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What Are the Three Weeks?

What Are the Three Weeks?


The Three Weeks is an annual mourning period that falls out in the summer. This is when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and our launch into a still-ongoing exile.

The period begins on the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, a fast day that marks the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 CE.

It reaches its climax and concludes with the fast of the 9th of Av, the date when both Holy Temples were set aflame. This is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, and it is also the date that many other tragedies befell our people.


There are various mourning-related customs and observances that are followed for the entire three-week period (until midday of the 10th of the Hebrew month of Av, or—if that date falls on Friday—the morning of that day). We do not cut our hair, purchase new clothes, or listen to music. No weddings are held.

17 Tammuz is a fast day, on which we refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to nightfall.

Those who mourn the destruction of Jerusalem will merit seeing it rebuilt with the coming of MoshiachThe final Nine Days of the Three Weeks are a time of intensified mourning. Starting on the first of Av, we refrain from eating meat or drinking wine, and from wearing freshly laundered clothes.

9 Av is a more stringent fast than 17 Tammuz. It begins at sunset of the previous evening, when we gather in the synagogue to read the Book of Lamentations. Besides fasting, we abstain from additional pleasures: washing, applying lotions or creams, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Until midday, we sit on the floor or on low stools.

There is more to the Three Weeks than fasting and lamentation. Our sages tell us that those who mourn the destruction of Jerusalem will merit seeing it rebuilt with the coming of Moshiach. May that day come soon, and then all the mournful dates on the calendar will be transformed into days of tremendous joy and happiness.

Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Buddy van Zutphen Nijmegen, the Netherlands July 13, 2017

Thanks for the article. May I ask a question? During the observed 3 weeks, how should one act on sabbath, since that is a day of enjoyment?
Many thanks for the answer. Reply

Marcus Gundlach Esslingen am Neckar July 13, 2017

I always thought about the following: What was first - the first reason for destruction of the Bet haMikdasch? The Loshon Hara (gossip) within the Jewish people, as a result of Un-united in believing and taking care or each other. The destruction was never the wanting of haSchem. There is a bad need for this: The rebuilding of a temple for haSchem in all our hearts at first, and a inner, spiritual feeling for the "One", this reached for a much more pleasing for the real temple, than the wanting for it. I think, we all should go forward - not standing - in real. Not only thinking about good things, also doing good things. Together. So for all of us this time should not to be a sad time. It is the time to reflect the past and going to a better future, who will arrive soon. Reply

Anonymous July 2, 2017

Thank Eliezer, but these fruits are not available all year..... So how soon before should I eat them to count as this season? I ate some last week and two weeks ago, given the closeness of the three weeks, does that date count? And in general, how do I know for myself for next time? Does Jewish law require 'this season' to meet the season requirements of wherever you are right now (in which case, the summer here started june 21st on the secular calendar, or does Judaism have its own we should follow- like how Shabout is supposed to mark summer in Israel, do we follow that worldwide for purposes like following mitzvahs that go by season?) Reply

Eli B July 12, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I think I've heard that we only make a shehechianu if we haven't had it in (at least) a full year, and I'm assuming that goes by the jewish calendar. Reply

Anonymous July 2, 2017

Quick question of which I am not sure about: Am I allowed to practice an instrument for lessons which I take during the three weeks and nine days? Thank you! Reply

Mendel Adelman July 6, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Great question.

You really should speak to your rav about it. There is no clear answer.

Many authorities permit it if you will lose your skill over that period if you don't practice. Then it will be considered a financial loss.

However, you must make sure that you are not doing it for pleasure. That means playing sadder songs, if possible.

See Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 16:19. Kaf Hachayim 551:41 who writes that preferably it should not be done, and even if one is lenient it should only be sad songs. Reply

Anonymous June 18, 2017

Eating new fruit Eating new fruit we haven't eaten yet this season is something that confuses me a little bit...when does the Jewish Calendar summer season officially start? If I ate fruits an x amount of time before, 1 week, 2 weeks, a month ago, how do I know what counts as this season Jewishly? Should we eat all our favourite fruits once, right before the three weeks just in case...? Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for June 20, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Re: Eating new fruit Shecheyanu is only recited on fruit that is not available all year, so when it does become available, the first time you eat it there is a measure of joy involved. Many fruits today are available year round and therefore do not get a shehecheyanu. Reply

