THREE WEEKS, the period between the 17th of *Tammuz and the Ninth of *Av inclusive. It is a time of mourning called in Hebrew bein ha-meẓarim ("between the straits," i.e., the two fasts), and commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.
The traditional mourning rites during these three weeks are: (1) Not to buy or wear new garments and to abstain from music and entertainment, as well as from bathing for pleasure or sport (except for immersion in a ritual bath, mikveh). (2) No new fruits of the season over which the She-Heḥeyanu blessing must be pronounced are eaten. (3) Abstention from shaving and from cutting of the hair. (4) No weddings are celebrated. (5) Some very pious Jews abstain also from the consumption of meat and from the drinking of wine, save on the Sabbath.
Generally, these rites are observed only from the first of Av onward (see Magen Avraham to Sh. Ar., OḤ 551:18). On the Sabbaths of the Three Weeks ("The Three Sabbaths of Affliction," Telata de-Furanuta), special *haftarot are read from Jeremiah 1:1–2:3; 2:4–3:4 and Isaiah 1:1–27, in which the prophets announce the impending punishment of Israel (see *Sabbaths, Special). Evil spirits were thought to be active during this period, particularly from the first of Av to the ninth. A person is, therefore, advised not to enter into litigation and come before
Eisenstein, Dinim, 38–39; H. Schauss, The Jewish Festivals (1938), 101–4; ET, 3 (1951), 116–21.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.