Avoid­ing Dan­ger Dur­ing the Three Weeks

The Jewish Voice - - JEWISH FEATURES - (OU.COM)

The three weeks be­tween the sev­en­teenth of Tam­muz and Tish’a b’Av, be­tween the an­niver­sary of the breach of the wall of Yerusha­layim and the an­niver­sary of the de­struc­tion of the Mik­dash, are a pe­riod of mourn­ing. But this time is also con­sid­ered a pe­riod of spe­cial dan­ger: “Cau­tion is needed from the 17th of Tam­muz un­til Tish’a b’Av not to walk alone from four hours to nine hours; and stu­dents should not be struck dur­ing these days.”

(Shulchan Arukh Orach Chaim 551:18. The pro­hi­bi­tion ap­plies even to the nor­mally per­mis­si­ble pun­ish­ment, which is not a painful spank­ing but rather a light blow with a strap – Yoreh Deah 245.)

The source for this ha­lacha is a widespread Midrash which ex­plains that “ketev meriri”, a kind of dan­ger­ous wind or spirit re­ferred to in the song of Haaz­inu (De­varim 32:24), pre­vails es­pe­cially from the sev­en­teenth of Tam­muz un­til Tish’a b’Av. (Bamid­bar Rabba and Tanchuma Naso, on Bamid- bar 7:1; Eicha Rabba; and else­where.)

The gemara in Pe­sachim also talks about the “ketev”; there it states that this men­ace def­i­nitely pre­vails from the first of Tam­muz un­til the six­teenth, and doubt­fully pre­vails af­ter­wards (Pe­sachim 111b). Based on this source, the Beur Ha­lacha states that log­i­cally even greater care is re­quired be­fore the three weeks. (Beur Ha­lacha 551, cit­ing Pitchei Olam.) But we should also strive to un­der­stand the view of the other au­thor­i­ties who do not men­tion this strin­gency.

One res­o­lu­tion of the prob­lem is found in the Yalkut Shi­moni on Haaz­inu, which ex­plic­itly states that there are two “ketev” spir­its. One pre­vails from the first to the six­teenth of Tam­muz, while the sec­ond, the one called “meriri”, pre­vails dur­ing the Three Weeks. But an­other pos­si­bil­ity is to consider that it is pre­cisely the “doubt­ful” preva­lence which is dan­ger­ous.

For ex­am­in­ing the var­i­ous sources re­gard­ing this spirit, we find that its dis­tin­guish­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic is doubt:

(a) The Yalkut Shi­moni states that this spirit is found nei­ther in sun nor in shadow, but rather “in the shadow next to sun­light”.

(b) The gemara in Pe­sachim ex­plains that it is par­tic­u­larly found “in the shadow of a chatzva which is not an ama high”. The chatzva is a hedge which was usu­ally used to de­mar­cate a bor­der; a trun­cated chatzva in­di­cates a bor­der which is not clearly in­di­cated.

(c) In Te­hillim we also find a ref­er­ence to the ketev; there we find that “He who sits in the pro­tec­tion of the Most High, who dwells in the shadow of the Almighty; who says, HaShem is my pro­tec­tion and my fortress, in G-d I place my trust”, this in­di­vid­ual will not fear from the ketev that pre­vails in mid­day. (Te­hillim 91.)

Some­one of strong faith, who does not doubt, is safe from the ketev.

This idea con­nects with the mourn­ing as­pect of the three weeks. The mourn­ing for the Mik­dash does not be­gin from the an­niver­sary of the de­struc­tion – on the con­trary, that is when it ends. Rather, it co­in­cides with the ter­ri­fy­ing pe­riod of un­cer­tainty when Yerusha­layim was be­ing at­tacked but be­fore the de­struc­tion was com­pleted.

This char­ac­ter­is­tic of doubt and un­cer­tainty is char­ac­ter­is­tic of all mourn­ing. What in­deed is mourn­ing but a pe­riod “be­tween sun and shadow”, be­tween the time when are lives are bright­ened by a loved one and the time when we are fi­nally rec­on­ciled to their pass­ing.

The three weeks, the time when we re­call the ter­ri­ble tragedies which con­stantly be­set the Jew­ish peo­ple, carry with them the dan­ger of doubt, of weak­ened faith. This weak­ness of faith is not only a spir­i­tual dan­ger but also a bod­ily one, since HaShem es­pe­cially watches over those who place their whole­hearted faith in Him. Of course our main goal is to strengthen our faith, to place our full trust in G-d as we learn in Te­hillim. At the same time, we need to take pre­cau­tions, alert to the fact that this time of year car­ries a spe­cial dan­ger of the plague of doubt.

The Tanchuma on Naso which also dis­cusses the ketev states, “On the day the Mishkan was erected, all of the dan­ger­ous spir­its were elim­i­nated”. When the Tem­ple will be speed­ily re­built, all our doubts will be erased and we will re­turn to the full pro­tec­tion of the Almighty.

Cau­tion is needed from the 17th of Tam­muz un­til Tish’a b’Av not to walk alone from four hours to nine hours; and stu­dents should not be struck dur­ing these days.” A kind of dan­ger­ous wind or spirit re­ferred to in the song of Haaz­inu (De­varim 32:24), pre­vails es­pe­cially from the sev­en­teenth of Tam­muz un­til Tish’a b’Av

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.