Chaia Ny August 13, 2016

No more suffering I am a Jew . My Dan is of Israeli ancestors from the beginning of time! My family nearly wiped off the face of the earth. It's disturbing to me that we keep having to suffer. We beat the odds. Hitler didn't win! The Pharos didn't win! The Romans did t win! We have stood up , grown strong , have our own state and defeated our enemies ! I'm tired of having to weep and suffer and feel sad because I'm a Jew! I want to celebrate the fact I'm Jewish ! I'm proud and strong and not going to go along with these man made days of misery ! G-D wouldn't ask us to do what man has made us do! Yom Kippur yes! Fast , but there are so many suffering days it's ridiculous! We have to start laughing and having wine with loved ones and stop suffering ! The past is the past and the future is tomorrow! Let's stop dwelling on the worst and concentrating on our future! Reply

Joseph Stahl June 15, 2017
in response to Chaia:

Do we suffer during these times as a remembrance? Are we reaching to stay connected to the Jews who lived before us? Are we celebrating the victory after the suffering and is the Spirit of our celebration a light to those before us during that suffering and those after us as well? I am always seeking to understand. Shalom! Reply

Emma July 2, 2017
in response to Chaia:

What is so unbearable about mourning in Judaism?? first we only mourn about 54 days out of 365 when you can rejoice as much as you want for being a jew, and those three weeks are mourning over the destruction of our holy temple, at this moment at this time you and i and all who believe could have been in Israel right now offering to our G-D but we have been deprived from something so great like that because of our sins, it is a whole level of purity that was taken away from us, I don't know about you but that indeed is worth mourning over, and even that mourning that we speak of is not so strict like Shiva so we actually can still work and enjoy some time with our family and friends with limits, it is not even that sever as u make it sound, May G-D always take pity on us and on our mourning and rebuild the Holy Temple once more. Reply

Pat W Grand Rapids July 15, 2017
in response to Chaia:

We have a future, because of the misery of the past. On Hanukkah we give gelt, foil gold covered chocolate coins.So that we remember that freedom is sweet, but costly. We will never know what it took for us to win over Pharoah.What it took to survive Hitler.What it took to overcome the Romans.. Those victories took many lives. What's a few days of "misery" to remember those human beings that sacrificed so much. Reply

Simcha Bart for June 16, 2017
in response to Joseph Stahl:

We mark these days because that will inspire us to do everything in our power to beseech G-d to return us to The Land of Israel and rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem with coming of our Righteous Messiah.

Reply Staff via August 8, 2016

To Anonymous In 2016 the Three Weeks end after nightfall on August 14. Reply

Anonymous August 7, 2016

When are the three weeks over? When do the three weeks end? Today's date is August 7, 2016 Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for July 25, 2016

Re: Purchasing for work? Yes, there is no problem with purchasing software for work during the Three Weeks. Reply Staff via July 24, 2016

To David The Three Weeks officially start today, Sunday the 24th of July 2016. Reply Staff via July 24, 2016

To David Yes you put on Tefillin. Reply Staff via July 24, 2016

To Samuel When the 17 of Tammuz falls on Shabbat, as is the case this year, the fast is postponed to Sunday and we observe Shabbat regularly. The only fast day which does not get postponed is Yom Kippur, a day which is called Shabbat Shabbaton, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, in the Torah. Reply

David WOODMERE July 24, 2016

When did the three weeks start leading to Tisha b Av this calendar year 2016 Reply

Anonymous July 24, 2016

Purchasing for work? Is buying a software for a job allowed during these three weeks? Reply

david adams Patchogue July 24, 2016

Do I put on tefillin this day the 17 Reply

Samuel July 24, 2016

Shabbat meals Thank you very much for this article. I do have a question that I could not make out from this article: what if the 17th of Tammuz is on a shabbat? Do you still make kiddush and eat 3 meals? Reply

Anonymous Airmont July 24, 2015

Yes we don't wear clothes with stains. The custom is to "try" the clothes on before the nine days. When that isn't possible (the nine days already started) it can be worn on shabbos (you have to do this in a way that isn't preparing) or dropped on the floor. Reply

Ephraim July 8, 2015

Thanks for your reply, but I am still not clear about clothes during the nine days. We are forbidden to wear clean clothes? I find is hard to believe we have to walk around smelling and with stains for nine days, that cannot be right. Please verify. We also have a limited amount of clothes, I do not have nine shirts or pants. Not sure what to do. Thank you. Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for July 8, 2015

Re: new shoes Yes, one is permitted to buy new shoes, especially if they are on sale, during the three weeks. Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for July 7, 2015

Re: Laundry during the Three Weeks One is permitted to do laundry during the three weeks. Even in the nine days when one is meant to refrain from doing laundry, one is permitted to wear freshly laundered undergarments. Additionally, with regards to purchasing new clothing, it is only significant clothing that brings some level of joy to the person that one should refrain from purchasing during the three weeks. Clothing such as undergarments and socks one is permitted to purchase during that time. Reply

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