Newsletter Parshat Vayigash – Taanit Asara Betevet



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Taanit Asara BeTevet on 
Bank Holiday 
FRIDAY 25th December
Fast Begins 6:27 am
Shacharit 8:00 am
Shabbat Begins 3:38 pm
Fast Ends 4:46 pm 
Wishing everyone an easy fast
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Taanit Asara Betevet on FRIDAY
Minhagim for Moroccan Jews
Why is it so important to fast on ‘Asara BeTebet?

On the 10th of Tebet the holy city of Jerusalem was besieged. This was the beginning of a chain of calamities that would eventually lead to the destruction of the Bet HaMiqdash. Derush Hatam Sofer (Ribi Mosh Sofer, Derush Adar 7:4) explains that on the 10th of Tebet it was decided in Heaven that the Bet HaMiqdash was to be destroyed. Every subsequent year a judgment is held in the heavenly courts to determine whether or not the third Bet HaMiqdash is to be rebuilt. Due to this important reason, even if the fast fell on Shabat, [1] we would be required to fast (Abudraham, O”H Siman 550), as the pasuq states (Yehezqel 24:2) “be’esem hayom haz” indicating that the fast must be conducted on the exact day it falls on. Even on Tish’a BeAb we do not fast if it lands on Shabat. Therefore, when fasting on ‘Asara BeTebet one should realize that we are all being judged on whether or not the third Bet HaMiqdash will be rebuilt this year and we should make this fast very dear to us.

[1] Before our modern day set calendar, the holidays and fast days would be determined based upon when Rosh Hodesh was established. Rosh Hodesh would only be established once two witnesses came to the Bet Din and testified that they had seen the moon. Nowadays, with our fixed calendar, the 10th of Tebet can never fall on Shabat.  

This year there is the rare occurrence where the fast of ‘Asara BeTebet falls out on a Friday. There are some differences when this situation occurs compared to when the fast falls on a regular weekday, see below for those differences.

Tora Reading

When this fast occurs on ‘Ereb Shabat as opposed to a regular weekday, Moroccan Jews follow the Bet Yosef’s ruling (O”H Siman 550) [2] to not read the parasha of VaYehal Mosh that is read at Minha on normal fast days.[3] Some write that this is still the minhag of Meknes.[4]

[2] Opposing the opinion of the Agur who quotes the Shibol HaLeqet. HaMalakh Refael Berdugo (Torot Emet, O”H 550:3) writes that the custom of Moroccan Jewry is to follow the Agur. See also Shufr DeYosef Berdugo and Ribi David ‘Obadia (Nahagu Ha’Am) who quotes the Torot Emet.

[3] This is because the holiness of Shabat already starts from hasot of Friday. Therefore, we do not read such perashiot. See HaMalakh Refael Berdugo (ibid.) who writes this but clarifies that on fast days that fall during the week the Tora is read at Minha, Nahagu Ha’Am (Ta’aniot), and Ribi Yosef Berdugo (Shufr DeYosef, Hilkhot Ta’anit).

[4] See Maghen Abot (notes of e”H Ribi Abraham ‘Amar s”t (Luah Be-ito) in the name of Ribi Dabiliski) who holds that this custom should be upheld by those who have such a tradition. E”H Ribi Yishaq Rasabi s”t writes that certain Yemenite communities did not read this Tora portion either (see S”A HaMequsar).

Nevertheless, for reasons unknown it appears that the prevalent custom nowadays is to read the Tora at Minha even in Moroccan synagogues.[5]

[5] Although this custom is mentioned in the above sources, it appears that it was not prevalent in most communities. In the Kisur Shulhan ‘Arukh of Ribi Refael Barukh Toledano this minhag is not mentioned. Furthermore, when the Shufr DeYosef and Nahagu Ha’Am do mention it, they do not write that this is what was practiced, they simply quote what they found in the Torot Emet. After discussing the matter with e”H Ribi Shelomo Dayan s”t (author of ‘Ateret Shelomo), and others, it was unanimously agreed that the minhag to not read the parasha is not the prevalent one, and one should indeed read from the Sefer Tora at Minha when the fast of ‘Asara BeTebet falls on a Friday. E”H Ribi David Banon s”t mentions that he was in Morocco 14 years ago when the fast fell on ‘Ereb Shabat, and e”H Ribi Shim’on Suissa s”t was posek to read from the Tora and further mentioned that if the tefila would be at Minha Gedola, tefilin would also be worn. E”H Ribi David Peres s”t mentions that his community in Caracas, Venezuela also reads from the Sefer Tora at Minha as well as e”H Ribi ‘Amram Assayag s”t (Chief Sefaradi Rabbi of Toronto). See also Osar HaMikhtabim (Heleq 3, 829), VaYomer Yishaq (Ta’aniot Siman 2), Ma’as Bereshit (Ta’anit), and Shoshanim LeDavid Sabah (Heleq 2, Siman 4).  

