A Time for Reflection and Hope
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. Thank you.
Good question and good guess! Yes, “The Three Weeks” refers to a three-week period of time in the Jewish calendar. This year — 2017 — it actually began with the fast day of the 17th of Tammuz (on July 11) and concludes with the fast of the 9th of Av (on August 1). In Hebrew the “The Three Weeks” is called “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, and 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). The Torah warns the Jewish nation that their betrayal of God will be punished by exile, but also promises that our enemies will be repulsed by the desolation they see in the land they conquered. This is a 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.
We are taught that whoever mourns for the destruction of Jerusalem will merit seeing and rejoicing in its fully rebuilt state. May we merit and see this fulfilled soon in our days!