Today is the fast day of the 17th of Tammuz, the beginning of a Jewish holiday called “The Three Weeks.” To make a long story short, in most cases if something bad was meant to happen to the Jewish people, it would happen during these three weeks, culminating in Tisha B’Av, a major fast day in which we mourn the destruction of the Temple.
I had a coworker a few weeks ago who is fascinated by Orthodox Judaism and all our holidays rather perplexed when he asked me what our next holiday was and when it would be. In Judaism, holidays are holy days and not every holy day is a celebratory one because life is not always all sunshine and rainbows. We need times also to be able to let out our sadness together as a community so that we can release it and enjoy the happy times as well. The Three Weeks is one of those times and during it, we mourn but we also focus on acts of “ahavas Yisroel” which loosely translated means “love of your fellow Jew.”
It’s said that the destruction of the Temple was a result of Jews forgetting to treat each other with kindness and instead being cruel to each other, but it’s also said that if enough Jews did acts of kindness, Moshiach (the Messiah) would surely come and every day of mourning would be turned into a celebration. The Three Weeks are a good time to refocus efforts on how we treat each other.
An organization I support, which teaches classes for women and has retreats for single mothers, women of all ages, and a camp for girls who maybe might not feel like they fit in at regular Jewish camps is running a fundraiser right now to try to both raise money for the wonderful work they do and also encourage Ahavas Yisroel. You nominate women who you’d like to see be able to treat themselves to a really fancy sheitel (wig for hair covering). This would be a sheitel that they might not buy themselves, a luxury. For every 3 women you nominate, you also get your name added to the raffle for the sheitel. The proceeds go to Bais Chana and all the work that they do to uplift and inspire women and girls. It also allows you to send messages to the women you nominate, letting them know how much you appreciate all they do!
Please consider supporting this and other Jewish organizations as well as doing your own acts of chesed (kindness) and Ahavas Yisroel during the Three Weeks. I like to think of it as a way to jump start my teshuva (repentance) for the High Holiday season to come!