The Seventeenth of Tammuz was supposed to be the day on which the Tablets of the Covenant were received and given to Israel, and the Ninth of Av was the day when the Spies would to return from the Land of Israel and proclaim, “The land is very good!”
The Mishnah teaches us that the tablets were broken on the 17th of Tamuz as a result of the building of the Golden Calf. Rav Kook explains that if we understand the essence of idolatry we can find a way to mend the broken tablets.
Did Jews fast over the destruction of the First Temple when the Second Temple stood? Must pregnant and nursing women abstain from eating and drinking on minor fasts? Rabbi Eliezer Melamed addresses these and other important questions.
Fast days are occasion for introspection and repentance. After all, we are not fasting over the distant, unrelated past; we are fasting in response to our own present situation. How is it that instead of mourning we remain complacent and indifferent?
There is a tendency, on fast days, for people to concentrate upon the calamities of the past and on the stages that led up to the destruction of the Temple. People reflect on the distant past when they aught - says the Rambam - consider the present.