"The Three Weeks", between the fast day of the 17th of the month of Tamuz and the fast day of the 9th of the month of Av, mark a period of mourning for the two Holy Temples which were destroyed during this time period. Prohibitions against weddings, haircuts, or purchases of new clothes are among the restrictions in force at this time. In addition to the traditional mourning practices during these weeks, it is a Chasidic custom to study the laws of the building and maintaining of the Temple, the Third Temple that will replace the two fallen ones in the time of Mashiach, may it be very soon. It helps us to understand better what we are lacking and gives us focus for the rectification to come.

It is also desirable to look for and accentuate the positive elements at this time….

The mourning and the restrictions intensify when the month of Av arrives. Eating meat, bathing for pleasure and wearing fresh laundered clothes also become forbidden (customs may vary according to community and locale). The prohibitions continue through the 9th of Av, the period known as the "Nine Days".

"When Av arrives, we decrease in joy," states the well-known Talmudic dictum.

However, Chasidim interpret with an interesting emphasis: "When Av arrives, we decrease…" - How? "…in joy!" So since consumption of meat and wine is permitted at an obligatory festive meal celebrating the fulfillment of a mitzvah, such as a Brit Mila (circumcision ceremony), or a "Siyum", for the completion of a complete Talmudic tractate, the Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated the custom of conducting or participating in a Siyum on as many of the Nine Days as possible (even if one does not avail oneself of the dispensation to eat meat), in order to relieve the sadness of these days, and to transform mourning to joy.

The two most famous Kabbalists of Safed, Rabbi Moshe Cordevero (known by the acronym, the "Ramak") and Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (the "Ari") passed away during this period. The yahrzeit rites for the Ramak (on the 23rd of Tamuz) and the Ari (on the 5th of Av) are yet another opportunity for "converting darkness to light".

In conclusion: it is both important and necessary to participate in fast days and their appropriate restrictions, and to mourn for the Temples during these three weeks. But for Kabbalists, Chasidim and the mystically inclined, it is also desirable to look for and accentuate the positive elements at this time.

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