The Three Weeks: A Time for Reflection and Hope

Question

I read that something called “The Three Weeks” is coming soon. What does this mean? I assume it refers to a special time in the Jewish calendar. Thanks

3 months

Answers

  1. Good question and good guess! Yes, “The Three Weeks” refers to a three-week period of time in the Jewish calendar. This year (2019) it begins with the fast day of the 17th of Tammuz (July 20, which this year is Shabbat, and therefore the fast is postponed until Sunday). It concludes with the fast of the 9th of Av (August 10, which is on Shabbat this year, and therefore the fast is postponed until after Shabbat). In Hebrew this time period of the “The Three Weeks” is known as “Shloshet HaShavuot”. The “Three Weeks” is a special three-week mourning period related to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, with the ensuing exile, along with many other national tragedies throughout history.

    There are various mourning-related laws and customs that are observed during these three weeks. For example: we refrain from weddings, music and haircuts during this period. By refraining from these practices we express and internalize our diminished happiness that resulted from these tragedies.

    But not all is “darkness.” As we reflect on the exile that our people suffered as a result of the tragedies that took place during this period, we also reflect on a comforting thought provided by the Ramban (Nachmanides). He says that although the Torah warns the Jewish nation will be punished by exile for their betrayal of God, the Torah also promises that our enemies will be repulsed by the desolation they see in the land they conquered. This is a very comforting promise – that the land of Israel will never “welcome” our enemies. It will prosper only when it is populated by the Jewish nation, to whom God promised it and granted it as an inheritance. Many claim that we see at least the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise in the success of the Jewish State in our time.

    Our Sages teach us that whoever mourns for the destruction of Jerusalem will also merit to see and to rejoice in its fully rebuilt state. May we merit seeing this fulfilled soon!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team