The following was translated EXCLUSIVELY for SHMAIS.com from the "Hiskashrus" publication by Tzach in Israel.
Bein HaMeitzarim (The Three Weeks)
From the 17th of Tammuz until after Tisha B’Av we do not conduct weddings, but engagements may be announced. Engagement celebrations without dancing are permitted until Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av. (After Rosh Chodesh one should not make engagement parties even on Shabbos, but light refreshments may be served.)
We do not take haircuts or shave, but we may cut our nails.
We do not make the blessing of She’hecheyanu on a new fruit or garment even on Shabbos (unless the fruit will not be available after the Three Weeks). Vocal singing is permitted. Musical recordings, that are not being listened to for joy (e.g. in camps), were permitted by Rabbi Zalman Shimon Dvorkin a”h, until Rosh Chodesh.
It is preferable not to conduct a Sefer Torah Dedication Ceremony during this period, but to wait for a more appropriate time.
The Three Weeks is not an appropriate time for trips and outings. Even camps should try and postpone or at least minimize them as much as possible.
Someone who needs to travel during this period should try to make meaningful and concrete preparations for the trip before Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, so that he will feel as if the trip started before the Three Weeks.
It is preferable not to schedule medical procedures during this period.
An “Upsherenish” should be postponed until after the Three Weeks. All other customs relating to the third birthday – wearing Tzitzis, Morning Blessings, Bentching, and Shema at night – should not be postponed, but should start on the third birthday.
Special Customs for this Period:
To increase in Torah study and Tzedakah (especially on the Shabboses in the Three Weeks, one should gather people together [to study Torah], and to give Tzedakah in a permitted manner by inviting guests and hosting them graciously, or by giving twice as much Tzedakah on Friday), as the verse says: “Zion will be redeemed through justice (Torah study), and her captives through Tzedakah”
One should establish, (and where it is already in place, increase), classes in the practical Halachos of these days. One should also study about the Ge’ulah and the teachings about the structure of the Beis Hamikdash. As our Sages say “I (Hashem) will consider it as if they are occupied in the construction of the Beis Hamikdash (if they learn these topics)”
Namely: Yechezkel - from Chapter 40.
Mishna and Gemara -Mesechtos Middos and Tamid.
Rambam – Hilchos Beis Habechira.
One should also learn the explanations of Chassidus on the subject of the Beis Hamikdash, especially the teachings of the Tzemach Tzedek, where our generation has merited the revelation of several teachings on Yechezkel (Or HaTorah on Tenach), and some also on Meseches Middos (Chidushim on Shas ad loc.) etc.
The increase in Tzedakah should be directed, if possible, to the “microcosm of the Beis Hamikdash” namely: Shuls, Yeshivas and the like.
The Fast of the 17h of Tammuz:
Someone who did not go to sleep at all may continue eating until dawn. Someone who went to sleep with the intent to wake up and eat or drink before dawn, must have the explicit intention, before going to sleep, that he has not yet accepted the fast upon himself and then he may eat until dawn.
One should not rinse his mouth on a fast day.
Children who already understand the reason for the fast, should eat simple foods, not snacks and “nosh”.
The congregation only says “Aneinu” at Mincha. The Chazzan says it during the repetition of the Amidah as its own Bracha between “Go’el Yisroel” and “Refo’einu”, even if only three congregants are fasting. If there are less than three, he should say it at “Shome’a Tefillah.”
Selichos should be said while standing, especially “Ashamnu”, “Hashem, Hashem”, “Shema Koleinu” and “Avinu Malkeinu”.
Our custom is to recite Selichos after Tachanun in the following order:
“Al Titnu”, “Kerachem”, “Elokeinu.. Asanu Lecha”, “Kel Melech”, “Vaya’vor….”, “Elokim Al Domi”, “Kerachem Av”,” Elokeinu….Amorer Bevechi”, “Kel Melech”, “Vaya’vor….”, “”She’eh Ne’esar”, “Kel Melech”, “Vaya’vor….”, “Zechor Rachamecha”, “Zechor Lanu”, “Shema Koleinu”, “Meshiach Tzidkecha”, “Kel Rachum”, “Aneinu Hashem Aneinu”, Mi She’anah..”, “Rachamana de’anay” “the long Avinu Malkeinu” (make sure to say Zachreinu le… not Zachreinu besefer….), “Va’anchnu lo neda” then Half-Kaddish.
We read “Vayechal” both at Shacharis and Mincha, even if only three of the congregants are fasting. Someone who is not fasting should not be given an Aliyah. If he was called to the Torah and would be distressed to notify people that he is not fasting, he should accept the Aliyah.
The verses: “Shuv”, “Hashem, Hashem” and “Vesalachta” are recited by the congregation out loud, followed by the Torah Reader. When the Rebbe received this Aliyah, he would start reciting the verse with the congregation and finish with the Torah Reader.”
The Rebbe writes: “on the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av some people learn from the Prophets the details about the events that occurred on that day.
(Melachim II, 25:3-8, Yirmiyahu 39:2-7 and Zechariah 8:18-19.)
It is customary to contribute to Tzedakah before Mincha, “the value of the fast”, meaning the cost of their meals on that day (if they would be eating). The custom is to increase in Tzedakah both quantitatively and qualitatively (in a gracious manner) on a fast day.
Mincha Services are conducted relatively late in the day.
The order is as follows:
Ketores, Ashrei, Half-Kaddish, Torah Reading as in the morning with three Aliyos, the third being Maftir. Half-Kaddish is not recited after the Torah Reading. The Haftorah is “Dirshu..” Three blessings are recited after the Haftorah up to (and including) “Magen David”. “Yehallelu and Half Kaddish, Amidah.
At Mincha, individuals say Aneinu in the middle of “Shome’a Tefillah, concluding with the regular blessing. If he forgot to say it, he should say it after “Elokai Netzor”, before the second “Yihyu Leratzon”. The Chazzan says “Aneinu” during the repetition of the Amidah as its own Bracha between “Go’el Yisroel” and “Refo’einu”.
Those who do Birchas Kohanim every day should do so at Mincha. If there is no Birchas Kohanim, the Chazzan should recite it during the repetition.
The Rebbe renewed the age-old custom of saying “Divrei Kivushin” (words of admonishment and encouragement) after Mincha on a fast day. “It is proper to re-institute this aforementioned custom, wherever possible, after Mincha (at least a few words), or an appropriate chapter of Tehillim, and where not possible, at least think Divrei Kivushin, since “The Merciful One desires the (service of) the heart”, especially about Teshuvah as “Teshuva is mainly in the heart”, then “Hashem will connect the good thought to the deed.”
* If a Bris is being celebrated in this congregation at Shacharis, Selichos and Vidu’i should be recited as usual, but without Tachanau. Some say that the father should not say Selichos at all. Avinu Malkeinu is not said if Tachanun is not said.