Today’s the fast of the 17th of Tammuz. It’s the official start of what is known as “the Three Weeks,” a time of national Jewish mourning that actually observed for twenty-two days. The tragedy we mourn is greater than the destruction of both Holy Temples, which took place the same time of the year. The real tragedies were the invasion and conquering of Jerusalem by enemy powers and our loss of Jewish sovereignty.
It’s not enough just to fast twenty-five hours, like Yom Kippur, on the 9th of Av.
It’s not enough just to fast on the 9th of Av and then continue mourning customs until noontime the following day.
And it’s not enough to just observe nine days of extreme mourning, from Rosh Chodesh Av until the 9th or noontime on the 10th.
We begin the period of mourning on the 17th of Tammuz, three full weeks before the 9th of Av even though historically we can justify beginning a week to more earlier.
That’s because the destruction of our Holy Temple and the conquest and occupation of Jerusalem and the rest of the Land of Israel and the exile of the Jewish People and the end of the Jewish Monarchy did not happen in one day or battle. It was a long process, and it took much longer than the three weeks we carve out of the Jewish Year to commemorate and remember these horrendous events.
We are commanded to remember that this great tragedy was really a series of events. The earliest causes are probably forgotten by now and can’t be accurately documented. At the time, they most probably weren’t even considered serious or worthy of worry. But little by little they chipped away at Jewish Monarchy, sovereignty and the Holy Temple built to worship Gd.
That is why I, and others, are so worried about the creeping dependence the State of Israel has on the United States. We must remember that we can’t rely of foreign countries for our security. Our greatest victories were when we had no foreign allies, because we have Gd.
And this is the true message of the Three Weeks, bookended by two fast days. We must remember that what may appear harmless, benign may very well be the beginning of a great tragedy, Gd forbid. It is always time to “recalibrate” and get on the right track.
Remember that just three weeks after the 9th of Av begins the Month of Elul when we are reminded to do Teshuva, repent before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.