Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The three weeks, or Ben haMetzarim

Today is the 18 of Tamuz , 5771

During the three weeks period, from the 17 of Tamuz until the 9 of Ab (July 19 to August 9, 2011) we observe some restrictions, in remembrance of the three weeks, from the time the Babylonian army breached the walls of Yerushalaim, until they burned and destroyed the Bet haMikdash in 586 BCE. During this time, besides the massive destruction and pillaging of the Holy city, thousands of Jews were tortured and killed.

These restrictions are not the same in every community.

In the next lines you will find some of the customs followed in the Mashadi community, and in most Sephardic communities as well.

SHEHECHEYANU for NEW FRUITS: Eating a new fruit that will require us to say the blessing Shehecheyanu during the three weeks, should be done only on Shabbat.

WEDDINGS: No weddings take place during the three weeks.

ENGAGEMENTS, with no music, are allowed until Rosh Chodesh Ab (August 1st).

CLOTHING: It is not customary to buy new clothing, except: 1. For a bride or groom that will get married after Tisha BeAb. 2. If the article will be substantially more expensive after Tisha BeAb. The Mashadi custom is to refrain from buying gold or any jewelry from Rosh Chodesh Ab.

HAIRCUT: It is permitted to get a haircut only until Rosh Chodesh Ab. Men should not shave from the Motzae Shabbat before Tisha BeAb until after Tisha BeAb. In the Ashkenazi tradition these restrictions begin from the 17 of Tamuz.

NEW HOUSE: It is permitted to buy, rent or move into a new house until Rosh Chodesh Ab.

Click HERE to watch: Leiby Kletzky's final gift

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why do we fast on the 17 of Tamuz?

Five tragedies happened to the Jewish people on the 17 of Tammuz:

1. In Biblical times, Moses descended from Mount Sinai and upon seeing the Jews worshipping the Golden Calf, he broke the first set of tablets that carried the Ten Commandments.

2. King Menashe, one of the worst sovereigns of the Kingdom of Yehuda, placed on that day an idol in the Holy Sanctuary of the Temple, around the year 700 BCE.

3. In the time of the First Temple, on the 17th of Tamuz, 587 BCE, the Kohanim (priests) stopped offering the daily sacrifices due to the shortage of sheep during the siege of the city by the Babylonian army.

4. One year later, 586 BCE the walls of Yerushalaim were breached after many months of siege by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces. Three weeks after the breach of the wall, the Bet haMikdash was destroyed on the 9th of Ab.

5. Around the year 50 of the Common Era, Apostomus, a Roman captain, seized a Torah scroll and with abusive and mocking language, burned it in public.

The fast ends at 8:54PM (NY Time)

Due to the current hot weather in NY, people should take extra precautions to avoid dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration are: vomiting, feeling very nauseated or very weak or light headed, despite lying down.

Click HERE for more information about the fast, who is exempted, etc.

Project Ta'amim (le'ilui nishmat Matatiah bar Israel)

Learn to read Megilat Ekha, Sephardic -Yerushalmi.

Click HERE to download the audio file.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Fast of 17 of Tamuz

Today is the 16 of Tamuz, 5771

Tomorrow Tuesday July 19th is a fast day, shiba'asar betamuz (Tamuz 17th).

The fast begins at 4:12 AM and ends at 8.54 PM.

On the 17 of Tamuz there are only two prohibitions: eating and drinking.

NO additional limitations apply, such as the prohibition of washing the body, wearing leather shoes, working, driving, etc.

Who is exempted from fasting?

Minors: boys under 13 and girls under 12 years old are completely exempted from fasting.

Nursing women: According to the Sephardic Minhag, after giving birth, a woman is exempted from fasting for 24 months, even if they are not actually nursing their baby.

Pregnant women, especially after the first 3 months, are exempted from fasting.

A person who is sick, with flu or fever or a chronic disease, for example, diabetes, is exempt from fasting.

Elders should consult with their physicians if the fast might affect their health. If it will, they are exempted (and in some cases, prohibited) from fasting.

All other healthy people should fast and remember the tragedies that fell onto the Jewish people in this day.

Our custom is to authorize to wash one's mouth or brush the teeth in this Ta'anit, provided one will be careful to lower his head avoiding swallowing water unintentionally.

Tomorrow, B'H, I'll explain why we fast on this day.

There are no words, only tears
In memory of Leiby Kletzky, by Rabbi Benjamin Blech