Mourning the Three Weeks
The point of mourning during Bein haMetzarim (“between the tragedies”, a/k/a the “Three Weeks”) is not to be miserable in-and-of itself.
How many politicians and other famous people recently said “I’m sorry” only to continue their announcement in a way that implies that they mean “I’m sorry I was caught?”
Now picture the criminal who is caught and actually repents in prison. They might need having gotten caught and feeling the personal consequences in order to repent. But the person can indeed end up on the straight and narrow because of it.
In my humble opinion, we don’t need minhagim just to make sure we’re wallowing in the day’s tragedy. I don’t feel a need to find more situations in which showering would be prohibited, or to discuss the person who prefers whisky to wine anyway, or whether one should wear comfortable sneakers as a way to avoid leather shoes on Tish’ah beAv.
If we have enough minhagim on Tish’ah beAv to set a atmosphere and mood that encourage the teshuvah necessary to end this galus, then we have enough. And if we add chumros so that we focus on misery rather than fixing things, we have too many.
Now the background story to this post.
This morning, I read the following on the Facebook group “Mekoros”:
Where is the halacha that one is allowed to trigger the need for a shower by exercising (working out)?
The very next post I read was on Avodah‘s moderation queue here on AishDas.org (by Ben Waxman, sent today at 6:12am Israel time):
Is there any concept of extending the basic minhagim restrictions of the nine days like no meat or no wine to other “fancy” type foods? A great salmon steak is just as good or even better than many types of meat, certainly it is more expensive and can be seen as a delicacy. Similarly good beer or whiskey is certainly just as “sameach” as wine. Or do we say “the minhag is the minhag and don’t go adding even more items to the list”. IOW it is entirely possible to fulfill the letter of the minhag and yet not feel the nine days at all.
RBW’s question on Avodah made me think that there could be a leshitasam argument (perhaps according to some opinion, the same rav would say…) from the posqim who are and those who aren’t okay with our wearing comfortable sneakers as an alternative to wearing leather shoes on Tish’ah beAv.
But the juxtaposition of the two posts caused an emotional reaction that I wanted to share here (as well as in reply on Avodah).
How much advance planning should we do for this period, considering that we’re also supposed to look forward daily to our redemption? In advance of Tishâ€™ah beAv, I’ve run into statements like “let this be our last Tishâ€™ah beAv in galut.” I hope last year’s Tishâ€™ah beAv was the last such.