This past Sunday, traditional Jews observed the minor fast day known as 17 Tammuz, which commemorates several tragedies in Jewish history. 

The most important were the breaching of Jerusalem’s defenses by the Romans (who would destroy the Holy Temple three weeks later), and the smashing of the original Ten Commandments when Moses descended from Mt. Sinai to find Jews dancing around the Golden Calf. 

On a minor fast day we don’t eat from sunrise to sunset. This is much tougher in summer than in winter. 

Every ten to twenty years, 17 Tammuz coincides with America’s Independence Day. Most famously, this occurred on July 4, 1776, the birth day of our nation. 

America has become a beacon of liberty, and we are profoundly grateful for the religious freedom we enjoy here. 

Perhaps the confluence of 17 Tammuz and the original July 4th comes to teach us that whenever a door seems to slam in our faces, God opens another door somewhere else. 

As President Lincoln said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”