1. What are the most important dates in this period, and what is their significance?
This period historically includes the fast of Assarah BeTevet, the 10th of Tevet, when the Siege of Jerusalem began, Shiv'ah Assar BeTammuz; the 17th of Tammuz, when the city walls were breached; and the period of 3 weeks (Bein Hametzarim – Between the Straits), until the fall of Jerusalem, the Destruction of the two Jerusalem Temples, and Jewish national sovereignty, leading to Exile – the first time, to Babylon; the second – to a far greater Diaspora. Both Temple Destructions are mourned on the fast on Tisha B'Av, which was also the date of other tragic events in Jewish history.
During the Three Weeks, another landmark is Rosh Hodesh Av, the beginning of the month of Av – or Menahem Av [Consoling], as it was renamed by the Sages - representing the worst of the siege and the observance of deepest mourning customs. Another special point is the Shabbat before Tisha B'Av is known as Shabbat Hazon (Chazon; Vision or Prophecy), which is also Shabbat Devarim, with a pertinent Haftarah reading: Isaiah's Prophecy heralding the destruction. Historically, the dates of destruction vary slightly for both Temples, but only one day of fasting is observed on Tisha B'Av.
The period is closed the first Shabbat after Tisha B'Av (Shabbat Va'etchanan), known as Shabbat Nahamu (Consolation), with an related Haftarah reading.
It is a period of mourning in collective Jewish memory, and introspection on the Biblical Prophets' warnings that sin, wrongdoing to each other, and internecine hatred would lead to the destruction of Israel. The Destruction of the Jerusalem Temples, especially the Second Temple, changed the path of Jewish History and Peoplehood, dispersing the Jewish People among the nations to survive and rebuild, time and again, through cycles of persecution, relocation, and suffering, with respite and safe havens of a qualified nature. Nonetheless, the wisdom and learning of Jewish tradition was not only preserved, but also flourished in many countries, and has been bound in the collective memory.
It is appropriate to examine the messages and lessons of our history in the post-modern period, after Jewish national sovereignty was regained with the establishment of the State of Israel:
- The Rambam (Maimonides) stresses spiritual Redemption through Teshuvah (Repentance) in this period of solemnity, which concludes about 7 weeks before Rosh Hashanah (the New Year).
- Another side to this process is Tikkun Olam, improving the world: altruism for ethical and physical redemption of others. One important facet of Tikkun Olam is overcoming strife and hatred, bringing people together in harmony.
- As this period is during the summer vacation in the northern hemisphere, there are many opportunities for visiting Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, in a re-appraisal of Jewish national and spiritual life today.
2. Where can I find more basic information about the historical events related to Tisha B'Av and the Three Weeks?
If you like lists and charts, here are some ideas:
Rabbi Rigal http://www.rigal.freeserve.co.uk/jewish/other%20days/otherdays.htm
Chart for 4 Biblical [and post-Biblical] fasts brings connections between them.
Tragedies that coincided with Tisha B'Av
If you prefer narrative text:
The Kotel http://english.thekotel.org/library/article.asp?id=108
Brings events that happened on the 17th Tammuz.
Includes explanation of dates; for related historical references, see: Events.
History of Jewish Wars with the Romans, text and chart.
3. I'd like a shortlist of introductory websites with Halachot, traditions, and observances for Shiva Assar BeTammuz, the Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av.
The Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av in a nutshell are best presented by the following websites, which offer general background and approaches to observances. For more detailed resources, please go to Q4 and Q10.
Introductory file to Tisha B'Av and mourning practices, with extended links, plus Gregorian calendar dates for Tisha B'Av. Suitable for secondary schools, families and adults. General.
Introductory file to the Three Weeks, Nine Days and Tisha B'Av, with extended links for terms like kinot, Eicha. For adults, parents, high school students.
Lazer's Guide to the Jewish Year
http://homes.aol.com/lazera/ThreeWeeks.htm http://homes.aol.com/lazera/17Tamuz.html http://homes.aol.com/lazera/9av.html The Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av, including prohibitions, list of prayers and special readings.
Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster
3 files: Main Halachot of 3 weeks, fully sourced; lists Shabbat Torah readings; Tisha B'Av on Shabbat or Sunday – Halachot /Dinim. For adults, students.
Introductory article on the significance and observances of the Three Weeks and the Nine Days.
4. Which websites offer Tisha B'Av related enrichment and educational programming resources in Jewish values, as well as stories and ideas useful for summer camps?
Here are a variety of very different hands-on resources, depending on the setting, type of group, age, and levels of knowledge. None of these are in-depth content websites, so please also refer to Q10 for more resources with sources!
The Department for Jewish Zionist Education, Jewish Agency for Israel
Ninth of Av
Home page to original resources about planning curriculum for Tisha B'Av, background information on the 3 Weeks and Tisha B'Av, significance of Jerusalem, extensive Jerusalem-linked activities and resources.
