The Three Weeks Before Tisha B'Av -- Posted by hazzanmenes

The three weeks - a time of introspection and a reminder of the world as it is.

The month of July encompasses the greater part of the “Three Weeks,” the time when we are bein hametzarim, “in the straits.” This is the period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and Tisha B’Av. We are under siege, our walls have been breached, and the Temple will soon be destroyed. Of course, this we know from our vantage point of the future. While we are in the straits, we only hope that a miracle will come to save us.

I try to imagine what the Israelites were doing, what they were singing, what they were praying, in those three weeks. Was it all despair and kinot? Were there moments of elation, belief that this was the precursor to the coming of the Messiah? I imagine a whirlwind of emotion, fear, despair, surrender, defiance, and hope. Many of us live in that world of turmoil every day. The three week period is not simply a time of remembrance. It is also a time to experience that confusion of emotion.

As Shabbat is a taste of the world to come, so the Three Weeks are a bitter reminder of the world as it is. If we are to deal with the pain of our world, the loss and illness which must come to all of us at one time or another, we must practice descending into that pit, going to those dark places, and ultimately finding our way out. As Jews, we have collectively descended into the darkest of places, abandoned by the world, seemingly abandoned by God. Yet we have found a way out. Ultimately, we have found a way back to Israel. Ultimately, finding clarity, finding Torah.