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    The 21 days

    The fast of Tishah B’Av is the culmination of the Three Weeks, which are known as Bein Ham’tzarim – “Between the Straits”.

    This is based on a verse from Echah 1:3, “All her (Israel’s) pursuers caught her between the straits”.

    One view is that the verse is metaphorical and indicates, “The Jewish people were in desperate straits”.

    The Arugat HaBosem carries out a count and finds that the letters of the verse, kol rod’fehah hisiguhah bein ham’tzarim, have the same numerical value as heimah chaf-aleph yamim miyud-zayin b’Tammuz ad Tishah B’Av – “these are the 21 days from 17 Tammuz to 9 Av”.

    The Midrash Echah Rabbati recalls the blossoming almond-twig that Jeremiah saw and says that it takes 21 days for the blossoms to turn into almonds.

    In other words, the pain caused by the enemy worsened from day to day until it reached its peak (or nadir) on 9 Av.

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