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De Drie Vochen – The Three Weeks

Yesterday we entered the somber period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, known as the Three Weeks. We are called upon to reflect on the historical tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. This period marks a time of mourning and introspection as we remember the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem and other calamities that have impacted our nation.

According to our tradition, the were five calamities that befell the Jewish people on the 17th of Tammuz in different generations. First, it was the day that Moses broke the two tablets of stone, the Ten Commandments, on Mount Sinai. Second, during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 586 BCE the daily tamid offering ceased to be brought because no sheep were available. Third, during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the city walls were breached, leading to the destruction of the Second Temple on Tisha B'Av. Fourth, prior to Bar Kokhba's revolt in 135 CE, the Roman military leader Apostomus burned a Torah scroll. Lastly, an idol was erected in the Temple.

Because the day represented so many horrible things to the Jewish people it was observed as a day of fasting and mourning. It also kicks off three weeks of mourning and reflection leading up to Tisha B’av, the 9th of Av, the day we commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples.

Some of the ways we commemorate these loses during the three weeks are to fast on the 17th of Tammuz and to initiate a reduction in celebrations like weddings and concerts. Many will avoid getting haircuts and shaving, especially in the nine days leading up to Tisha B’av. Others will begin to study Eicha, the Book of Lamentations, that will be chanted on Tisha B’av.

The underlying theme of the Three Weeks is a reflection on our difficult history and a commitment to strengthening our community. By contemplating the lessons of our past, we can collectively work towards a brighter future.

May we use this time to find ways to create a world where these tragedies cease to exist.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel


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