Bein ha-Metzarim

Meaning of Name

Hebrew (Bein ha-Metzarim): between the straits” or “in stress,” taken from Lamentations 1:3
Yiddish (Drei Vochen): “three weeks”

English Name

The Three Weeks (The second part of this period, from the 1st of Av onward, is known as the Nine Days.)

Calendar Month

June/July or July/August. In 2006, July 13 to August 3)

Jewish Calendar Date

17th of Tammuz to 9th of Av inclusive. From the 1st to the 9th of Av (the Nine Days), the mourning becomes more intense.

Duration

Three weeks

Purpose

To commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem (586 BCE and 70 CE, respectively).

Origin

Since this period falls between the existing fast days, it naturally took on a character of semi-mourning. Throughout the centuries, various practices developed.

How Observed

Among observant Jews, mourning practices may include not buying or wearing new garments; abstention from shaving, bathing, and haircuts; not celebrating weddings; abstention from meat and wine. These practices are more usually observed during the Nine Days, from the 1st of Av onward.

Special Synagogue Readings

Jeremiah 1:1-2:3, 2:4-3:4 Isaiah 1:1-27

Traditional Folklore and Customs

This period is a time when evil spirits are said to be active. It is considered a bad time to enter a lawsuit before a non-Jewish court; also “Teachers should not beat their students during this time” (Shulchan Arukh 122:2 *).


Endnotes

*Edition of Solomon Ganzfried (New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1961).

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