During the Tora reading on fast days, the minhag is that when the reader reaches the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Shelosh ‘Esr Midot, beginning from “Ado-nai, Ado-nai”), he stops while the congregation says them aloud; he then reads them aloud himself and continues with the rest of the reading.[6] It should be mentioned that this is only done on fast days and not on Shabat Perashat Ki Tisa when the same portion is read. Qadish is not said after this reading, rather the Tora is returned to the hekhal followed by Qadish and the ‘Amida.[7]

[6] E”H Ribi Mordekhai Lebhar s”t explains that this is done in order to awaken the congregation during fast days to change their ways and start emulating the midot of their creator, Hashem, Yitbarakh Shemo La’ad. See Maran HaHida in LeDavid Emet (Siman 10:10) who says this is the minhag, Ribi Yishaq ibn Danan (LeYishaq Reah 100), Ribi Yosef Benaim (Noheg BeHokhma, Sefer Tora 4 p.141) who brings this minhag in the name of the Sefer HaHasidim (Siman 200), and Ribi David ‘Obadia (Nahagu Ha’Am, Ta’aniot, p.116).

[7] See the Moroccan mahzor Hamesh Ta’aniot.


The Bet Yosef (Siman 46) rules that tefilin must be worn during Minha on fast days since we are lacking in the 100 berakhot that one is required to say everyday due to the fact that we are not eating and miss out on those berakhot. Therefore, the minhag in Morocco developed to wear the talet and tefilin at Minha with a berakha, on all fast days, in order to arrive at these 100 berakhot.[8]

[8] See Ribi Yishaq Benoualid (VaYomer Yishaq, Liqutim: Ta’anit 2). So too is the custom in Fes (heard from e”H Ribi Aharon Monsonego s”t), Meknes, Marrakech, Tanger, Tetouan (e”H Ribi Ya’aqob Benaim s”t, Maghen Abot, O”H p.428 79), and most other cities.  

However, when a fast falls on ‘Ereb Shabat (Friday) tefilin are not worn after hasot, therefore they are not worn at Minha, even according to Moroccans.[9]

[9] Ribi Yishaq Benoualid (VaYomer Yishaq, Heleq 1, Liqutim O”H Ta’aniot), however, rules that when the fast falls on ‘Ereb Shabat, tefilin are NOT worn because the holiness of Shabat has already presided. He bases his ruling on reasons rooted in Qabala. The posqim who mention this minhag seem to imply that even if Minha Gedola is prayed, one still does not wear tefilin because it is after hasot; see Maran HaHida in Mahziq Berakha (Siman 267) and Kaf HaHayim (Siman 25:100).  


לוח זמני תפלה לחורף תשפ״א

מוצאי שבת



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25/26 Dec


Q & A on Parashat Vayigash

All references are to the verses and Rashi’s commentary, unless otherwise stated.

