These nine days are part of the wider Three Weeks. The Talmud teaches: “When the month of Av begins, we reduce our joy (b. Ta’anit 26b).” Therefore, during the nine days leading up to Tisha B’Av, it is traditional to observe certain mourning rituals. Specific traditions vary between communities, but common Ashkenazi minhagim during the Nine Days include avoiding weddings during the whole three week period and other joyous celebrations, getting a haircut, and certain restrictions on the wearing of laundered clothes. Expanding on a prohibition in the Shulchan Arukh (Code of Jewish Law), many religious Jews also avoid eating meat or drinking wine during these nine days (except on Shabbat).
The practice of these customs is meant to build into the fabric of our daily lives the reminder that without a holy Temple in Jerusalem there is an aspect of our joy that is constantly diminished. For it means we are still in an element of Exile and that we still await the return of Mashiach.
In the Mussaf Amidah for Shabbat, we pray:
“May it be Your will, HaShem our G-d and G-d of our ancestors who restores His children to their land, to lead us in joy to our land and to settle us within our borders. There our ancestors sacrificed to You with their special offerings, and there may we worship You with reverence as in days of old and ancient times.”
Our longing for the restoration of our people to our land, and the reestablishment of the Temple in Jerusalem are central tenants of our faith. Therefore, during these nine days, let us join our people in mourning not only the loss of both Temples in Jerusalem and their surrounding calamities, but all the other catastrophes which have befallen the Jewish people during this season. And let us cry out for redemption, and for Mashiach to return and usher in the Messianic Age.