The Three Weeks – The Three Actions

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We are all familiar with the current “semi-mourning” period of the Three Weeks, from the minor fast day of the 17th Tammuz (Breaking G-d given holy tablets, Jerusalem walls breached, sacrifices stopped…etc) till the 9th of Av or Tisha B’Av. (Spies return and punishment of 40 yrs, Destruction of Temples and State of Israel on 2 occasions by Babylonians and Romans, the Spanish Inquisition, hosts of pogroms,  WW1, Gush Katif expulsion….etc). It’s a period of no marriages, no parties and additional customs/laws of no shaving-haircuts, no laundry, and even stopping to eat meat during the Nine days leading to the major fast of Tisha B’av. (Customs vary depending on whether one is Ashkenazi or Sefaradi).

During the 2000 years old exile before the State of Israel was even established, such a  period had huge significance, as we literally languished in ghettos, far-flung shtetls,or were thrown from country to country by an anti-Semitic world who constantly persecuted our people.

Yes, we felt the pain in this semi mourning period of the Three Weeks, year after year. The tears flowed as we sat on the ground on the fast of Tisha B’Av –  just remembering that we once had a Jewish State and a Temple in our own land. And maybe we even remembered the reasons behind the destruction and “punishment”!!! 

Fast forward to the early 1800’s when we started to return to Jerusalem, Hebron, Tzfat and Tiberias en masse. Fast forward to 1948, the redemption period is began moving along in earnest with the establishment of the State of Israel. Fast forward to 1967 and the miraculous Six Day War when we reunited with Judea and Samaria and the heart of Jerusalem.

The Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av have obviously taken on a new look and feeling. Even without the Temple and real Jewish control of the Temple Mount….even without a Jewish majority in and around the Old City……even with millions of hate filled Arabs on our borders and on our back doorstep, this period has a new significance and we cannot ignore the phenomenal positive changes  that have taken place. A flourishing Jewish State, Jewish sovereignty and rule, Jewish life, deserts are blooming, trees are giving their fruit, technological advances, a light to the nations in every field, wars are won, Torah is learnt in every corner of every city in Israel..etc. YES – we are back home as the true heirs to this G-d given Homeland and so the “Three Weeks” are no longer days of “only’ crying, mourning and tears.Just as G-d returned some of his people from Persia-Babylon after 70 years of exile and Tisha B’Av was cancelled in Ezra’s time, so too in our days, there must be changes recognized, (EVEN WITHOUT THE REBUILT TEMPLE) We must also remember that the prophet Zecharia speaking to the delegation from Babylon-Persia- reminded the delegation about the reasons behind the exile and destruction of the Temple. He spoke of them returning home to Zion and that the essence is also to remember decency, social justice, peace and honesty.

So what can we do and how do we relate today to the THREE WEEKS?

As I write these words in the office of Ateret Cohanim on Jaffa Road, during the Three Weeks (but before the month of Av) I can hear lively music of the Geula and dancing in Zion Square. It’s simply not the same atmosphere in these Three Weeks like before the State of Israel was established and when we were in Galut.(exile)

Should there be slight changes to maybe some of the wording in the Kinot (Lamentations)? Maybe yes.

Are some Kinot missed out altogether? Yes they are.

Have we lost our sensitivity to the Temple and maybe don’t realize the value, centrality and importance of the Temple? The answer is probably yes.

Do people relax some of the customs and laws of this period? I believe so, with maybe the “Nine Days” taking on more of important role and even just the week of Tisha Bav. The Three Weeks have been “cut down” in many ways by many people.

AND so what should we be doing?

This writer has brought everything down to 3 main needed actions in this THREE WEEK PERIOD.
1/ They destroyed Jerusalem. SO TODAY – We must build Jerusalem. This is your time to really give and support-invest with Ateret Cohanim and Yerushalayim.
2/ Senseless hatred (Sinat Chinam) destroyed the Beit HaMikdash (Temple). SO TODAY – We must show Ahavat Chinam. (Show love, acceptance of others who differ from us, more caring, friendship, forgiveness and openness to fellow Jews)
3/ We don’t YET have Hashem’s House – the Temple. SO TODAY we need to reconnect with the Temple Mount in every way possible. (The Kotel or Western Wall does not and should not replace the Temple. Why even focus on Western Wall Heritage Foundation that takes away from the centrality of the Temple itself?Kotel has value but let’s forget that the focus must always be Har HaBayit- the Temple Mount. Maybe learning and yearning about the Beit HaMikdash.

May we keep going in the Redemption process.May we keep seeing great strides in the return to our land even if from time to time there are small setbacks. May we all see greater Jewish life in and around the Old City.May we all reconnect with Har HaBayit (Temple Mount). May we quickly see these days of semi mourning COMPLETELY turned into days of joy and happiness like the prophets once predicted.And for those still living in exile – don’t get complacent.It’s exile and as the prophets Zecharia , Ezra and Nechemiah reminded those in exile- COME HOME- the return to Zion is paramount!

Article by Daniel Luria

Daniel Luria is the Executive Director and International Spokesman for Ateret Cohanim. He is considered a global expert on Jerusalem, with a focus on urban land reclamation initiatives. he is a sought after speaker, guide, and informal educator in relation to his work in Jerusalem.

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