  1. What threatening words did Yehuda say to Yosef?
    44:18 – He threatened that Yosef would be stricken with leprosy, like Pharaoh when he took Sarah from Avraham. Alternatively, Yehuda threatened to kill Yosef and Pharaoh.
  2. Why did Yehuda say his missing brother died?
    44:20 – Yehuda feared that if he said his missing brother was alive, Yosef would demand to see him.
  3. Why was Yehuda the one to plead for Binyamin?
    44:32 – He was the one who took “soul” responsibility for him.
  4. What do we learn from Yosef telling his brothers “Go up to my father”?
    45:9 – We learn that Eretz Yisrael is higher than all other lands.
  5. What two things did the brothers see that helped prove that he was really Yosef?
    45:12 – He was circumcised like they were, and he spoke lashon hakodesh.
  6. Why did Binyamin weep on Yosef's neck?
    45:14 – Binyamin wept for the destruction of Mishkan Shilo built in Yosef's territory.
  7. Why did Yosef send old wine to Yaakov?
    45:23 – Elderly people appreciate old wine.
  8. What did Yosef mean when he said “Don't dispute on the way”?
    45:24 – He warned that if they engage in halachic disputes, they might not be alert to possible travel dangers.
  9. What happened to Yaakov when he realized Yosef was alive?
    45:27 – His ruach hakodesh (prophetic spirit) returned.
  10. Why did G-d tell Yaakov, “Don't fear going down to Egypt”?
    46:3 – Because Yaakov was grieved to leave Eretz Canaan.
  11. “I will bring you up” from Egypt. To what did this allude?
    46:4 – That Yaakov would be buried in Eretz Canaan.
  12. What happened to the property that Yaakov acquired in Padan Aram?
    46:6 – He traded it for Esav's portion in the Cave of Machpelah.
  13. Who was the mother of Shaul ben HaCanaanit?
    46:10 – Dina bat Yaakov.
  14. When listing Yaakov's children, the verse refers to Rachel as “Rachel, wife of Yaakov.” Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah are not referred to as Yaakov's wives. Why?
    46:19 – Rachel was regarded as the mainstay of the family.
  15. Yosef harnessed his own chariot instead of letting a servant do it. Why?
    46:29 – Yosef wanted to hasten to honor his father.
  16. Why were shepherds abhorrent to the Egyptians?
    46:34 – Because the Egyptians worshipped sheep.
  17. Why did Yosef pick the weakest brothers to stand before Pharaoh?
    47:2 – So Pharaoh wouldn't see their strength and draft them.
  18. What blessing did Yaakov give Pharaoh when he left his presence?
    47:10 – That the waters of the Nile should rise to greet Pharaoh.
  19. Yosef resettled the land of Egypt, moving the people from city to city. What were his two motives for this?
    47:21 – In order to remind them that they no longer owned the land, and to help his family by removing the stigma of being strangers.
  20. Whose fields were not bought by Yosef?
    47:22 – The Egyptian priests.


Halachot from Maran Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Ztz'l

תענית עשרה בטבת בשנה זו 

יום ששי,
הוא צום עשרה בטבת

כמו זו, שחל יום עשרה בטבת בערב שבת, נחלקו רבותינו הראשונים
יש לסיים את התענית כבכל תענית, או שיש לאכול לפני סיום הצום, כדי שלא להכנס לשבת
כשהוא מעונה. ולהלכה, יש לסיים את התענית גם כשהיא חלה ביום ששי. (הרמ”א סימן
רמט, חזון עובדיה ד' תעניות עמוד טו). אולם אין לדחות את צאת הצום יותר מדאי

להקדים מעט את תפלת המנחה של ערב שבת (בכעשרים דקות יותר מוקדם מהרגיל, בארץ ישראל
בערך בשעה ארבע אחר הצהריים), ומסיימים את החזרה לפני השקיעה (כי בחזרת הש”ץ
יש קריאת התורה וברכת כהנים), ולאחר מכן מזדרזים כמה שניתן כדי שיוכלו הקהל להגיע
לבתיהם לקדש ולסעוד מוקדם ככל האפשר

Tenth of Tevet

Important Note: On, Friday, is the Tenth of Tevet, a public fast
day for the entire Jewish nation. On a year like this when the Tenth of Tevet
falls out on Erev Shabbat, the Rishonim disagree whether one should complete
the fast until the onset of Shabbat or if one should not complete the fast so
as not to enter Shabbat while suffering from the fast. Halachically speaking,
the Rama (Chapter 249, Section 4) rules that one must complete the fast and
continue fasting until nightfall. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef
zt”l rules likewise in his Chazon
Ovadia-Arba Ta’aniyot (page 15) where he proceeds to prove that this is indeed
the opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch as well. 

During Mincha, there is Torah reading and Birkat Kohanim followed by Kabbalat Shabbat and Arvit. Then recite Kiddush, and
begin eating as close to the end of the fast as possible
out of concern for the opinions among the Rishonim who prohibit entering
Shabbat while fasting. This is indeed the procedure that Hagaon Harav David
Yosef Shlit”a announced would be followed tomorrow night in his prestigious Bet
Midrash Yechave Da’at in Jerusalem. May Hashem change all of our fast days into
days of festivity and rejoicing, speedily and in our days, Amen.