This is the beginning of Rav Hirsch’s essay on the month of Teves (Tebeth) from my newly acquired first edition of Judaism Eternal- Selected Essays from the Writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (vol one):
The Tenth of Tebeth is the first of the four fasts which perpetuate amongst Jews the memory of their twice-suffered catastrophe, the downfall of the Jewish State.The memorial is no mere form.You are not invited to a merely idle mourning, to look back a little, to tie crepe on your sleeve, and to dedicate a tear of sadness to the departed great. The anniversaries of the fall of Jerusalem and Zion find you fasting. This fasting beckons you on. It reminds you that Jerusalem and Zion have not fallen for ever. It reminds you that it lies in your hnds to make “the fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth month and the fast of the seventh month and the fast of the tenth month to become to the House of Judah days of joy and delight”. (Zecharia 8.19.) It reminds you that you have but to will it and Jerusalem and Zion will rise again.For look, you fast on these days of remembrance in order to tell yourself that your fate and your life’s task are still linked with this catastrophe, and you have to go on repeating this fast until your destiny is fulfilled and until you can comprehend and accomplish your life’s task.Your fate is called “Galuth” and your life’s task “Teshubah.”
It turns out that Dr. Yitzchok Levine has posted the entire essay (published in Colllected Writings II, as well) on his website. The short essay is well worth the read and is available here.
The portrait of Rav Hirsch is from a page of Judaism Eternal.