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236 Kane Street / Brooklyn, NY 11231 / 718 875-1550

The “Drei Vochen” : The Three Weeks

Shiva Asar B’Tammuz (17 Tammuz) to Tisha B’av (9 Av) 5777
July 11 to August 1, 2017

The three weeks between Shiva Assar B’Tammuz and Tisha B’av mark a period of sadness and mourning—framed by two fast days—in which we remember some of the greatest tragedies of our history, including the destruction of the First and Second Temples, and the exiles which followed. During this period, festivities and indulgences are avoided or limited. For example, traditionally, we do not schedule weddings and other joyous occasions during the Three Weeks. In fulfillment of the Rabbinic dictum “When Av begins our joy is diminished” (Mishna Ta’anit 4:6), from 1 Av (Rosh Chodesh) to 9 Av, (sundown July 23 to August 1) we take on other restrictions. For example, many avoid eating meat and drinking wine during this period, except on Shabbat.

On the 17th of Tammuz (July 11 this year), in the civil year 70 C.E. Roman legions breached the walls of Jerusalem. This led quickly to the total downfall of Jerusalem three weeks later on Tisha B’Av, when the Temple was destroyed and the Second Expulsion began. The fast begins before daybreak and continues until nightfall.

Tisha B’av, the Ninth of Av, this year sundown July 31 to nightfall August 1, is the saddest day of the Jewish year. The First Temple was destroyed on this day by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. and the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 C.E. Apart from Yom Kippur, Tisha B’av is the only full Jewish fast day, which means that we fast from sundown to nightfall. The fast begins Monday night, July 31, at sundown and lasts until nightfall on Tuesday, August 1.

As on Yom Kippur, eating, drinking, bathing, anointing one’s body with cosmetics, wearing leather shoes and sexual intercourse are forbidden. Even the study of Torah, except for sorrowful texts like the Book of Job, are prohibited, since the study of Torah is a joyous activity.

Tisha B’av begins with a sad but beautiful service which will begin Tuesday night in the Goldman Center Community Room. We pray the brief Ma’ariv evening services in a hushed tone, and then (if it is physically possible) the worshippers sit on the floor for the chanting of Lamentations and the singing of Kinot (hymns) in an exquisite cantillation special for Tisha B’av. We dim the lights, which reflects our darkened mood, so PLEASE BRING A FLASHLIGHT to follow the texts.

The next morning, we join together for Shacharit Moring servies, again with Kinot, beginning at 7:30 AM and ending about 9:00 AM. Tallit and Teffillin are not worn but we add a Torah reading and Haftarah, again with the special Tisha B’av Cantillation.

After Tisha B’av is Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Comfort, Friday, August 19 to Saturday August 20, which begins a seven week period of consolation, self-examination, re-commitment to the community and spiritual optimism, culminating on September 20 with Rosh Hashana.

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