17 Kislev: the prayer of Ezra the Scribe

On this day, Ezra the Scribe went up to the Beit ha-Mikdash in Jerusalem and fasted and prayed in the face of a severe  assimilation of that time, following the 70-year exile in Babylonia:

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“And at the [time of] the evening offering, I arose from my fast with the rent condition of my garment and my robe, and I kneeled on my knees and spread my palms to the Lord, my God. And I said, « O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have increased over our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens…” (the Book of Ezra, chapters 9-10).

Ezra then issued a proclamation that all Jews residing in Israel should assemble in three days’ time in Jerusalem. On the 20 of Kislev he made an historic address to the Jews, exhorting them to adhere to the Torah.

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