[Image Source: M.t.lifshits]

The fast of the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, known as Shivah Asar B’Tammuz (the 4th month of the Jewish calendar year), marks the start of a three-week mourning period for the destruction of Jerusalem and the two Holy Temples. This year, Monday night will be the beginning of the 17th day of Tammuz and the fast will begin at sunrise on Tuesday morning.

Among other devastating events that occurred on this day, the fast of the 17th of Tammuz commemorates the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem, first by the Babylonians, in circa 422 BCE, and then by the Romans, in circa 69 CE, after a lengthy siege. (Three weeks after the breach during both periods, both Temple’s were destroyed, on the 9th of Av.)

During the 3 week period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, Jews take upon themselves a more lenient form of mourning*. During these 3 weeks of lesser mourning, many Jews refrain from:

  • Conducting weddings
  • Playing musical instruments or listening to live music
  • Getting a haircut or shaving. (Some communities permit haircuts and shaving until the week of of the 9th of Av (in other words, until the Saturday night before the fast)

According to our tradition, the first Temple, built by King Solomon, in Jerusalem existed and served the Jewish community for 410 years and the second Temple for 420 years. We look forward to the rebuilding of the 3rd Temple speedily in our days!

*Mourning for a parent is more severe and requires more limitations and restrictions for the mourner.