The 5th Month – אב / Menachem Av Part I

The 5th Month – אב/Menachem Av Part I

Part of an ongoing series entitled Hidden Sparks Beneath the Surface by Betty Givin aka Elisheva Tavor
We’ve come through the tragic and painful 17th Day of Tammuz which commemorates the day in which the walls of Jerusalem were breached, and now 3 weeks later, as we look upon the tiny sliver of another new moon, we find ourselves entering into the nine days, on the cusp of an even more tragic and painful day, that of Tisha b’Av, the historic 9th day of Av. This day is a day of mourning and often referred to as the saddest day in Jewish history. Yet our G-d and Father is with us, providing comfort in our sadness…the month is Av, אב meaning Father, and is often referred to as Menachem Av, meaning the “Comfort of the Father.”

In Jewish circles the tradition is to diminish in experiences that bring us pleasure during these 9 days. Traditionally there are no happy events– no vacations, weddings, no wine, no dancing.

Whether we are Jewish or not we are all family for we have joined ourselves , to the Jewish people and to HaShem, the One G-d and Creator of the Universe and to His Torah!

As sad and tragic as the events of these days have been in history, even up to the present, we need to try to rise above them. We pray, certainly, but cannot allow ourselves to become so overwhelmed that we become paralyzed, dismayed and frozen with the rampant baseless hatred that has plagued the human race since Gan Eden. We must work to turn that baseless hatred into baseless love!

We have to focus on being better people, on drawing closer together. It can be an intimate time, a time of tears and a time of mourning, of lament…In Jewish circles it is traditional to gather together with our community and pray on the eve of Tisha b’Av. As we enter the synagogue or shul we remove our shoes, literally get down on the floor and together read the book of Eichah, Lamentations. It is a time of breaking down walls within our own hearts and souls and between one another…it comes with pain and it comes with humility and being honest with ourselves. It is a time of coming to grips with who we are, with what our purpose in life is.

During these 9 days we try to take a deep introspective look at ourselves, do t’shuvah, to “return to our hearts” as we are admonished in Deuteronomy 4:39, and engage in tikkun and endeavor to repair what is broken in us, b’ezrat HaShem, (with the help of HaShem ); and as we are repaired we reach out and help repair the brokenness that lies all around us.
The Koksker Rebbe has a beautiful quote. He says, “There is nothing as whole as a broken heart.” This time period does indeed carry with it a sense of heaviness and mourning, but it also can be a time of innate joy, a time of simcha as we find blessings in the midst of the heartache and look forward to the redemption when HaShem will wipe away all our tears. We each have a G-d given part to play…it has to start with each one of us as individuals.

Remember Yosef? He was sold by his own brothers (traditionally the date was Tisha b’Av); but what did he do in response to their baseless hatred? He turned it into baseless love…he embraced them and forgave them completely; and they became a family, united once again,’ and out of that family, came a nation, one that after much struggle and hardship finally came out of the “straits,” the narrow place, the place of restrictions, of Mitzrayim. You know the history from there…all about the wilderness wanderings, coming into the land, the destruction of both temples, the galut/diaspora…yet through it all HaShem’s eyes have never left His people…His Hand (although often hidden) has always been upon them and is presently with them and with all who attach themselves to Him and to His chosen people to this day.

In the poignant words of Rebbe Nachman, “Tears open gates, music demolishes walls”. We need both…we begin with tears and look forward to the music!

We can look around us today and see signs of the ingathering. There are prophecies all throughout the Tanakh about the surety of the coming redemption. The prophecy in the book of Isaiah, “He will gather to the gathered.” (Isa 56:8 ) is coming to pass right before our very eyes! HaShem’s children are waking up, coming to themselves and returning to their hearts!
Therefore as we commemorate the 9th of Av with its sadness and tears over all the tragic events that have occurred,, we look forward with hope and faith to the final redemption when there will be no more mourning, and as prophesied in Zechariah 8:18-23 all the Fast days including the upcoming fast of the 5th month, Tisha b’Av, will be turned into days of simcha…rejoicing and celebration, and HaShem’s House will be a House of Prayer for all people, never to be destroyed again. Baruch HaShem!!!

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