From Fasting to Communal Repentance. MT a an II.

In ancient Israel, the lack of winter rains was not only seen as an economic crisis, but also as a warning from God. Whenever the rainy season passed without rainfall, the sages proclaimed a public fast. Part 2 of the Mishnaic tractate Tacanit treatise deals in detail with the rituals that the patriarch, the president of the tribunal, the clergy and the members of the congregation were required to perform. The external ceremonies, such as the sprinkling of ashes on the ark, included various blessings which pointed to the real purpose of fasting: to set the heart back on the right path. The days of fasting, therefore, provide an opportunity to fulfil the prerequisites for conversion: confession and repentance of sins. The chapter also mentions the days on which fasting is expressly forbidden and those who are exempt from fasting in the strict sense. Lastly, because it was a matter of the repentance of the community, the sages also took care to ensure that thus traders did not fall into the sin of greed, and tried to exclude any attempts of abuse in business.

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Marjovszky Tibor, Márton János: From Fasting to Communal Repentance. MT a an II.. In: Református Szemle 115.1 (2022), 25--36

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