As Jews, we believe emphatically that nothing happens by chance. The timing of every event is precise and fits the Divine master plan.
So, when the Iraqi courts chose to execute Saddam on the day before the fast of the Tenth of Tevet, it got me thinking.
There are a number of fasts scattered throughout the Jewish year. 10th Tevet is one of the more serious fasts. If it falls on a Friday, you still fast, even though you are normally forbidden from fasting just before Shabbos.
10th Tevet commemorates when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon's troops laid siege to Jerusalem. Seven months later, they destroyed Judaism's holiest site, the Temple. In a sense, the 10th of Tevet marks the beginning of that destruction and even of the subsequent destruction of the second Temple by the Romans over 400 years later. That's why it is an extra bad day on our calendar.
When Moshiach comes, each of the year's fasts will become holidays. Logically, the fast that represents the start of all the negativity is the first one that needs to go. (In fact, the Lubavitcher Rebbe explained this process at length on 10th Tevet 1991.)
How is the fast of Tevet "reversed"? Consider the following:
Saddam Hussein considered himself the Nebuchadnezzar's heir, sworn to complete the mission of destroying Israel.
"Nebuchadnezzar stirs in me everything relating to pre-Islamic ancient history.
And what is most important to me about Nebuchadnezzar is the link between the
Arabs' abilities and the liberation of Palestine. Nebuchadnezzar was, after all,
an Arab from Iraq, albeit ancient Iraq. … That is why whenever I remember
Nebuchadnezzar I like to remind the Arabs, Iraqis in particular, of their
historical responsibilities. It is a burden that should… spur them into action
because of their history." (Fuad Matar, Saddam Hussein: A Biographical and Ideological Account of His Leadership Style and Crisis Management)
In the late 1980s he promoted the Iraqi Arts Festival called "From Nebuchadnezzar to Saddam Hussein." He also had a replica of Nebuchadnezzar's war chariot built and had himself photographed standing in it. He ordered images of himself and Nebuchadnezzar beamed, side by side, into the night sky over Baghdad as part of a laser light show. And he spent millions rebuilding the ancient site of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar's capital city.
When Saddam attacked Kuwait in 1990, the Rebbe referred to an ancient Midrash that predicts how the "king of Persia" will attack an Arabic king and throw the world and Israel into confusion. Persia, Babylon, Iraq- are all really the same region. The Midrash concludes that the entire episode is a prologue to Moshiach.
- In Moshiach's time fast days become happy days,
- It all begins with converting the 10th of Tevet (source of all negativity),
- The 10th of Tevet is the day that Babylon rose up against Jerusalem,
- Saddam saw himself as the scion of Nebuchadnezzar,
- Saddam is executed the day before 10th Tevet and buried on the day itself!
Sounds like an important message from the "Big Boss"...