Academy Board of Jewish Education, Sydney
Introduction to observances and Tefillah for fasts of 17th Tammuz, 9th Av [in detail for adults]; online puzzle games and lesson activities for elementary students; links to stories for use in Tisha B'Av lessons.
26 classroom resources and workpages for Tisha B'Av and the Three Weeks
Introductory article with textual, Mishnah and historical sources.
Introductory articles on mourning and collective memory; music. Range of age suitability: senior elementary, secondary schools and families, adults.
National Jewish Outreach Program
Crash Course in Jewish Holidays – 6 clear introductory files: background, observances, the events commemorated. Suitable for families, educators, junior high, review classes, history classes, summer camps.
Article on causeless hate and improving behaviour towards others. Suitable for teenagers.
Stories for 3 Weeks
Eicha – Lamentations – in dramatic format, subdivided as speaker and Greek chorus texts, in the personae of: Jeremiah, Bat Tzion, Jerusalemite women, children, the Nations. English.
Introductory articles to meaning and restrictions of the Three Weeks, Tisha B'Av; also, Shabbat Chazon. Targeted at parents, teachers, educators.
Addresses duality of period, namely: mourning / Rambam's emphasis on Teshuva - through manifestations in customs of mourning, Tefillah; with sourced commentary. Suitable for: teenagers, students, adults.
5-sections; Well-rounded, comprehensive feature with articles by a single author. Presents the overall period, the Fasts of 17 Tammuz and Tisha B'Av; The Nine Days; Jerusalem of Old; background and customs for each. Introductory to intermediate level, for educators and high school students upwards. Also: text index only (foot of page) offers access to large collections of related articles (introductory - advanced) and audio files (incl. Eichah - Lamentations).
5. Are there any discussion activity guides online for Tisha B'Av and the Three Weeks?
These are a follow-on to the educational resources, but more suited to older groups, students and adults.
For discussion: Issues, significances and perspectives, as viewed by Rabbis Soloveitchik, S.R. Hirsch, and others; linked references and related readings (text, poetry).
Hagshama Department, WZO
5 articles by different authors, relating to Tisha B'Av and its origins, mourning and loss in Jewish life and calendar, Jewish national tragedies, senseless hatred and anti-Hate laws, reflections on the day's modern significance - and the origins of Tu B'Av. Suitable for college age and adult education.
Discussion of Mishna Ta'anit 4:6 and the commemoration of tragedies that happened in the Three Weeks.
2 hour activity for mid-teens and students, using Eicha, modern literature, personalization, small group work.
6. What about a Powerpoint presentation on Tisha B'Av and the Three Weeks?
I only found one Powerpoint, but there are other visual galleries and images.
Guy Shachar http://www.guyshachar.com/pps_dl.htm#holidays
Tisha B'Av in Jerusalem: scenes from the Kotel Plaza, Old City [Hebrew text].
Temple Institute http://www.templeinstitute.org/gallery.htm
Collection of virtual models of Temple architecture, fitments, vessels, etc.
Reuven Weiser http://yucs.org/~rweiser/mik.html
Virtual models of Temple vessels, etc.
Dzeni Dzeni http://www.flickr.com/photos/nzdzeni/517481492/
Tisha B'Av emblem for discussion - questions from Aish Hatorah.
7. I'm looking for Haftarah readings for Shabbat Hazon, Tisha B'Av and Shabbat Nahamu and explanations on them.
The trepidation and anguish before and during Tisha B'Av are highlighted by the bracketing of the Haftarot for Shabbat Hazon and Shabbat Nahamu.
Shabbat Hazon [Chazon]
Jewish Agency for Israel, Education
Ohr Torah Stone
Beyond Teshuva http://www.beyondbt.com/?cat=69
Reflections on Tisha B'Av during the Second Lebanon War and themes of the Haftarot on Shabbat Hazon, Shabbat Nahamu.
8. I'm looking for Megillat Eichah (Lamentations) and Tisha B'Av readings - preferably a full recording or a cantillation guide, as well as explanatory material.
There's quite a wide range of resources about Eichah available for advance study, which can make the reading more meaningful, or for use during Tisha B'Av itself, when unrelated Torah study is not permitted.
Congregation B'nai Israel, NJ
Sheet music for Eichah trope, cantillation.
http://www.lidrosh.com/Default.aspx?tabid=57&vpRetTbId=51&vpCtId=29&vpPrId=295 Insights, historical context, themes of Eichah. Free mp3 streaming.
About the Haftarah reading on Tisha B'Av and Jeremiah's despair.
Eichah – Lamentations – in dramatic format, subdivided as speaker and Greek chorus texts, in the personae of: Jeremiah, Bat Tzion, Jerusalemite women, children, the Nations. English.
Tora 4 Us
Megillat Eichah with tools, version links, audio.
Union for Traditional Judaism (NJ)
English translations for Tisha B'Av Torah readings.
Eichah - Lamentations in 5 mp3 downloads, plus alternate version for Chapter 3. Melodies for Birkat Hahodesh Av and for Kabbalat Shabbat before Tisha B'Av.
