The Jewish Blog of Why: Why do we observe the Three Weeks?

By Rabbi Jonny Roodyn

The Three Weeks from the 17th of Tammuz until the 9th of Av commemorate the time between the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple.

In order to keep the memory of Jerusalem alive within us, the Sages some 2000 years ago instituted a number of rules and regulations designed to help us feel the loss of the Temple.

Unlike the laws of mourning a loved one which start with the intense period before the funeral (aninut) and the focussed mourning period of shiva before being relaxed somewhat for the 30 days and 1 year period, mourning for Jerusalem works the other way.

We start with the 3 weeks where we avoid weddings and music. Things get more intense with the restrictions on meat and wine in the 9 days at the start of the month of Av. The mourning process climaxes with us literally sitting shiva for the loss of the Temple as we sit on the floor on Tisha B'av night.

Unlike the loss of a loved one, where the pain is felt immediately,  many people do not naturally feel the loss of the ancient city of Jerusalem, so the mourning practices help us get into the zone with increasing intensity.

These three weeks are really an opportunity to connect with Jewish history and destiny and to appreciate the miracle of Jewish survival over the last 2000 years which was largely due to us knowing very clearly where we come from.

- May 15th 2012

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