By Larry Gordon
HERE COME THE 9 DAYS
Okay, I agree, I have to write about something other than war in Israel, military strategy and international diplomatic maneuvering. And I agree, I have to not only do that for the reader but I have to do it for my own middle of the summer sanity as well.
So here we are at the start of the famous Three Weeks that I could never understand or reconcile why they were planted right in the middle of the usually warm and beautiful summer. I mean we are taught that G-d brought the Jews out of ancient Egypt thousands of years ago in spring time so that they could travel in good and comfortable weather. So what with all this fire, brimstone and destruction right in the middle of vacation and beautiful weather time?
Perhaps studying Pirkei Avos—The Ethics of The Fathers—was not enough to introduce some levity into much of the inherent frivolity that is identified with warm weather in general and summer time in particular. Hence, we have the imperative to mourn the destruction of our Holy Temples in Jerusalem along with the observance and commemoration of an assortment of tragic events that also coincidently took place in this part of our calendar year.
Still, no matter how one looks at it, summer is different. It frequently affords us an opportunity to slow down, take some more days off if possible, do things at a more deliberate and unhurried pace. The popular song lyrics of a few decades ago say, “Summertime and the living is easy.”
And then as the crowning endeavor and perhaps even the annual achievement of this time of year is the upcoming period of the Nine Days. For those not familiar—and I venture to guess that there are very few in that category—the 9 days are the period of more intensified mourning for the destruction of our Temples in Jerusalem all those years ago.
Today, however, those 9 days have taken on an almost exuberant and animated life and meaning of their own. Not to confuse the issue but the Nine Days are also part of the three weeks which began a few days ago with the observance of the 17th of Tamuz fast day. This whole period culminates as you know, with another major fast day on the 9th of Av this year on August 5th. Where is the numbers guy when you need him?
So strictly observed is this period of the year that my barber shop buddies close their stores for most of this period and go on vacation because amongst other things, as signs of mourning, we do not take haircuts. Sal, one of my occasional barbers here on Central Avenue in Lawrence goes away for more than two weeks during this period every year. I was in his chair the other day and he was telling me …read more
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