It may seem a stretch to many, but former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin believes that the Jewish “Three Weeks” period of mourning for the Temple (bein hameitzarim in Hebrew) has a lot to do with the Muslim commemoration of Ramadan. The month-long Muslim period of fasting by day and feasting by night began Wednesday, in the midst of the three week Jewish period of mourning that falls between the fast days of 17th Tamuz and Tisha B'Av, which takes place next Tuesday.
On his Facebook page, Rivlin wrote that Ramadan is a time of introspection for Muslims, who engage in special acts of charity and good deeds during the period. “Muslim tradition teaches that there are three periods to Ramadan – periods of mercy, forgiveness, and freedom. The fast days educated people for tolerance, to identify with the suffering of others, and to work together for a common cause,” Rivlin wrote.
There were similar strains in the Jewish attitude during the Three Weeks, Rivlin wrote. “Jews do a thorough spiritual introspection of the incitement and baseless hatred that led to the destruction and exile.” The coincidence of Ramadan and the Three Weeks “is an important opportunity for Israeli society in general, which can learn important moral lessons from the customs of both periods,” he wrote.
“Would that all of us, Arab and Jew, would not harden our hearts, and be more merciful to each other,” Rivlin wrote. “May it be G-d's will that the children of Abraham, all of them residents of this Land, will open their hearts and provide an example of coexistence and mutual respect.” Rivlin concluded by wishing Muslims “an easy and beneficial fast, and a joyful Ramadan.”