b'WESTERN MARBLE ARCH SYNAGOGUEEngraving of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and his troops laying siege to Jerusalem.The Fast does more than mark the start of the Jerusalem siege. It also marks opportunities in history that the Jewish people have missed. We could have stopped the destruction of the Temple, but we did not do so. The Talmud states that the siege was successful because the Jews failed to do that which G-d asked of them: to repent, be loyal to G-d and to behave properly in accordance with their moral and Hallachic precepts. It is hard to believe that the Jews then were engaged in idolatry, adultery and murder. But apparently it was true. The Fast gives us an opportunity of reaffirming our responsibilities, ensuring that the virtual Temple in our hearts remains pure and clean and is not destroyed. Nebuchadnezzarreignedfrom605BCEuntil562BC.Hewas thelongest-reigningandmostpowerfulmonarchoftheNeo-Babylonian Empire, also designated the Second Babylonian Empire and historically known as the Chaldean Empire. This was the last of the great Mesopotamian Empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia. But it was short lived, being conquered after less than a century in 539 BCE by the Persian Achaemenid Empire, an ancient Iranian Empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Is it not fascinating that today Babylon and Iran still exist, but much diminished, the one ravaged by war, the other under the rule of despots, whilst the Jews thrive in freedom throughout much of the world, with their own Home in Israel? As a people, hurt but undaunted by much pain and suffering, we have waited thousands of years to establish a flourishing, democratic State; and to be recognised for our many achievements that have benefitted mankind. On the Fast of Tevet we should also remember those blessings and give thanks.34'