The calendrical period between the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz and the Fast of Tisha B’av is known as Bein
Hame’tzarim
(in the midst of distress) and is referred to colloquially as the “Three Weeks.” While the
latter describes the time frame between these two fasts, the former, finds its source from the verse in
Scripture (Lamentations 1:3), “all her [Israel’s] pursuers overtook her in the midst of her distress.” The
Three Weeks represents the saddest period in the Jewish calendar.

The Talmud teaches that while the First Temple was destroyed because of the cardinal sins of murder,
idolatry and sexual immorality, the successful razing of the Second Temple by the Romans is attributed
to Sinat Chinam, which literally means “free hatred,” but connotes hatred for no apparent reason or, at
least, no legitimate reason.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook famously stated that the antidote to baseless hatred is baseless
love, Ahavat Chinam (Orot Hakodesh, section 3, page 324). In modern parlance, which perhaps owes a
proper citation to Rabbi Kook, the concept of “random acts of kindness” may find its source from this
idea.

During the period of the Three Weeks, Jewish Treats will endeavor to share some brief and inspiring
thoughts related to the topic of Ahavat Chinam, or Ahavat Yisrael, the love we should exhibit for our fellow
Jews.

The primary Scriptural source associated with Ahavat Chinam and Ahavat Yisrael is the famous “Golden
Rule: “You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love
your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord
” (Leviticus 19:18). Rabbi Hillel famously taught, “that which is
hateful to you, do not do to others” (Talmud Shabbat 31a). Referring to this Biblical verse, Rabbi Akiva
proclaimed: “This is a major principle of the Torah” (Jerusalem Talmud Nedarim 9:4).

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