Last Sunday was the Jewish fast day of Shiva Assar B’Tammuz – the 17th day of the month of Tammuz. In addition to being a fast day, the 17th of Tammuz also marks the beginning of The Three Weeks of mourning leading up to the fast of Tish’a B’av. For these three weeks and the final nine days Jews generally accept some practices of mourning. However, there is much confusion as to what actions are prohibited when.1 Every year around this time I get a slew of questions as to what is permitted and prohibited during the three weeks and nine days and for some reason I never got around to posting my responses. To correct this oversight, here is my understanding of the laws and customs of the three weeks and nine days.
Tag: tisha b’av
After revisiting and recounting the horrors of Jerusalem’s destruction on 9 Av, we begin the process of healing and consolation. To this end, the sages instituted reading the seven haftarot of consolation beginning with Yeshayahu 40 and the appropriate introduction “nachamu, nachamu ami” commonly translated as “comfort ye, comfort ye, my people.” But for those who have experienced tragedy, there is little apparent in this haftara which would be considered comforting. Most of the haftara praises God or extols God’s superiority and might, which for those who experienced the hurban would be hesitant to deny, and few would turn to in times of crisis.
While there is no shortage of Biblical verses rebuking Benei Yisrael for their various transgressions, one such indictment which seems imprecise and perhaps overly harsh is the comparison with the people of S’dom and ‘Amorah. As we know, the legacy of S’dom and ‘Amorah is one of unmitigated evil and a benchmark for immorality which is used to this day. Their sins were so complete and evil so absolute that Hashem does not simply cause the cities’ destruction, but completely obliterates them with unparalleled divine wrath. And yet in Eicha we are told that “the sins of the daughter of my people is greater than that of S’dom” (Eicha 4:6), and in the Haftara of Hazon the Navi exclaims “Heed the word of Hashem you leaders of S’dom, listen to the words of our God’s Torah you people of ‘Amorah” (Yeshayahu 1:10). Were the sins of the Jews in fact as serious and complete to warrant such comparisons with S’dom and ‘Amorah?
The good folks over a KesherTalk have done a blogburst collecting tidbits regarding Jerusalem and 9 Av. Very informative and well worth reading over the fast day. (It was also…