Three Weeks to Become Strong
On Thursday of this week occurs the fast day of the 17th day of Tammuz, the beginning of the three-week mourning period culminating with Tisha B’Av, the fast day of the 9th day of the month of Av.
Our Talmudic Sages tell us that five tragic events in Jewish history took place on this day. The one we relate to the most is the penetration of the walls of Jerusalem almost two millennia ago by the Roman legions who went on to destroy our Beit Hamikdash three weeks later.
The purpose of fasting on this day, explains Rambam, is to call our attention to the mistakes of our ancestors that brought upon them Heavenly punishment so that we will correct the very same mistakes we are making in our own day.
But even fasting on this day and seriously examining ourselves is not enough. Three weeks of denying ourselves some of the ordinary pleasures are required to really internalize the lesson of history.
It is our hope that these three weeks will be utilized by every Jew who earnestly mourns the absence of our Beit Hamikdash to do his own soul-searching, and that the collective effort of our people to return to our responsibilities as a Torah nation will secure Israel forever.