web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Three Weeks

Winiarz-072514

The wheel of time inexorably continues to turn, and at the moment we find ourselves in what is colloquially known as “The 3 Weeks.” One of the longest observances in the Jewish calendar, these 21 days make up the time period between Shiva Asar B’Tammuz and Tisha B’Av. Our prophets enacted, inter alia, that during these three weeks one may not get married, listen to music, make a celebration, take a haircut or buy new clothing.

What every growing Jew should be asking himself during this period is: What were Chazal’s intentions when they instituted these restrictions? What is it about this calendric period that necessitates putting a damper on our normally joyous lives?

For most of us, the answer is pretty obvious. This is when we mourn the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. However, what strikes me as odd is if Tisha B’Av is the day of mourning for the Temple, why would Chazal require us to begin the mournful observances three weeks earlier? Chances are, you’ll tell me that it is appropriate to start mourning on Shiva Asar B’Tammuz because that is the day our enemies breached the walls of Jerusalem. You’d be correct in saying so; I’ll even support that supposition by pointing out that all the sefarim call these three weeks “Bein Ha’Mitzarim – Between the Distresses” referring to Shiva Asar B’Tammuz and Tisha B’Av. However, I think you’ll agree that it is quite unusual for Chazal to set aside such a large period of time for any observance. Granted, we believe that all our distresses stem from the destruction of our Temple. But even if one argues that all events that relate to the said destruction should be mourned as well (a debated point amongst the commentators), one would still question three weeks being dedicated to such an end. Why do the anniversaries of the walls being breached and the actual destruction not suffice? Why did Chazal also legislate these additional weeks?

Perhaps one could suggest the following: Chazal intended more than just memorializing two days. We are taught, “Any generation that does not see the rebuilding of the Temple in their days it is as if they saw it destroyed in their days.” Thus, any generation in which the Beis HaMikdash is not built is obviously suffering from the same sins that caused it to be destroyed in the first place, for if they weren’t, the Beis HaMikdash would have been rebuilt. That is why Chazal saw fit to decree a three-week time period during which the causes of the tragedies that are mourned on either side of these days could be worked on and rectified to some extent.

What that means for us is that we have two choices: We can either submit to the restrictions placed on us for the duration of these weeks, and then move on with our lives, or we can utilize the guidelines to grow during this time period and fix the problems that make us need to mourn in the first place. I’m going to assume that you chose the latter; as Jews, we are always aspiring to grow.

The Talmud teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred. Bnei Yisrael did not properly fulfill the mitzvah to “love your fellow as yourself.” Their strife and infighting caused the Shechinah to depart from the Beis HaMikdash, and once that happened, our enemies were successful. By extension, if the Beis HaMikdash still hasn’t been rebuilt, that means that we have yet to purge ourselves of that hatred. Thus, the conclusion I draw is that these three weeks were enacted specifically for us to eradicate this issue.

What still needs to be addressed, however, is how exactly are we expected to work on this issue? In which ways are we supposed to work on loving our neighbor as ourselves? I suppose that each person is supposed to fashion his own strategies and come up with his own methods of improving himself in this area. But perhaps I could suggest that the restrictions of the 3 Weeks themselves are geared towards eliminating baseless hatred. Perhaps lessening our indulgences in certain aspects of life will bring us to love our fellow Jew more. How does that work, you may ask?

The Kli Yakar (Vayikra 16:30) explains why Moshe gathered Bnei Yisrael specifically the day after Yom Kippur to build the Mishkan. “Only when they were a unified congregation… would Hashem accept [them]. [But] it is normal for people to beg forgiveness from their friend on Yom Kippur and then…go back to their evil ways. So Moshe gathered them [immediately] after Yom Kippur and unified them into one congregation. This [immediacy was a necessary ingredient] because all strife stems from interpersonal dealings…” I think what this enigmatic Kli Yakar means is that the source of baseless hatred is that we are so involved in our everyday dealings, constantly fending for and taking care of ourselves that we grow to be self-centered. Thus Moshe knew that the best chance he had at uniting Bnei Yisrael into a unified whole was to do so immediately following Yom Kippur – that is to say, immediately following the day when everyone removed themselves to the greatest degree from indulgences and self-service.

Perhaps now we can understand the restrictions of the Three Weeks. When we are told not to get married, listen to music, make a celebration, take a haircut or buy new clothing, we are really being told to stop focusing so much on ourselves – and to spend more time thinking of others. If we can lessen our self-love, the source of baseless hatred, and manage to increase our love of others, then maybe this year we’ll merit being redeemed from this bitter exile and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash.

About the Author: Shaya Winiarz is a student of the Rabbinical Seminary of America (a.k.a. Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim). He enjoys public speaking and writing Torah articles and essays. He can be reached for speaking engagements or freelance writing at shayawiniarz@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Three Weeks”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with US President Barack Obama at the White House, Oct. 1, 2014.
Netanyahu, Obama Meeting at White House
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Shaya Winiarz
Winiarz-072514

The Talmud teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred.

Winiarz-062014

When it comes to passing on Jewishness we must follow the mother – for it is she who ensures it.

One who loves can buy a factory-made knick-knack for his partner, but a personal hand-made gift is infinitely more precious.

How can the Torah command you to love somebody?

Marror is the reliving of the bitter enslavement and matzah is the under-eighteen-minutes redemption.

What is the relationship between Purim and Pisces? In what way is Purim related to fish?

Granted, Hashem miraculously gave Betzalel unimaginable wisdom, but shouldn’t life-experience count for something?

Food can be eaten to fill your stomach. But food can also be eaten with the intent to recognize Creation and acknowledge the Creator. A bracha is not just a thank you.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-three-weeks-2/2014/07/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: