The third verse in the opening chapter of Megillas Eichah,the Book of Lamentations, states: “Yehudah has gone into exile because of suffering and great servitude ... all her pursuers overtook her ‘between the straits’ (bein hametzarim).” Comment our Sages:1 “‘Bein HaMetzarim’ refers to the twenty-one days between Shivah Asar BeTammuz (the Seventeenth of Tammuz) and Tishah BeAv (the Ninth of Av).”

With regard to Bein HaMetzarim, it is stated in the Haftorah read on the first Shabbos of Bein HaMetzarim, that the Prophet Yirmeyahu “beheld a staff of almond-wood.” G‑d told Yirmeyahu, “You have observed well, for I hasten (‘shakeid’ — from the same root as shekeidim, almonds) to fulfill My words [regarding the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash].”2

Our Sages comment:3 “The growth of the almond takes twenty-one days from the time it blossoms to the time it ripens, corresponding to the twenty-one days between the Seventeenth of Tammuz when the walls of Jerusalem were breached, and the Ninth of Av when the Beis HaMikdash went up in flames.”

Although the emphasis here is on the time span of twenty-one days, it is nevertheless the accepted custom to refer to the period of time of Bein HaMetzarim as “the Three Weeks” and not “the Twenty-One Days.” In the Code of Law as well,4 Bein HaMetzarim is referred to as “the Three Weeks” and not “the Twenty-One Days.”

Since the allusion in the verse to this period of Bein HaMetzarim is that of “almond-wood” that ripens in “twenty-one days,” why do we refer to this time span as “the Three Weeks”?

All things in this world are truly good, as everything emanates from G‑d who is the “Essence of Goodness,” and “It is the nature of one who is good to act in a goodly manner.”5 It therefore follows that even those things that to human eyes seem to be the antithesis of goodness, are in fact truly good.

That is to say, not only is the intent of those matters that seem completely removed from the realm of goodness ultimately for a good purpose (while they themselves are not good), but in actuality the matters themselves are good. Thus the expression of our Sages,6 “This [seemingly untoward event], too, is for the good.” Merely, the good of these matters is concealed; with the passage of time, the concealed goodness will be revealed.

One should contemplate and utilize his faith in G‑d during times of “concealed goodness.” One should ponder that in reality, events and occurrences that seem to be not at all good must surely be good and kindly, emanating as they do from G‑d, the “Essence of Kindness.”

Proper contemplation and belief in G‑d’s total goodness and kindness serves as the appropriate vessel to “reveal” and “expose” the goodness found within these matters: revealed and palpable goodness is then achieved.7

The same is so regarding the time period of Bein HaMetzarim. On a revealed level this is indeed a mournful time for the Jewish people because of the unfortunate events that befell them during these days — the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the Beis HaMikdash, events that led to our present bitter state of exile.

Since, however, the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the subsequent exile emanates from the A-lmighty (notwithstanding the fact that our conduct also played a role),8 and He is the “Essence of Goodness,” surely then within these events there is actual goodness. It is merely that for the time being, the goodness therein is totally obscured and concealed, and will first be revealed in the Time to Come.

Once, however, the goodness inherent within these sad and tragic events is revealed, we will clearly see how destruction and exile are not only for the sake of an ultimate good — that through exile we attain the true and complete Redemption, a redemption that will not be followed by any other exiles9 — but also, that these events themselves were actually good.

So that at the very time10 the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, all those lofty matters that will be revealed during the coming Redemption were being accomplished, including the birth of Mashiach and the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash.

However, since the world as a whole, as well as the Jewish people, were incapable of receiving these lofty matters, they remained above; below, in this world, its revelation was in a manner of destruction and exile — similar to a dazzling light whose very brilliance causes the person to be temporarily blinded.11

It is our spiritual service during the time of exile that purifies and refines the world and ourselves, making it and us capable of receiving these lofty levels in a revealed manner of goodness, with the arrival of Mashiach and the building of the Third Beis HaMikdash.

The reason we refer to the twenty-one-day period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av as “the Three Weeks” rather than “the Twenty-One Days” will be understood accordingly:

The “Three Weeks” emphasizes the goodly and positiveaspect of Bein HaMetzarim, that of the construction of the Third Holy Temple. This was accomplished in the Heavens above at the very moment of the destruction of the [Second] Beis HaMikdash, and will be revealed here below as well with the speedy arrival of Mashiach.

Based on Sefer HaSichos 5748, Vol. II, pp. 539-541.