Monday, July 2, 2007

Three Weeks – Nine Days – One Purpose –

This week’s fast of Shivah Asar b’Tammuz signals the onset of the Three Weeks, a time to remember tragedy and exile, but also for personal reflection and rectification. Many ArtScroll volumes strengthen that spiritual and moral aspiration.

One of the earliest (1976), authored by Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz and Rabbi Nosson Scherman, is Megillas Eichah, with an anthologized commentary that elucidates Yirmiyahu Hanavi’s lamentations on the Churban. Subsequently (1992), ArtScroll published Tishah B’Av, which incorporates Tishah B’Av sources, a digest of the laws, the history of the period from Tanach and Chazal, and much inspirational commentary on the day. Many readers say this book helps them prepare not only for the Three Weeks, but for the month of Elul and the Yamim Noraim.

Tractate Gittin vol.2 (55b-58a), in the Schottenstein Edition, elucidates the passages detailing the tragedies of the Churban. On Tishah B’Av many learn the Book of the Iyov/Job. Last year (2006), ArtScroll published Rav Schwab on Iyov, in which Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l brilliantly illuminates the profound messages of this very difficult book of Jewish scripture.

For the Tishah B’Av service, ArtScroll offers a complete siddur, available in Ashkenaz and Sefard versions, which includes the Kinnos, with translation and commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer and Rabbi Avie Gold. This work makes it possible for everyone to understand the very difficult and very moving Kinnos.

To help children grasp the message of the Three Weeks, Yaffa Ganz created Tishah B’Av with Bina, Benny, and Chaggai Yonah. Engagingly and enjoyably, it teaches the major historical themes of the Three Weeks.

May this year bring the fulfillment of the prophecy that these days will be transformed from sadness to joy.