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June 24, 2010 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-06-24

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It's a period of
soulful reflection
about the survival,
unity and strength
of the Jewish

Evening prayer at the Western Wall.

This section of the western supporting

wall of the Temple Mount has remained

intact since the destruction of the

Second Temple in 70 C.E.

Elizabeth Applebaum

Special to the Jewish News


hat it Is: The Three Weeks is
a period of mourning con-
sisting of three components:
The beginning, which is the fast day of
the 17th day of Tammuz; the continua-
tion, to the first nine days of the month
of Av ("The Nine Days") and the culmi-
nation, on the fast day Tisha b'Av.

When We Observe: This year, the Three
Weeks begin at sunrise on Tuesday morn-
ing, June 29. The month of Av begins on
Monday, July 12 (the first day of a month
is known in Hebrew as Rosh Chodesh).
The ninth day of Av begins Monday night,
July 19, and continues until sundown on
Tuesday, July 20.

and both Temples were destroyed on
the ninth of Av. In ancient times, the
Jerusalem Temple was the focal point
of Jewish national religious observance.
Its destruction was deemed a national
disaster, the end of Jewish sovereignty.
After the fall of the First Temple, most of
the Jews were deported to Assyria (which
later became Babylonia — today's Iraq).
The destruction of the Second Temple was
followed by the exile of the Jewish people
to the Middle East, North Africa and
Mediterranean Europe. Other calamities
also have befallen the Jewish people on the
ninth of Av.

Name of the Events: "The Three Weeks"
is self-explanatory. Tammuz is the name
of a month on the Jewish calendar that
is followed by the month of Av. The 17th
of Tammuz and the ninth of Av are three
weeks apart. As for Tisha b'Av: In Hebrew,
tisha means "nine Av is the name of the
month, b means "in." Thus Tisha b'Av
means "nine [days] in Av."

What We Observe: The 17th of Tammuz
is a partial-day fast — it begins at sunrise
and ends at sunset (although abstention
from food and drink is total). Tisha b'Av
is a full-day fast, with no eating or drink-
ing from sunset to sundown (Yom Kippur
is the only other such day). Also on Tisha
b'Av, we do not wear leather shoes or use
perfume, bathe for pleasure or engage in
marital relations. We do not participate
in enjoyable activities, even the study of
Torah, with the exception of the book of
Lamentations, the book of Job and other
literature of a mournful character.

Why We Observe: To commemorate and
mourn the destruction by the Assyrians
of the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem
and the destruction by the Romans of the
second Temple. The walls of Jerusalem
were breached on the 17th of Tammuz

Traditions Of The Three Weeks:
During the Three Weeks, we do not get
haircuts, buy new clothes or have wed-
dings, parties or other joyous events. A
stricter approach is not to listen to music
(although some allow recorded music).


June 24 • 2010

During the Nine Days — beginning with
Rosh Chodesh Av (the first day of Av)
until the ninth of Av
we intensify the
mourning by abstaining from meat and
wine, except on Shabbat.

The Services: On the 17th of Tammuz,
Aneinu ("Answer Us") is inserted into
the Amidah (Shmonah Esrei) prayer.
The Torah is read, the portion being the
standard reading for a public fast day
(Exodus 32:11-14; 34:1-10). Three persons
are called up. Selichot are also recited. In
the afternoon Minchah service, the same
Torah portion is read and a haftarah por-
tion is added: Isaiah 55:6 -56:8.

Tisha b'Av: Before the fast begins on
Tisha b'Av, we eat a last meal consisting
of bread, water and an egg. Synagogues
take down the parochet — the curtain on
the Torah ark — and dim the lights in the
Those who come to pray in the syna-
gogue sit in a manner appropriate for
mourners, that is, on the floor or on low
stools or benches. During the Ma'ariv
(evening) service, Eichah (the Book of
Lamentations) is recited. At the conclusion
of the reading of Eichah, we recite a num-
ber of dirges, or kinot.
At Shacharit (the morning service), talit
and tefillin are not worn. Aneinu is insert-
ed into the Shmonah Esrei. The Torah
reading is Deuteronomy 4:25-40, which
focuses on Moses' warning to the Children
of Israel of their fate should they forsake

the Torah (though in the end, they are told
God will have mercy and forgive them).
Three persons are called up. The haftarah
is Jeremiah 8:13 9:23.
After the morning service, kinot again
are recited, usually until midday (about
1:30 p.m.) or at least until noon. Many
of the kinot focus on the destruction
of the Temples, but many others recall
disasters that befell the Jewish people,
such as the Crusades, expulsions, the
Chmelnicki Massacres of 1648 (in Poland
and Ukraine) and other pogroms and the
On Tisha b'Av, the house of an obser-
vant Jew is quieter than usual, as televi-
sion, DVDs, computer games, music cds,
iPods, iPads and other forms of entertain-
ment are not on. Swimming is not permit-
ted. It is customary to visit a cemetery.
To keep young children occupied, many
parents take them to a public park or play-
At the Minchah (the afternoon service),
tallit and tefillin are worn. The Torah read-
ing is the standard fast-day portion, plus
haftarah (the same one read on the 17th
of Tammuz). By this time of day, it is per-
mitted to sit on ordinary chairs.
There is no special ceremony to end
Tisha b'Av. As soon as the fast is over, reg-
ular activities may begin. At the conclu-
sion of evening services, it is customary to
recite Kiddush Levana, the prayer for the
new moon. It is traditional to wait until
after midday of the next day (the 10th of
Av) to get a haircut. 0


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