Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jewish Summertime

Over the past 2500 years, the Jewish calender has evolved. What started out as a generally happy annual calendar -- has slowly taken turns for the worse, as our people have faced tragedy after tragedy.

The Omer period of 49 days which was originally a very happy time, has been relegated to no listening to live music (and some don't listen to music at all), no weddings, no parties, no new clothes...rather a semi-mourning period for the deaths of R' Akiva's students.

The summertime "Tammuz and Av" months have gone from being months of harvest, to 3 weeks of mourning the Temple's destruction, the siege of Jerusalem, the eviction of the Jewish people from Eretz Yisrael, and more.

Throw in the "bitter" month of Mar-Cheshvan, and additional fast days, Holocaust remembrance days, and you have a total of close to 3 not so happy months.

This puts a damper on summer vacation for kids who are trying to get a break from school, makes it more difficult for parents and educators who want to pass on the meaning of the mourning for the Beit HaMikdash. (Actually, maybe this is much easier in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere, when school is in session now anyway?)

The bright side is that when the Beit HaMikdash is rebuilt, the summer will once again be joyous from end to end.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Batya said...

Many Jews are more aware of the restrictions of sfira than of the 3 weeks and 9 days, because that's when they're in school. I think, actually pretty sure, that it was pretty much the last I learned of when becoming religious.

Leora said...

One of my pet peeves is camps that are slow on teaching instructional swim, because of the nine days. I would prefer a camp that kept instructional swim and disallowed recreational swim for those days. I mean, these are kids! The nine days just means being sweaty to them.

Sarah Likes Green said...

Sometimes winter break from school falls out during the three weeks (here in Australia) when there are various camps on (usually just a few days away) but it's nothing like the long summer camps and vacations of the Northern Hemisphere.

Anonymous said...

מרחשון has nothing to do with bitterness.

See here for how the month was named:

מקורו של השם מרחשון הוא במילה האכדית "וַורְחֻ-שַׁמְנֻ", שפירושה: וַורְחֻ = יֶרַח, חודש; שַׁמְנֻ = שמיני. מכיוון שהאותיות ו' וּ-מ' הן עיצורים שפתיים, לעתים קורה שהן מתחלפות זו בזו. וכך נוצרו שני חילופים ב"וורחשמן" שהפך ל"מרחשוון": האות ו במלה הראשונה הוחלפה בשלב כלשהו באות מ, וה-מ' במלה השנייה הוחלפה באות ו'. סברה זו עולה בקנה אחד עם הידיעה התלמודית ש"שמות חודשים עלו בידם מבבל" (תלמוד ירושלמי מסכת ראש השנה א, ב).

בעקבות קריאה מוטעית, כנראה, נקרא החודש ברוב תפוצות ישראל מַר־חֵשְוָן, מה שהביא להתייחסות ל"מר" כאל קידומת, ובסוף הביא להשמטתה.

Anonymous said...

if i remember correctly, we had instructional swim only during the 9 days (i could be wrong, though, it's been a few years) but it was because of camp that i knew the significance and halacha of the entire period. i still feel that the summer really doesn't begin until after tisha'b'av which is really bad when it falls out in august...

Jack Steiner said...

One of my camp memories is that Tisha B'Av was always the hottest day of summer.

Lion of Zion said...

abutor is correct


when i was in camp we had instructional swim

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Personally, I hated instructional swim -- therefore for me, it was extremely appropriate for the 9 days...

(And yes, AbuTor is correct, but its still not considered a "fun" month...)

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