Three dark weeks
This year it starts on Thursday July 9thth and ends on Thursday, July 30thth. Attentive Jews fast on both days. And between these days, tradition calls for celebrations to be abstained. Why? Because in those days, in the calendar of history, destruction and misfortune struck the otherwise “chosen ones”.
The first day, 17thth In the month of Tammuz, Moses recalls the biblical story of Moses breaking the Torah tablets when he saw his people worshiping the golden calf at the foot of the mountain. Centuries later, on the same day of the same month, Roman invaders broke the walls of Jerusalem, and an invading general burned a Torah scroll and raised an idol to profane the temple.
Starting on the first day of the month Av (called in Hebrew M’nakhem Av – “Consolation Father”) Grief practices are strengthened. No weddings, no listening to music, no washing of clothes, no planting of trees or flowers etc. Everything culminates in the fasting day from Tish’a b’Av – the 9thth Day of the month Av, a full day of mourning on the anniversary of the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BC AD and the Second Temple in 70 AD. On this day of this month, Jews were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition. On this day of this month, all Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were killed during the Auschwitz Holocaust. Today’s Jews remember such events and have every reason to mourn. In the synagogue we can hear the sad song of the Lamentation Book – Eykha – as the prophet wails: “How does the city stand, in which a populous nation once lived?”
Right there there could be an indication of what a contemporary commentator called Tish’a b’Av: “A Guide to Jewish Survival.” With our famous stubborn nature and some divine help, our people survived the many devastations we remember during these three weeks to achieve both group and individual success in many parts of the world, especially in the restored homeland.
Yes, there are good reasons to mourn our past tragedies in these three weeks. And just as good motivation to learn from them and build future joys.
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