WHAT TO DO DURING THE THREE WEEKS

by Rabbi Zalman Melamed Arutz Sheva Israel National Radio
Broadcast on July 13, 1998 / Tammuz 19, 5758

In This Article:

1. For Many Generations...
2. The Light has Begun to Shine
3. Building the Land
4. WORKING TO CARRY OUT OUR PRAYERS
1. FOR MANY GENERATIONS...
We are now in the period of the Three Weeks, known as "Between the Straits," between the fast of the 17th of Tammuz and that of Tisha B'Av. These are days of mourning and remembrance of the destruction of the Land and of the Holy Temple. For many generations, we were not able to carry out concrete acts for the redemption of Israel. We were in exile, under the yoke of the nations, and there was nothing we could do to change the situation - except to pray, and to strengthen ourselves via the fulfillment of the Torah and its precepts. This was all we could do - to ask the Holy One to redeem us, in His mercy, and to wait expectantly for it to occur.

The content of the Three Weeks, therefore, came to be practices of mourning on the destruction, refraining from joyous occasions, the recital of Kinot (dirges), and turning inwards in prayer and supplication.

2. THE LIGHT HAS BEGUN TO SHINE
We have now merited, thank G-d, that the Master of the Universe, the G-d of Israel, has begun to shine His countenance upon us, and to remove - to some extent - the yoke of the nations from upon us. He has opened the gates of the Land of Israel for us, and we have merited that a considerable proportion of Jews have made aliyah - immigration - to the Land. G-d has removed the subjugation of the nations from the Land, and helped us establish a State, open to Jews from around the world.
3. BUILDING THE LAND
When we approach the days of Between the Straits, they are no longer only days of sadness and mourning, rendering us helpless in the face of our fate. We are now able to take concrete steps on behalf of Israel's redemption. True, we are still unable to build the Holy Temple, but it is within our power to gather together in the Land of Israel, and to settle it, and to build it, and to build Jerusalem. For this reason, the days of the Three Weeks must arouse us to act and to do all that we can for the Redemption. We must call upon those Jews who have not yet made aliyah to Israel - to do so! Specifically, we must address this call to those Jews who continue to mourn during this period, but do not come to live here.
4. WORKING TO CARRY OUT OUR PRAYERS
It is not sufficient to say during the daily prayers, "Please gather us together from the four corners of the earth to our Land," when it is possible to actually carry it out. It is not enough for you to cry over the destruction; you must work for the reconstruction. [Ed. note: Rabbi Avraham HaKohen Kook said that just as we do not rely on our recital of "May the Merciful grant us honorable livelihood," but we rather do all we can to ensure our standard of living, so too we need not rely solely on our prayers to return to the Land of Israel but should rather take concrete steps to come here.] We certainly all mourn the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the heart of our nation - yet it is this mourning that obligates us to do all that we can to hasten the Redemption. This is carried out by the building and settling of the Land of Israel, and of Jerusalem, and of course by carrying out the will of G-d.

The Maharal [R. Yehudah Loewy of Prague, 17th century] lists three characteristics of the Exile:

a. the expulsion from the Land of Israel;
b. the subjugation by the nations of the world;
c. the dispersion amongst the nations.
It is within our power to remedy all three of these, by gathering together in the Land of Israel, under Jewish rule. The very act of doing so brings about the glorification of G-d's Name, as R. Moshe Chaim Luzatto writes in Chapter 19 of his classic Mesillat Yesharim [Path of the Just]: "It is impossible for the glory of G-d to rise without the Redemption of Israel and without the increase of Israel's honor, for these two elements are truly interdependent."

These are the matters to which we should arouse ourselves during this Between the Straits period. May we merit speedily the complete Redemption. Shalom, shalom.


Rabbi Melamed, Chief Rabbi of Beit El, is the Dean of Beit El Yeshiva Center Institutions and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Arutz-7.
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