Is Torah Superstitious?

Reader: What’s your take on this idea that the 3 weeks or the 9 days are a time when people should be more cautious because it’s likely something bad will happen? This sounds very superstitious to me. How can a just God set a time in the year where more bad things are likely to happen? It kind of reminds me of the idea of bad things happening due to a defective letter in a mezuzah.

—Jack Hazan

Rabbi: The idea is that we should recognize that God has a reward and punishment system, and that reality is highlighted during these three weeks. So by acting in a way where we fear punishment, that demonstrates our acceptance of the reality of punishment. But in no way do we validate powers other than God, nor omens during a certain time. As God created the universe alone, with no aid from another source, suggesting such forces exists violates reason. However, God did select the 9th of the month of Av as a day of repeated calamities in order to demonstrate that these calamities were not happenstance. By the calamities occurring on identical dates, and on numerous occasions, we realize that they are divine and due to our sins.