The Three Weeks

The Three Weeks or Bein ha-Metzarim ( Hebrew: בין המצרים, "Between the Straits") (cf " dire straits") is a period of mourning commemorating the destruction of the first and second Jewish Temples. The Three Weeks start on the seventeenth day of the Jewish month of Tammuz — the fast of Shiva Asar B'Tammuz — and end on the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av — the fast of Tisha B'Av, which occurs exactly three weeks later. Both of these fasts commemorate events surrounding the destruction of the Jewish Temples and the subsequent exile of the Jews from the land of Israel. According to conventional chronology, the destruction of the first Temple, by Nebuchadnezzar II, occurred in 586 BCE, and the second, by the Romans, in 70 CE. Jewish chronology, however, traditionally places the first destruction at about 421 BCE. (See Missing years (Hebrew calendar) for more information.)


The mourning observances during the Three Weeks are divided into four levels, increasing in intensity: [1]

  1. From the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the end of Tammuz
  2. From Rosh Chodesh Av until the week in which Tisha B'Av falls
  3. The week in which Tisha B'Av falls until the Eighth of Av
  4. Tisha B'Av itself

Standard Ashkenazic custom, or minhag, restricts the extent to which one may take a haircut, shave or listen to music, though communities and individuals vary their levels of observance of these customs. No Jewish marriages or other major celebrations are allowed during the Three Weeks, since the joy of such an event would conflict with the expected mood of mourning during this time.

Many Orthodox Jews refrain from eating meat during the Nine Days from the first of the month of Av until midday of the day after the fast of Ninth of Av, based on the tradition that the Temple burned until that time.

Time of danger

The Three Weeks are considered historically a time of misfortune, since many tragedies and calamities which befell the Jewish people are attributed to this period. These tragedies include: the breaking of the Tablets of the Law by Moses, when he saw the people worshipping the golden calf; the burning of a Sefer Torah by Apostomus during the Second Temple era; the destruction of both Temples on Tisha B'Av; the expulsion of the Jews from Spain shortly before Tisha B'Av 1492; and the outbreak of World War I shortly before Tisha B'Av 1914, which overturned many Jewish communities.

As a result, some Jews are particularly careful to avoid all dangerous situations during the Three Weeks. These include: going to dangerous places, striking a child or student, undergoing a major operation that could be postponed until after Tisha B'Av, going on an airplane flight that could be postponed until after Tisha B'Av, and engaging in a court case with a non-Jew if it can be postponed until after Tisha B'Av. [1]

Other Languages
español: Ben Hametzarim
македонски: Тринеделница
русский: Трёхнеделье