“The Three Weeks” is a period of Jewish semi-mourning when we remember the loss of the Jeruasalem Temples and our national exile. It begins with the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz (this year on Tuesday July 15th) and ends on the morning after the Fast of Tisha B’Av (9th of Av).
For more on the laws, customs, observances and inspiration of “The Three Weeks” see this mini-site on Chabad.org
In terms of observance, during the 3 Weeks observant Jews do not celebrate weddings, go to live concerts or take haircuts. Once the Nine-Days (last 9 Days of the 3 Weeks) we don’t eat meat or drink wine, go swimming or leisure bathing etc.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe adds that these 3 Weeks are an opportune time to learn all we can about the Jerusalem Temple, to reconnect with it in a positive way. The Rebbe always sought a positive approach, and therefore found silver linings in the semi-mourning period of the 3 Weeks. For example, Shabbat is a time when mourning and sadness are not appropriate, so the Rebbe made a special emphasis on joy during each Shabbat of the 3 Weeks.
The last Shabbat of the 3 Weeks, the one preceding Tisha B’Av is known in many Jewish communities as Shabbat Chazon (Vision). It is named thus for the Haftorah read that week of Isaiah’s vision of the destruction of the Temple. Based on a teaching and parable of Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, the Rebbe, in good Chassidic form, preferred a positive meaning of Chazon. To to the Rebbe it is a Shabbat of Vision of hope and renewal and rebuilding. For on this Shabbat each Jewish soul is shown, deep inside one’s heart, a spiritual image of the 3rd Temple. So instead of the Shabbat of the Chazon nightmare of destruction, the Rebbe turns it around to be a Shabbat of a joyous and uplifting vision of redemption.
The Shabbat after Tisha B’Av is called Shabbat Nachamu (Shabbat of Comfort) also based on the opening words of that week’s Haftorah. It begins a series of 7 Weeks where the Haftorahs are full of comfort after the downers of the 3 Weeks. In large Jewish communities there are live concerts and singles weekends, and big celebrations planned for the Sat Night of Shabbat Nachamu.
And at the end of the 7 Weeks of Comfort? It’s Rosh Hashanah! Summer is slipping away, let’s make the most of it!