Dateline Jerusalem — This week begins the Three Weeks. This is a time of mourning for all the catastrophic events that have continually occurred throughout Jewish history during this period on the calendar, between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av).
Danger and tragedy seem to be the themes. The walls of Jerusalem were breached on the 17th of Tammuz. The Holy Temple was set on fire and destroyed on Tisha B’Av. During the Three Weeks, other disasters have included mass murders, slavery, pogroms, the Crusades, the Inquisition, expulsions and exiles.
Jews have been mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple for thousands of years. When Napoleon was traveling through Europe, he observed Jews fasting and weeping on Tisha B’Av. “A nation that cries and fasts for over 2000 years for their land and temples will surely be rewarded with their Temple,” he said.
The Kotel (Western Wall or Wailing Wall) is a retaining wall that is the only remaining remnant of the Holy Temple.
That is why the Kotel is the most sacred place in all of Judaism other than the Temple Mount.
That is why the capture of the Wall, the liberation and re-unification of Jerusalem never again will be compromised by dividing Jerusalem.
That is why returning to the pre-1967 borders is not a viable alternative to a future “peace” with the Palestinians.
Unlike most Jewish holidays that are celebrated with elaborate feasts, we fast on the 17th of Tamuz and on Tisha B’Av (9th of Av).
The Three Weeks is a time for studying Torah (Bible), giving charity, and reflecting on our relationship with one another as it relates to Sinas Chinam, baseless hatred.
According to Isaiah 1:27, “Zion shall be redeemed through justice and her penitent through righteousness. Baseless hatred is the sin that brought about the destruction of the Holy Temple.
According to Talmud Yoma 9b, baseless hatred is equal in severity to transgressing the three cardinal sins of idol worship, murder and sexual depravity.
Because the Three Weeks is considered a perilous time for Jews, especially during the Nine Days before Tisha B’Av, we avoid major operations, airline flights, boat trips, travel, swimming in the ocean, and any possible dangerous activities.
Observant Jews abstain from joyful activities such as listening to music, getting married, cutting their hair, shaving, buying new clothes, and buying a home or car. During the Nine Days, they do not eat meat or drink wine.
Even Christopher Columbus postponed his departure from Spain in 1492 by one day so as not to travel on Tisha B’Av. He gave the king and queen of Spain an excuse that the weather was bad, but would be good the following day.
Columbus and his family were Marranos, Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Inquisition but who observed Judaism in secret. On Tisha B’Av, the remaining Jews who had yet to flee Spain or convert were given the choice of converting, leaving Spain, or being killed.
Among events on the 17th of Tammuz:
- Moses smashing the Torah Tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments upon descending from Mount Sinai when he observed Israel’s worship of the Golden Calf, * Discontinuation of the daily sacrificial offerings in the Holy Temple leading to destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 423 BCE. One hundred thousand Jews were killed and the survivors exiled to Babylonia and Persia,
- Breaching of the walls of Jerusalem in 69 CE by the Romans with 2,500,000 Jews killed and 1,000,000 exiled and/or sold into slavery, t
- The burning of the Torah and an idol placed in the Holy Temple.
In more modern times:
- In 1239 Pope Gregory ordered the confiscation of all Talmud manuscripts,
- In 1391, 4,000 Jews were killed in Spain,
- The Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned and looted in 1559,
- The Kovno ghetto was liquidated in 1944 with all Jews sent to concentration camps and/or murdered, and
- In 1970, all Jewish property was confiscated by Libya.
Yet the 17th of Tammuz is not the saddest day of the year for Jews. Nor is Yom Kippur, as many non-observant Jews believe. It is Tisha B’Av. Events on that day:
- Burning of both Temples,
- Commencing of the First Crusade in 1096 which led to the murder of 10,000 Jews during its first month. Eventually, 2 million Jews were killed, and Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland were destroyed,
- In 1290, the start of the 400-year exile of all of England’s Jews,
- Expulsion of Jews from France in 1306 and
- Expulsion of all Jews in Spain in 1492.
Tisha B’Av events of recent times:
- Britain and Russia declared war on Germany during World War I,
- Russia mobilized its army that day and 400 pogroms (persecutions and attacks against Jews) occurred throughout Russia, Hungary, the Ukraine, and Poland.
- In 1941 Heinrich Himmler formally received approval for the Nazi Final Solution — to capture and kill Jews.
- In 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka concentration camp.
- More recently, the Gulf War began on Tisha B’Av in 1990. Saddam Hussein went to war against Kuwait and shot missiles into Israel.
- Interesting to note that Hussein named his nuclear reactor Tammuz I, and the Israelis eventually destroyed that in 1981.
Because the Holy Temple continued to burn on the 10th of Av, many observant Jews also hold that day in mourning.
Recent tragedies that occurred on that day include the unilateral disengagement of Israel from Gaza in 2005, resulting in rockets, missiles and mortars being fired into Israel ever since.
- In 1994, the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was bombed, killing and injuring hundreds, many of them children. Iran’s allegedly “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani was on the Iranian government committee that plotted the bombing.
Curiously, Rouhani and Palestinian Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazon) are described as “moderates.” Rouhani planned the bombing and murder of Jews at the Jewish Community Center in Argentina.
Our peace partner Abbas was responsible for funding the Palestinian massacre of Jewish athletes at the Munich Olympics.
If these are moderates, what can we expect from extremists? Yet, former President Obama and the European Union and European leaders could not wait to make a nuclear deal with Iran or comply with Abbas’ demands. Europe’s anti-Semitic history has reared it ugly head again. Needless to say, not much has changed when it comes to hatred of Jews.