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ב"ה
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Shabbat, July 17, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Nine Days
Jewish History

The Spies dispatched 40 days earlier by Moses to tour the Promised Land return to Israel's encampment in the desert, bearing a huge cluster of grapes and other lush fruits. But even as they praise the land's fertility, they terrify the people with tales of mighty giant warriors dwelling there and assert that the land is unconquerable.

Links:
Generation Gap
The Spies

Fighting breaks out inside the besieged city of Jerusalem between Jewish factions divided on the question of whether or not to fight the Roman armies encircling the city from without. One group sets fire to the city's considerable food stores, consigning its population to starvation until the fall of Jerusalem three years later.

Laws and Customs

The Shabbat before the Ninth of Av is called Shabbat Chazon ("Shabbat of Vision") after the opening words of the day's reading from the prophets ("haftara"), which is the third of the series of readings known as "The Three of Rebuke." On this Shabbat, say the Chassidic masters, we are granted a vision of the Third Temple; we may not see it with our physical eyes, but our souls see it, and are empowered to break free of our present state of galut (exile and spiritual displacement) and bring about the Redemption and the rebuilding of the Temple.

Links:
The Holy Temple: an Anthology
Shabbat of Vision
About the "Three of Rebuke"
http://www.thethreeweeks.com

The mournful paragraph of Tzidkatecha Tzedek is omitted from the afternoon prayers.

The fast of Tishah B'Av begins this evening at sunset.

Some of the fast's mourning practices--such as refraining from Torah study other than texts related to the events and nature of the fast day--are observed beginning from midday today.

Finish eating by sunset. After nightfall say, "Blessed is He who distinguishes between the holy and the mundane." No Havdalah tonight, but light a candle and recite the fire blessing. Havdalah is recited after the fast (omitting the candle and incense blessings).

"Eichah"--the Book of Lamentations--is read tonight in the synagogue after evening prayers.

See "Laws and Customs" for tomorrow, Av 9, for the particular obervances of the fast day.

Links:
Mitzvah Minute: Tisha b'Av
Laws of Tishah B'Av

During the “Nine Days" from Av 1st to the Ninth of Av, we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple. We abstain from meat and wine, music, haircutting, bathing for pleasure, and other joyous (and dangerous) activities. (The particular mourning customs vary from community to community, so consult a competent halachic authority for details.)

Consumption of meat and wine is permitted on Shabbat, or at a seudat mitzvah (obligatory festive meal celebrating the fulfillment of certain mitzvot) such as a brit (circumcision), or a siyum celebrating the completion of a course of Torah study (i.e., a complete Talmudic tractate). The Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory initiated the custom of conducting or participating in a siyum on each of the Nine Days (even if one does not avail oneself of the dispensation to eat meat).

Citing the verse "Zion shall be redeemed with mishpat [Torah] and its returnees with tzedakah," (Isaiah 1:27) the Rebbe urged that we increase in Torah study (particularly the study of the laws of the Holy Temple) and charity during this period.

Links:
Nine Days laws and customs
Daily live siyum broadcasts
Learn about the Holy Temple in Jerusalem

Daily Thought

On Shavuot, we celebrate the giving of the Torah. We read from it, study it, and celebrate with a festive meal.

On Simchat Torah, we celebrate the second set of tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain on Yom Kippur. We take out every Torah scroll from its place, hug and kiss each one, sing its praises, and dance with it late into the night—and the next day as well—even taking the celebration out onto the street.

Why are the second tablets so precious to us that we celebrate so much more on this day than on the day we heard G-d Himself at Mount Sinai?

Because they represent an unbreakable bond. That even if we make a golden calf and worship it, nevertheless, we will not be able to tear ourselves away from the G-d of Israel and His Torah. And neither will He tear Himself away from us.

Eventually, no matter how far they may have traveled, every Jewish soul will return home.