Rosh Chodesh Tammuz just passed, and we’re approaching the Three Weeks again. It’s the time of year when my wife and I become confused. It’s supposed to be a sad time and there are certain restrictions we observe, but no one seems to take this seriously. Camps have workarounds and the non-musical music is just as jazzy. How do we impart to our children the importance of this time period?
I answered a similar question a few years ago. I agree with what you’re saying, to a point. To say that “no one seems to take this seriously” is certainly an incorrect generalization. Camps don’t have workarounds. They ask questions to rabbanim and are told what they should and should not do. They don’t say during the Nine Days, “It’s too hot, let’s go swimming!” They speak to the camp rav and the camp doctor and then make the appropriate decisions.
The music point is one that’s discussed quite frequently and is not so simple, though it’s beyond the scope of this article to go into detail. There are many questions that can be asked. Are drums considered a musical instrument? Is prerecording voices and synching them to a beat allowed? In either case, these are questions that need to be decided by your rav.
The primary question that you asked, though, is, “How do we impart to our children the importance of this time period?” That’s a fair question. Below are a few points that might help answer your question.
Ultimately, these are children. In a perfect world, children might be focused on the Three Weeks. Unfortunately, Mashiach is not here yet, so it’s not a perfect world. Therefore, kids are more likely to be worried about their phone’s battery level and the score of their favorite team.
You can change one aspect of your daily schedule during the Three Weeks. For example, tell your children that during the Three Weeks you’ll be more careful to say hello to your neighbors.
Regarding acapella music, you would need to ask your rav. Better yet, let your kids ask the rav. This way, you don’t need to be the bad guy if the rav says no, and you can also teach your kids the importance of communicating with their rav.
The best way to teach your children about the Three Weeks is to lead by example. You might want to bring up a new halachah every day about lashon ha’ra, or maybe just spend a few minutes discussing the importance of bein adam l’chaveiro. Additionally, there are several good books available that are a great way to remind our children about the beauty of the Beis HaMikdash and the tragic Churban that took place. With young children, it might be meaningful to read a relevant children’s book each night at bedtime.
Most importantly, I would like to reiterate one of my favorite thoughts regarding parenting. Choose your battles. I know you feel that this is important, and it truly is, but I’m not 100 percent sure that it’s worth the battle.
In the z’chus of your wonderful parenting, may we be zoche to experience the coming of Mashiach.
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a well-known rebbe and parenting adviser. To sign up for the weekly e‑mails and read the comments, visit YidParenting.com.