Rosh Hodesh of the Fifth Month 5767
Most of you are aware of the great excitement and anticipation being caused by the impending release of the final installment of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
How could you not be aware of the hype?
J. K. Rowling, who said she cried at the completion of the book, purports to answer all of our questions in this final gaze into the life of one of the most famous protagonists ever, a teen-age wizard. However, for those of us who are Torah-observant Jews, the answers to those questions will have to be delayed for several days after the release of the book. Not only does the book go on sale on Shabbath, but also during the "Nine Days," from the first through the ninth day of the "Fifth Month" (Menahem Av). Leading up to the ninth of the month (Tisha b'Av), various aveluth (mourning) practices are observed, culminating in the full night and day Fast of Tisha b'Av, the anniversary of the destruction of both the First and Second Holy Temples, as well as other calamities which have befallen the Jewish People.
Even those who hold to observing aveluth only during the week in which Tisha b'Av falls (Mishnah Torah, Hil. Ta'aniyoth 5:6) will have to wait.
Although not explicitly stated by the Ramba"m, cited above, many halachic (Jewish legal) authorities hold that purchases which raise ones spirits (eg. new clothes) should be curtailed during this period of aveluth, when are hearts and minds should be focused on events of great tragedy.
So, since I will have to wait a little longer than most you to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I will take this opportunity to reiterate the author J. K. Rowling's request, that those of you who read the book not reveal its contents to those who have yet to read it, thus ruining the experience for them,...for us.
Hopefully, there will be a new character in the book which I could play on screen. The movie is already slated for production, and due out sometime in 5770-71 (2010). Of course, the producers and director (and Ms. Rowling, if you're reading) will have to accept that I won't work on Shabbath or Yom Tov (holidays)....
I was just informed by a friend of mine from Me'ah Sha'arim that he has pre-ordered the new Harry Potter book from a bookstore in town. His copy, which cost him a whopping NIS 139 (about $33), will now be waiting for him to pick it up on Sunday. He has asked me to be "shaliah," in other words, to go pick it up for him, as he does not want to be seen. In exchange, I'll get to borrow it.
For what it's worth, this isn't just any resident of Me'ah Sha'arim, but a former mashgi'ah at a yeshivah in the same neighborhood.
I mentioned my opinion regarding the purchase and the "Nine Days." He just brushed it off by saying that people get killed in the book, so it's OK. He then elaborated on how it really was OK according to his understanding halachah related to the "Nine Days."
I just heard that an Arab-owned store on Sala-din Street in Jerusalem's Old City pre-sold 120 books, and then opened up on Shabbath at 5:30 AM in order to distribute them. A rabbi, whose identity has yet to be learned by me, said that it was [technically] mutar (permissible), as no money was exchanged, no Jews were employed, and an eruv was in force.
More news on the release of the final Harry Potter book is reported by Rafi G. at Life In Israel.