17th of Tammuz

Ten Facts About the Three Weeks

1. The  Three Weeks are the period between 17 Tammuz, the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached, and the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av), the day when both Temples were destroyed.

2. We remember these days of suffering and distress that occurred at the Temples’ destruction, and keep laws of mourning during this period that increase in intensity the closer we get to Tisha B’Av.

3. The Hebrew name for the Three Weeks (Bein Hamtzarim = “between the straits”) is mentioned in the Book of Lamentations, which describes the destruction of the First Temple and the state of the Judean kingdom after it: “Judah went into exile because of affliction and great servitude; she settled among the nations, [and] found no rest; all her pursuers overtook her between the straits.”(Lamentations 1:3)

4. During the three Sabbaths of the Three Weeks, the Haftara reading after the Torah reading deals with punishments and calamities that visited the people because of their sins. (These three weeks of readings about calamities are followed by seven weeks of readings offering consolation.)

5. We keep laws of mourning during these three weeks, which intensify the closer we get to Tisha B’Av.

6. Most communities do not permit listening to music and attending parties which are not meals in fulfillment of a commandment (such as a circumcision, or a wedding for those communities who wed until the beginning of the month of Av). We also avoid reciting the blessing ofShehechiyanu on a new fruit or a new garment throughout the Three Weeks, besides on Shabbat.

7. All communities do not celebrate weddings on the week when Tisha B’Av falls, while most communities do not celebrate weddings throughout the Three Weeks.

8. “On the week that Tisha B’Av falls” is the period of time from Saturday night before the 9th of Av until 10 Av at noon. During these days, we are forbidden by rabbinic law not to shave, take haircuts and wash clothes. Some communities, such as Ashkenazim, do not do these activities the entire Three Weeks or the entire first nine days of the month of Av. Other communities who do, such as most Sephardim and Yemenites, avoid them only on the week that TIsha B’Av falls. The custom is also not to wear cleanly laundered clothes or take baths or showers for enjoyment during this period.

9. The Mishna mentions that it is forbidden to eat meat or drink wine only concerning the last meal one takes before the beginning of Tisha B’Av. However, in practice, most keep this restriction throughout the entire Nine Days.

10. During the Three Weeks, the attribute of justice prevails, so one should avoid going to places where there is any danger. For instance, many Israeli sailors have the custom not to go to sea between 1 and 9 Av because it is particularly stormy and dangerous.

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