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What are The Three Weeks Leading up to Tisha B’Av?

The Three Weeks is a period of mourning that occurs in the summer every year leading up to Tisha B’Av. We mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and the exile of the Jews from Israel. Observing and relearning the details of these events helps us to recognize the weaknesses which brought about these tragic happenings. We do this through the process of “teshuva,” which means self-reflection with a commitment to become better. With “teshuva,” everyone has the power to turn tragedy into joy. The Talmud actually states that after the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, these days will be altered as weeks of happiness and celebration. 

History has a tendency to repeat itself, if we don’t learn from it. That’s why it’s so important to shed light and observe even the most tragic times. With that said, here are some observances and more information regarding Tisha B’Av that the team at JCHC has put together.  

What Happened on Tisha B’Av? 

On Tisha B’Av, five major tragedies occurred.  

  1. During the time of Moses (approx. 1312 BCE), the Jews accepted the malicious report of the 10 Spies. Immediately after, a decree was issued forbidding the 10 Spies from entering the Land of Israel. 
  2. The destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. At this time, approximately 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more were exiled. 
  3. The destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. Approximately two million Jews died and another one million were exiled. 
  4. In 135 CE, the city of Betar was conquered by the Romans. This was the Jews’ last stand against the Romans and over 100,000 Jews were killed. 
  5. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city and named Aelia Capitolina. The Romans declared that access into the city was forbidden to Jews.

Observances During The 3 Weeks and Tisha B’Av

There are many mourning-related customs and observances that are followed for the entire three-week period leading up to Tisha B’Av. Some examples are no haircuts, no new clothing purchases, no listening to music and no Jewish weddings are to be held during this time. 

The afternoon before Tisha B’Av, we are to eat a full meal to prepare for the fast. When the afternoon concludes, the Seudah Hamaf-seket is eaten. This is a meal that contains bread, water, and a hard-boiled egg only. The hard-boiled egg represents two major elements. The roundness of the egg reminds us of the precious circle of life. The second element is that the egg is the only food that becomes harder the more it is cooked – i.e. a true  symbol of the Jews’ ability to rise over the ashes, no matter what life throws our way. 

Jewish Learning at JCHC in Morris County, NJ

If you’d like to know more about Jewish culture, or about how we are observing the Three Weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av, please contact the team at JCHC today. At our Lester Senior Living community, we read the Torah, hold Maariv Services and even offer university level classes about Jewish history and culture. 

To learn more about the Jewish teachings offered at our assisted living community in Morris County, NJ, please visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org/assisted-living-morris-county-nj/

 

What Happens During Shavuot?

We know that Shavuot commemorates spring harvest and the giving of the Torah, but it helps to go over the finer details to get a better understanding of this Jewish holiday. Especially, since there are specific traditions that tie into the commemoration of Shavuot. The senior care team at the JCHC has compiled information about Shavuot that addresses what the holiday represents, when it occurs typically, and most importantly, how to celebrate! 

What is Shavuot? 

Shavuot, also known as the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major Jewish festivals that has major significance  both historically and agriculturally. (The other two festivals are Passover and Sukkot.) In the agricultural sense, Shavuot commemorates the time when the first fruits of spring were harvested and brought to the Temple, also known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits). Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, also referred to as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah). Another name for this holiday is Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day of the year. However, it’s important to note that Shavuot has no particular relation to the Christian holiday of Pentecost, which occurs 50 days afterwards.

When is Shavuot?

There is no set calendar date for Shavuot. The date changes each year since it is a counting from Passover. This is also due to the fact that the length of the months used to be variable, determined by observation. There are two new moons between Passover and Shavuot. Shavuot could occur on the 5th or 6th of Sivan. However, now that we have a mathematically determined calendar, and the months between Passover and Shavuot do not change length, Shavuot is always on the 6th of Sivan. 

How to Celebrate Shavuot

Known as a time of great anticipation, we count each of the days leading up to Shavuot. From the second day of Passover to the day before Shavuot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival. The counting honors the important connection between Passover and Shavuot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavuot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage. It is noteworthy that the holiday is called the time of the giving of the Torah, rather than receiving of the Torah. The sages point out that we are constantly in the process of receiving the Torah, that we receive it every day, but it was first given during the time of Shavuot.

Another customary way to celebrate is to gather and eat a dairy meal at least once during Shavuot. Why we do this is a little bit divided. Some feel it refers to the promise regarding the land of Israel, a land flowing with “milk and honey.” Others feel that dairy is only eaten due to Torah dietary laws. Either way, we enjoy getting together with family and friends to eat delicious food. We also celebrate Shavuot by going to synagogue and staying up all night to read the Book of Ruth.

Jewish Traditions at JCHC in New Jersey

If you’d like to know more about how we are commemorating Shavuot at the JCHC, or if you have any other questions regarding our assisted living services in NJ, please contact us today. We’d love to hear from you.