YU Torah Online
Megillot/Eichah/Eichah1.mp3 (Rabbi Jeremy Wieder)
9. I need resources about the Kinot, to listen online and learn about them.
For the moment, there are more shiurim than recordings. As time goes on, this should diversify...
Orthodox Union – OU Radio
Rabbi Leff http://www.rabbileff.net/tishabavorder.htm
Free streamed or prepaid download/CD versions of shiurim on the Kinot.
Tremont Street Shul Wiki
Offers several didactic approaches to Kinot.
Young Israel of Passaic-Clifton
Scroll down for an introduction to: authors, traditions, themes, history of Kinot.
10. Where can I find more detailed resources on the Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av: history, texts, concepts, Halachah, observances?
There are some really extensive collections on major websites, designed for specific and general target populations, at different levels, including high level shiurim targeted at students and adults. Chabad and OU include resources for children.
49 features and articles under 6 headings (What, When & Why; Jewish Unity; Antisemitism & Suffering; Multimedia; The Holy Temple) ranging from observances to the philosophical and ethical, by different contributors, as well as: how to translate the importance of this period into one's life and returning to observance. Level: adult introductory through moderately advanced.
Bet El Yeshiva
23 Shiurim: Ethics, texts, History, Halachot, reflections on the Temple, Hassidut, Teshuva, Fasts – Word downloads. Suitable for students and adults, general and intermediate.
Articles under 2 headings (Insights & Essays; Need Info?) and textual Temple Tour with image replicas of utensils, plus further, in-depth study. Emphasis on spiritual messages and observances. Suitable for different levels of use in family and education: Insights - intermediate level for adults; History/Info articles - intermediate level for mid-teens, or as introductory adult material; NB: the accompanying stories to Info articles are for younger children.
7 articles by several authors, covering the Three Weeks, Ethics, Teshuva-Repentance, Land of Israel, Tisha B'Av, including the continuity from The 17th of Tammuz Fast through to Yom Kippur. College age upwards, intermediate.
Introduction plus three downloadable guides in pdf: Traditions and Practices; Mishnah Taanit study; Midrash study on Book of Lamentations. Intermediate and beyond, for college age upwards. Plus series from My Jewish Learning.
6 essays on Tisha B'Av and additional reading, covering foundations, messages and meanings, basic guide to observances. Targeted at adults, families, college age students.
Unity, Dispersion, the Temple, Eicha, Aaron, Destruction: 8 lectures for adults - 6 advanced; mp3 streaming, or fee-paying downloads.
Multiple entry levels to introduce or explore concepts and observances of the Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av - approx 15 full-length articles and knowledge quiz. Suitable for high school, students, adults.
22 articles under 4 headings (Mourning, Laws and Rituals, Poems and Riddles, Talmudic Insights); major emphasis on Tisha B'Av, its origins, ethical messages, philosophy, observances of the Nine Days and Tisha B'Av, sources. The Three Weeks are not developed as a theme. Targeted at college age and adults; introductory to intermediate.
http://www.ou.org/yerushalayim/threeweeks/resources.htm and http://www.ou.org/yerushalayim/tishabav/
Shivah Assar BeTammuz, The Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av. Approx 40 articles, 15 audio files (lectures, Lamentations) and 20 video lectures, with Kinot (Real One). Introduction to traditions, laws, history & chronology, observances, texts, ethics, Midrash, readings, abstracts for all the Kinot, overview of the Book of Lamentations, modern events. Suitability: Level varies between introductory to intermediate level, with ranges for students, adults and materials that can be used in schools or camps.
http://www.ou.org/videos/5763/threeweeks63/liveweb.htm Torah Dimensions.
70 Articles under 7 headings (Divrei Torah from Parshat Hashavua, 17th Tammuz, Three Weeks, Tisha B'Av, Tu B'Av, Other Classes). Interpretative resources about the questions and issues behind these dates, with some Midrash; classes and Divrei Torah are frontally didactic. All source texts given. Level of general materials: intermediate for young students and introductory for adults; level of Divrei Torah and classes: college/adult intermediate plus to very advanced (labelled: beginners to advanced!).
VBM (Virtual Bet Midrash)
18 articles in three sections (Journal; Halacha; Jewish Thought) about the meaning, messages, observances, history of the Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av, mourning, calendar setting. Suitable for intermediate plus level - college students and adults familiar with study, source text and Talmud, seeking insight. Translated from Hebrew lecture notes/ writings at Yeshivat Har Etzion.
YU Torah Online
Shiurim for advanced learners, adults.
11. Are there differences in observances for the Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av in different Jewish communities?
There are some differences in mourning observances, but essentially they are minor. Below are some interesting takes from different communities.
Chatham Memorial Synagogue, Kent, UK
The Syrian Sephardic Minhag
Midrash Ben Ish Hai
Ben Ish Hai customs; Al Naharot Bavel recording
Quick reference guide to laws and minhagim, with differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi customs.
Related: Jewish Path /Bnai Noach Institute
Introductory article, Tisha B'Av. Suitable for wider community.