Some notes for 17 Tammuz and the 3 Weeks from today's Hakhel email:
Special Note One: Today is the Seventeenth day of Tammuz, a fast day by Takanas HaNeviim, which is no small matter. If we look at the number 17, we will soon realize that it is concomitantly the Gematria of each of “Oy”, “Chait”, and “Tov”. Thus, we see that the power of the day need not only lie in the negative, but can and must extend to the positive and good, as well.
We typically remember that the first frightful event that happened on this day was Moshe Rabbeinu’s breaking of the Shnei Luchos which contained the Aseres Hadibros, as a result of the sin of the Golden Calf. If only the people had shown enough faith to wait one more day for their venerable and venerated leader, their happiness and dancing would have resulted in the greatest Simchas Torah ever(!). Instead, we still feel the pain from the torturous event.
In fact, there was one prior significant event on this fateful day which preceded the breaking of the Luchos. The Luach Dovor B’Ito writes that the Yona, the dove sent by Noach out of the Ark, could not find a place to land and so returned to the Teiva (Bereishis 8:8). The obvious question is, why would Noach bother sending the dove out without any indication whatsoever (from Hashem directly, or otherwise) that the waters had receded? Was he taking a stab in the dark? We may posit that Noach sensed or knew that the day was right for renewal and joy. The fact that the dove returned indicated to him that it was he and his family, representing all of mankind, who were the ones not ready for this renewal. The same lesson carried through on this date to the Golden Calf, and thereafter the subsequent tragedies on this day in which our people’s spiritual growth was stunted rather than cultivated.
Today and the three weeks in front of us should not be viewed as a burden to be overcome, evidence by our expression to others to have “an easy time of it.” Instead, it should be a meaningful and important time in which we hope, pray and take action. Depression and despair should not be the hallmark of these days, for they may evidence a breach or lack of faith which is the antithesis of spiritual growth. We should learn from the gift of gravity that Hashem has given us to always keep both feet firmly on the ground despite the forces working against us.
It is the custom of some to recite “Tikun Chatzos” during the Three Week period--some even in the middle of the day. We may not as yet be on this level. However, we should remember that every day, three times daily in Modi’im, we thank Hashem “for the goodness given to us in the evening, in the morning, and in the afternoon.” What goodness is it that Hashem gives us at these especially designated times? We suggest that it is Tefillah itself. If we can conclude the Yehi Ratzon at the end of Shemone Esrei with Kavana during these three weeks, three times a day, we will have sincerely davened for the Beis Hamikdash and our redemption more than 60 times during this short period! Rather than wallowing in self-pity, we will demonstrate a renewal of our faith and have beautifully affirmed our supreme goals.
In the merit of our prayers, may we see with our own eyes the ultimate redemption at the beginning of the short period of special thought that lies ahead.