Jewish Calendar in Action 13:46 Dec 31, '06 / 10 Tevet 5767by Hillel Fendel
Today, the 10th of Tevet, is a day of fasting, commemorating the siege of Jerusalem led by Nebuchadnezzar - the ancient Babylonian despot of whom Saddam Hussein claimed to be a reincarnation.
Just a day after the hanging of Saddam Hussein, Jews around the world remember another cruel tyrant - Saddam's self-proclaimed role model - and his murderous plans for the Jewish People. Nebuchadnezzar was more successful than Saddam in this regard, in that he destroyed Jerusalem and the Holy Temple, and put hundreds of thousands of Jews, including the nation's king and leaders, to death with unspeakable cruelty.On this day, the 10th of Tevet, Nebuchadnezzar instated a tight siege on Jerusalem, setting off the chain of events that led to the destruction of the First Holy Temple and a 70-year exile of the Jewish People from their Holy Land.
Today, nearly 2,500 years later, Jews around the world - and especially in the modern renewed edition of the Jewish State that Nebuchadnezzar tried to rub out - refrain from eating and drinking until sunset to remember the calamities that occurred at that time.
Saddam Hussein, who was hanged yesterday in Baghdad, just 90 kilometers from Nebuchadnezzar's palace in the ancient city of Babyon, modeled himself in many ways after Nebuchadnezzar. Much of the brickwork in the throne room of King Nebuchadnezzar's palace, for instance, was built by Saddam Hussein's workers. Just as the original bricks are inscribed with words praising Nebuchadnezzar, the newer ones - 60 million of them! - state that they were fashioned in "the era of Saddam Hussein, protector of Iraq, who rebuilt civilization and rebuilt Babylon."
In addition, in his book "Saddam Hussein, the Stairway to Heaven and the Return of Planet X," William Henry writes, "Saddam is saying he is the reincarnated Nebuchadnezzar... He is attempting to recreate and outdo the feats of the biblical king... It is well known that [he] has connected himself with Nebuchadnezzar, spending over $500 million during the 1980s on the reconstruction and the re-establishment of ancient Babylon, the capital of Nebuchadnezzar."
Nebuchadnezzar was Divinely changed into an animal for a period of time - an event that many recalled when the once-opulent Saddam Hussein was captured two and a half years ago living in nearly animal-like conditions.The Tenth of Tevet has also taken on another facet, in connection with the Holocaust. Many bereaved Jews who do not know the date or place of death of their loved ones recite Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for those who have died, on this day. For this reason, some consider this day as a Holocaust remembrance day.
Yishai Fleisher contributed to this article.