Rabbi's Message and Shabbat Links

Yesterday was the 17th of Tammuz, a minor fast day on the Jewish calendar. This begins a period known as the "Three Weeks," which conclude with another fast day, Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av). The Three Weeks commemorate the events of 70 C.E., when Jerusalem was invaded by the Roman Empire. Tradition teaches that on the 17th of Tammuz, the Romans breached the city wall, and three weeks later the Temple was destroyed on Tisha B'Av.

Some Jews observe the Three Weeks as a period of mourning—haircuts, weddings, listening to music, and saying ​​​​​​​Shehecheyanu (the blessing for special moments) are forbidden.


But there is an exception: Shabbat. Even during the Three Weeks, one is permitted to sing, dance, and say Shehecheyanu on Shabbat.


Most Reform Jews do not observe the restrictions of the Three Weeks. But this year we are keenly aware of living a life that is restricted, constrained. We have imposed these restrictions on ourselves and our families not to commemorate the past, but to honor health and life and to safeguard the future.


Sadly, we cannot lift these restrictions for Shabbat. But we can take a cue from tradition and make a special effort to listen to music, to sing and dance, and even to experience or eat something new (and say Shehecheyanu)!


The Three Weeks remind us that in periods of distress, it is especially powerful to use intention and effort to make Shabbat a different, sweet, and holy day.


May you and your loved ones be blessed with a Sabbath of joy, rest, and peace.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Noah

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