Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Three Weeks in a Nutshell

Today begins the period known as the Three Weeks. At the end of this period is the Nine Days and then Tisha B'Av. During the Three Weeks, some of the laws of mourning apply, and the mourning observances are intensified during the Nine Days. In short, you "decrease" your joy. Some say that because of the divine judgment inherent in this period of the year, you should avoid risky and dangerous activities. [Like taking the bar exam and job hunting? Oops.]

Note: Ashkenazim begin mourning practices on the 17th of Tammuz (today). Sephardim generally begin mourning restrictions on Rosh Chodesh Av (the first day of the month of Av and the beginning of the Nine Days).

During this period, we are commemorating the destruction of both the Temples, though other calamities have also struck the Jewish people during this period throughout history. Tisha B'Av is the saddest day of the Jewish year.

Here, we will speak about the Three Weeks. We'll discuss the Nine Days and Tisha B'Av in more detail in the near future. 

So what is prohibited during this period?
  • Weddings (Engagement parties are ok)
  • Public celebrations
  • Haircuts
  • Dancing
  • Shaving (Some authorities only prohibit this during the Nine Days)
  • No saying the shechecheyanu blessing on new food or clothing (except on Shabbat-there is some difference among the authorities who allow it at all times)
Many do not listen to or play music during this period. Some only avoid music during the Nine Days when they increase their mourning practices. Professional musicians may be able to practice (but not perform) during this period, but you should speak to your rabbi. Singing may be allowed by your community.

If you are uncertain which practices you should be following and when, ask your rabbi.

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