Today is the fast of the seventeenth day of the Jewish month of Tammuz and it ushers in the period, in the Jewish calendar known as the The Three Weeks.
These twenty one days are a very sad time for our nation as we remember all the calamities that have befallen us over the millenia. As we go through the period, the laws of mourning become stricter, so that, from the 1st of the Month of Av, we enter The Nine Days
where we are prohibited from doing any that one could consider as "entertainment" or pleasurable such as drinking wine or eating meat or even going swimming.The culmination of the entire period takes place on the ninth of Av, which is the saddest day in our calendar and spookily, the day on which, not only both temples were destroyed but many other terrible atrocities also occurred.
The tradition is that, during this period, G-d does not look favourably on us or anything we do, so we don't want to undertake projects or activities that could be considered to be "risky" or "life altering", such as swimming, or moving house or even going on a holiday. In other words, we try to take on a lower profile in our lives. All weddings are put off until after Tisha B'av (literally the Ninth (Tisha) of Av (B'Av)
As a result, I will not be posting my songs for a while (which will no doubt come as a relief to many of you, who very politely chose not to comment on the recent entries!)
As is the case with orthodoxy, some are more stringent than others. Although I personally do keep some of the laws of the Three Weeks (such as avoiding having a haircut), I don't stop listening to music or going to the cinema until the 1st of Av, when I clamp down on my tendencies to stray from the path and make every effort to get into the spirit of the week-and-a-half of serious mourning. Unlike many of my peers, I don't stop shaving, except for the Fast of Tisha B'av itself.
This is undoubtably a troubling time of year for our people and especially so, in these days of unrest, both in Israel and througout the World. I don't think it will do us any harm to refrain from indulging in the lighter side of life and thinking about matters in a more serious light - and that, to me, is what the Three Weeks should be all about.