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July 15, 2013 10:22 am

Israel PM Netanyahu Stresses ‘Unity’ Ahead of 9th of Av; Meteorologist Braces for Traditional Choppy Seas

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Mediterranean Sea

Mediterranean Sea. Photo: WikiCommons.

The “Three Weeks” of traditional Jewish mourning to commemorate the destruction of the historic First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, from 17th Tammuz to 9th of Av, culminates with Tisha B’Av on Monday evening and Tuesday. For the occasion, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu called for “unity,” and Israeli meteorologists prepared for traditional stormy weather.

At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to what rabbis have long named as the underlying cause of the Temples’ destruction, senseless hatred and unnecessary disagreements among Jews.

“This week we will mark the Ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, Tisha b’Av. We remember the disaster that befell our people – the destruction of the Temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, the destruction of our land. We remember that this destruction was accompanied, and even expedited, by gratuitous hatred among us,” the Prime Minister said.

“I think that the Jewish People has learned the lesson. We know the importance of unity among our people, a unity of forces, and such unity around central ideas. We have returned to the Land of Israel. We have built our state. We have built our capital Jerusalem and we have created one of the most prosperous, developed and advanced countries in the world. Today, this is very considerable given the background of what is happening in the region, from Morocco to Pakistan, and what is happening opposite an advanced continent such as Europe,” he continued.

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“The State of Israel is prosperous, strong, united and developed and we must be united on the main goals that I will detail here – and stand together in the face of major challenges that threaten our security – regarding the implementation of the vision that we have here,” Netanyahu told the cabinet members.

As the “Three Weeks” are considered a very calamitous time in the Jewish calendar, rabbis caution against “risky activities,” including swimming in the ocean. Israel’s Channel 2 Meteorologist Elad Zohar said the scientific basis for the recommendation is a period of strong winds that typically impact the Mediterranean Sea during the same time every Summer.

Zohar explained: “In general, there are more wind streams in July and August, and it is likely the time around Tisha B’Av has strong currents. Usually, during the first nine days from the start of the month of Av, there will be a stormy sea at some point, so it is not unreasonable to think that during the nine days [the final 9 days of the 21 days of the ‘Three Weeks’] the sea is dangerous… characterized by strong westerly winds, high waves and strong currents, more than usual.”

“As we get closer to Tisha B’Av this year, [the forecast] specifically [through] Tuesday (the day of Tisha B’Av) includes small waves, and the sea should be calmer. But on Wednesday, one day after Tisha B’Av, the Persian channel will be impacted. The wind will cause high waves and more sweeping seas, which is consistent with this time [in other years.]”

The meteorologist added that this was all after a very superficial analysis and no inferences should be drawn: “Atmospheric pressure and waves do not follow the calendar – it’s important to emphasize that this is not research, but as a rule of thumb, one can assume that there is no possibility of the Hebrew calendar to predict the behavior of the sea. Tisha B’Av can come throughout July [or August.] And it can be a very windy week, as it was in the beginning of the month, when the sea was dangerous.”

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