleh actually is mentioned responsa Chai Binyomin (p. 301) where he argues that although you comply with the mitzvah of learning Torah just by listening and thinking (O.H. 47, 4 and Biur Halocho ibid.), since you do not make a brocho, (see Mishnah Berura ibid.) this form of learning may be different enough to permit it on Nit”l night.
Nitey Gavriel (Hanukah end of Volume p. 247) also permits thinking Torah thoughts on Leil Nit’l, basing this conclusion on the opinion that angels do not know the thoughts of humans.”
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that it is preferable to be machmir in the greatest of all mitzvos. the learning of Torah.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as advised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a


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