Bein ha-Metzarim is the period between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B’Av. It’s a time of mourning for the loss of the Temples and the exile of the Jews from Israel. And during this time, you’re not supposed to shave, get a haircut, get married, or listen to music.
Wait…no music? No way dude. I’m not into it. This "Three Weeks" thing isn’t my scene.
It’s not that I’m irreligious. Hardly. I probably read the Torah and Talmud every day. It’s an occupational hazard of working for PunkTorah. My problem really stems from the faulty logic that surrounds The Three Weeks.
I really hate the idea of Tradition-Becomes-Law, and clearly that’s what The Three Weeks are about. Prohibitions about what kinds of prayers you can say, kinds of meat you can eat, how hot your bath water should be…these are all made up by rabbis just to torture you. These cultural traditions get codified over time, which is odd given that the G-d explicitly says not to add or take away anything from the Torah (Deut. 4:2, 12:32). Since I’m not Ashkenazic (or Sephardic, for that matter) I have a hard time believing that I should follow the laws of a culture I do not belong to, especially if they are passed off as law when they clearly are not.
Secondly, I don’t think that the Jews being scattered through the Diaspora is worth three weeks without your ipod. I’m of the opinion that Jews are in the Diaspora because G-d wants us to "take it to the streets", as you might say. For me, the Temple is a metaphor for hiding, of locking ourselves away from the rest of the world. Now it’s time to leave the Temple-in-our-minds-and-hearts and be with other nations, so that we can share our values and wisdom with the world, as well as learn from others. I don’t think this is an idea worth mourning; I think it’s worth honoring.
I’ll go to a Tisha B’Av service. I’ll be a part of community. I’ll reflect on what it means to be a people without a Temple. I’ll do all of it, because I love it and I live it. But, in the world of Charelton Heston, I’ll give you my ipod when you take it out of my "cold, dead hands." And he was Moses, so it doesn’t get more legit than that.