Today is Asarah B’Teves, a fast day marking the date upon which Nebudchadnezer commenced his siege on Yerushalayim.
The Rambam points out that the reason for fasting is to awaken our hearts to teshuvah. Shouldn’t our hearts always be awakened to teshuvah? Why do we need a fast day to encourage this awakening?
Perhaps fast days serve to shake us from our slumbering routine practices, from the squeezing of our yiddishkeit in to our hectic schedules, from our plateaus.
Maybe we are being told “Slow down! Give yourself some time to think, to introspect, to grow.”
The fact that Asarah B’Teves commemorates the beginning of the siege of Yerushalayim is instructive. Beginnings are important. More than 2500 years ago, one might not have predicted that the commencement of the seige on Yerushalayim would have had such disastorous results. Looking back, however, we see that this first step led to the ultimate destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the beginning of the Babylonian Exile.
The same can be said, all the more so, for teshuvah. Beginnings are important. Any journey starts with the first step.
So, slow down, think and start (or recommence) your journey.