Skip to main content

Thoughts on the Nine Days

NOTE:  To learn more about Shiva Asar b’Tammuz (the 17th of Tammuz), Tisha b’Av or the Three Weeks, please see my Tisha b’Av FAQ!  I don’t usually do “Judaism 101”, but I get a lot of questions in real life and I wrote the FAQ last year when I had nothing else to do with my time waiting for the fast to end…

“Holy days [=holidays] used to be filled with activity and heavy with significance; they have been replaced by vacations, literally ‘empty’ times.” (Margaret Visser, The Way We Are, p. 80)

This is still the distinction between summertime… and a Jewish summer.  Because the Jewish summer, if you live it right, is not just an empty time between school sessions; it’s full – dreadfully full – of significant moments that you can’t help tripping over.  Moments you can’t help dreading, but I guess that’s the point.  Stuff you take for granted, usually, like:

Music:  a secular summer is full of music – it’s the soundtrack of your whole fun life, right?  Not so, the Jewish one, when we forego REAL music (forget a capella for a second) for three whole weeks.  I really miss it, and it makes every car drive seem empty and haunted.  Curious George Flies a Kite just isn’t as fun to listen to as you tootle around town.

Swimming:  who decides in the middle of summer not to swim, or even take a proper shower???  This is when you need it most, especially (I imagine) in Israel where things heat up even more than here (though I contend that humidity is always the worst of it).

Theatre and dance:  at a time of year when culture is FREE?  We’re Jews; don’t we love free stuff?  What’s not Jewish about Shakespeare in the Park, or an outdoor dusk dance celebration?  But no, for the prime three weeks, we must miss out.

Meat:  while not vegetarian, we’re some of the least meat-centric Jews in this city.  But when the weather is hot, we love to haul out the grill and toss something recently alive onto the flames, hoping something edible emerges on the other side.

A secular summer is all about baring as much as possible, having fun, doing nothing, not caring much.  Fitting in all the vacation possible during the “empty” time between work, school and other important tasks. 

A Jewish summer, in contrast, is full of awful, important tasks… ideally.

In reality, we grit our teeth and get through it.  Get through the icky feeling of not-quite-fresh clothes (though in truth we don’t wear all our clean clothes around before Rosh Chodesh, like some do, so some of the clothes are fresh – at first).  Get through the two fast days.  Get through the perception that we could be somewhere fun, doing something cultural and exciting.  Drive around in silence, not liking it, but getting through it.

Yom Kippur is different.  It’s short, it’s sweet:  I jump in with both feet knowing it’s only 25 hours.  It’s not a time for mourning, just a bit of physical discomfort.  I can live with it and I can even embrace it, and come out dancing on the other side.

Even sefirah (sefirat ha-omer, between Pesach and Lag b’Omer) is different.  It’s 33 days, but 8 of those are Yom Tov, so it’s really only 25 days.  That’s more than three weeks, but it never feels as terribly oppressive as these Three Weeks do.  Maybe because sefirah comes at a BUSY time of year, whereas in summer, there is nothing to do, it seems, but sit around and feel oppressed by the heat, the dirt, the bugs.

Which I do – I feel oppressed.  Which, I guess, is kind of the point.

p.s.  Margaret Visser is one of my go-to authors if I’m ever bored, and I have a couple of her books just sitting around for times when I have nothing else on the go.  Incredibly fun insights into the way we are.  Hence the title of this book.  She’s also a great culinary historian and all-around fun read if you’re into light social commentary.


Popular posts from this blog

לימודי קודש/Limudei Kodesh Copywork & Activity Printables

Welcome to my Limudei Kodesh / Jewish Studies copywork and activity printables page.  As of June 2013, I am slowly but surely moving all my printables over to 4shared because Google Docs / Drive is just too flaky for me. What you’ll find here: Weekly Parsha Copywork More Parsha Activities More Chumash / Tanach Activities Yom Tov Copywork & Activities Tefillah Copywork Pirkei Avos / Pirkei Avot Jewish Preschool Resources Other printables! For General Studies printables and activities, including Hebrew-English science resources and more, click here . For Miscellaneous homeschool helps and printables, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you just want to say Thank You, here’s a

Hebrew/ עברית & English General Studies Printables

For Jewish Studies, including weekly parsha resources and copywork, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you enjoy these resources, please consider buying my weekly parsha book, The Family Torah :  the story of the Torah, written to be read aloud – or any of my other wonderful Jewish books for kids and families . English Worksheets & Printables: (For Hebrew, click here ) Science :  Plants, Animals, Human Body Math   Ambleside :  Composers, Artists History Geography Language & Literature     Science General Poems for Elemental Science .  Original Poems written by ME, because the ones that came with Elemental Science were so awful.  Three pages are included:  one page with two po

What do we tell our kids about Chabad and “Yechi”?

If I start by saying I really like Chabad, and adore the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, z"l, well... maybe you already know where I'm headed. Naomi Rivka has been asking lately what I think about Chabad.  She asks, in part, because she already knows how I feel.  She already knows I’m bothered, though to her, it’s mostly about “liking” and “not liking.”  I wish things were that simple. Our little neighbourhood in Israel has a significant Chabad presence, and Chabad conducts fairly significant outreach within the community.  Which sounds nice until you realize that this is a religious neighbourhood, closed on Shabbos, where some huge percentage of people are shomer mitzvos.  Sure, it’s mostly religious Zionist, and there are a range of observances, for sure, but we’re pretty much all religious here in some way or another. So at that point, this isn’t outreach but inreach .  Convincing people who are religious to be… what? A lot of Chabad’s efforts here are focused on kids, including a