Days of Sadness, Days of Joy

In addition to the festivals, there are two main times in the Jewish year that are not appropriate for weddings. These days commemorate sad events in Jewish history. The first sad period is called the Three Weeks and the second is called the Omer.

The Three Weeks

This three-week period falls during the summer and begins with a fast day known as Shivah Asar B'tamuz, the seventeenth day of the Hebrew month of Tamuz. This day commemorates the siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. These three weeks are a time in which weddings are not held. The period ends with the saddest day of the Jewish year, Tisha B'av, the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. Tisha B'av commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem, first in the year 583 b.c.e. by the Assyrians and second by the Romans in the year 70 c.e. Since weddings should be one of our most joyous days, it would not be fitting to hold one on a sad day on the Jewish calendar.

There is a difference between Jews of Sephardic background and those of Ashkenazi decent with regard to holding a wedding during these three sad weeks. Ashkenazi Jews do not hold weddings at all during the three weeks. Sephardic Jews can get married until the last nine days, which fall from the first day of the month of Av until the ninth of Av.

The Omer

The Omer or Sefirat HaOmer (literally, the Counting of the Omer) is the name for the fifty days that are counted between the second day of the holiday of Passover and the beginning of the holiday of Shavuot. This counting commemorates the travel of the Jewish people from Egypt to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Though in theory this should be a happy time, about 2,000 years ago, all the 24,000 students of the famous Rabbi Akivah died during this period. Today it is a time of mourning and thus not a time permitted for weddings.

Though the general period of the Omer is a sad one, there are two days during this period, aside from Lag Ba'Omer, that are so overwhelmingly joyous that many rabbis will allow a wedding on them. Both dates commemorate recent events in Jewish history. The first is Yom Yirushalayim, Jerusalem Day, which falls on the twenty-eighth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar and commorates the unification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War of 1967. It was on that day that the Jewish people were allowed to return to the place of the holy Wailing Wall and Temple Mount in Jerusalem after 2,000 years. The second is Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, which is on the fifth of Iyar and commemorates the day the state of Israel was established in 1948.

There are differing customs regarding which thirty-three days during the fifty-day Omer period are days of mourning. Some limit joy during the first thirty-three days of the count, and others start their mourning practices on the first day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, eight days after Passover, and end three days before Shavuot. The thirty-third day in the Omer count is marked by the lesser known holiday of Lag Ba'Omer, on which weddings are allowed.

Especially Auspicious Days

Some days are considered more auspicious for a wedding celebration than others.

  • During the first half of a lunar cycle, the waxing moon

  • During the week after the full moon

  • During the Hebrew month of Adar

  • During the Hebrew month of Elul

  • During the Hebrew month of Kislev

  • During the Hebrew month of Nisan

  • The 15th day of the month of Av

  • Tuesdays (on this day of creation, the Bible writes “it was good” twice)

Remember these auspicious days would not necessarily push aside practical considerations — for instance, if a beloved uncle can't make it on a more auspicious day. Getting married is a holy act and a mitzvah, and it should not be pushed off just to have it coincide with an auspicious day.

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