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    Back to normal

    With the end of the Three Weeks, weddings resume, attending places of entertainment is again permissible, playing music is allowed, and it seems that everything is back to normal.

    We get that feeling several times a year – after Pesach, when we pick up the “rest of the year” regime in the kitchen; after the S’firah, when the period of semi-mourning concludes; after the Tishri festivals, when we come down to reality and most synagogues become rather empty again.

    In a sense the same thing applies three times a day during davening, when we take three steps back at the end of the Amidah.

    In all of these situations it is useful to bear in mind the words of the Talmud in relation to the Amidah. What the sages say is that the three steps back are like taking leave from a king (Yoma 53b).

    The implication is that there comes a moment when the audience with the monarch is over. One has to leave the throne room, walk through the palace to the front door, and emerge onto the street.

    At that moment life is back to normal. But the memory inevitably lingers. It colours one’s thoughts and feelings for hours, even for days, months and years.

    After the Amidah the thought of being in the King’s presence should similarly elevate our day and our deeds. After every highlight of the calendar we should also find ourselves invigorated and inspired.

    As far as the Three Weeks are concerned, the message that lingers should be one of greater devotion to the Jewish past and destiny.

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