Rambling ...

I'm an Irish Girl, A Dubliner, with the 'Gift of the Gab' ... I like to talk & to tell you things. In Celtic times news, views and comment were carried from place to place by wandering Seanachaí ~ Storytellers ~ who relied on their host's hospitality and appreciation. I will need that from you too, as I venture to share Politics, Poetry, Laughter, Love, Life & everything in-between ... from Bog to Blog!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Troubled Times .... From Tisha to Tu B'Av!!

"If you believe that it is possible to break, believe it is also possible to fix"
~ Rabbi Nachman of Breshlev ~

I wasn't intending to post today, intending instead to ignore totally Tu B'Av.  Today,  Tu B'Av (the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av), is the most mystical day of the Jewish Calendar.  In Israel it is celebrated as a holiday of love ( חג האהבה, Chag Ha'Ahava),  kind of like Valentine’s Day is for the Goyim, except a lot less commercial.  An Auspicious day to Wed or otherwise engage in the pursuit of 'love'.  Judaism  is full of so much emotion ...  in fact all of the emotions reside in our neshamot, because that is what Ha'Shem has breathed into us Jews & why we 'feel' especially deeply.

Today is a festival of Hope after much Hurt, especially in the month of Av itself. It is the half way point in the month, and the point  of the month where Din becomes Rachamim with Ha'Shem in his interactions with us in preparation for Elul & the Days of Awe .  And kinda like the weekly Parashat reflects real life I find I am living through the Parsha this week too,  so I thought I would post something.  A Shuir that blew me away and some comments on the time ~ the week (6 Days actually) between Tisha and Tu B'Av.  The Saddest Day of the Jewish year and what Talmud calls  one of the greatest festivals of the year!   May Ha'Shem bring Healing to those Hurting today, especially in matters of the Heart.

Beginning with Tu B'Av, we start preparing ourselves spiritually for the month of Elul, the prologue to the coming Days of Awe. The days begin to get shorter, the nights get longer. The weather, too, helps us to take spiritual stock ...  the hectic days of the harvest are over and the pace of life slows, allowing for introspection & preparation for the high holidays to come.  Rosh Hashanah is just one month away .... and our king Ha'Shem walks among his people in the field next month, B"H.

 The Talmud goes on to list several joyous events which occurred on the 15th day of the month of Av ~ Tu Be'Av!

   1) The dying of the generation of the Exodus ceased.
 Several months after the people of Israel were freed from Egyptian slavery, the incident of the "Spies" demonstrated their unpreparedness for the task of conquering the land of Canaan and developing it as the "Holy Land." Ha'Shem decreed that that entire generation would die out in the desert, and that their children would enter the land in their stead (as recounted in Bamidbar 13 and 14). After 40 years of wandering through the wilderness, the dying finally ended, and a new generation of Jews stood ready to enter Eretz Yisrael. It was the 15th day of Av of the year 2487 from creation (1274 BCE). As long as members of this doomed generation were still alive, Ha'Shem didn't communicate with Moshe. As soon as the last of these men died, once again Ha'Shem lovingly communicated with Moshe.  

But in fact Ha'Shem demonstrated that it was Tu B'Av that was the turning point from Judgement (Din) to Compassion (Rachamim) when He annulled the final years deaths .... That last year, the last 15,000 people got ready to die.   Ha'Shem, in His mercy, decided not to have that last group die, considering all the troubles they had gone through. Now, when the ninth of Av approached, all the members of the group got ready to die, but nothing happened. They then decided that they might have been wrong about the date, so they waited another day, and another...  Finally on the 15th of Av, when the full moon appeared, they realized definitely that the ninth of Av had come and gone, and that they were still alive. Then it was clear to them that Ha'Shems decree was over, and that He had finally forgiven the people for the "Sin of the Spies"!

2) The tribes of Israel were permitted to intermarry among the Jewish Tribes.

In order to ensure the orderly division of the Holy Land between the twelve tribes of Israel, restrictions had been placed on marriages between members of two different tribes. A woman who had inherited tribal lands from her father was forbidden to marry out of her tribe, lest her children ~ members of their father's tribe ~ cause the transfer of land from one tribe to another by inheriting her estate (as recounted in Bamidbar 36). This ordinance was binding on the generation that conquered and settled the Holy Land; when the restriction was lifted, on the 15th of Av, the event was considered a cause for celebration and festivity.

3) The tribe of Benjamin was permitted to enter the community.

Av 15th was also the day on which the tribe of Benjamin, which had been excommunicated for its behaviour in the incident of the "Concubine at Givah," was readmitted into the community of Israel (as related in Shoftim 19-21 ... this occurred during the judgeship of Othniel ben Knaz, who led the people of Israel in the years 2533-2573 from creation (1228-1188 BCE)).

4) Hosea ben Eilah opened the roads to Jerusalem.

Upon the division of the Holy Land into two kingdoms following the death of King Solomon in the year 2964 from creation (797 BCE), Jeroboam ben Nebat, ruler of the breakaway Northern Kingdom of Israel, set up roadblocks to prevent his citizens from making the thrice-yearly pilgrimage to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judea. These were finally removed more than 200 years later by Hosea ben Eilah, the last king of the Northern Kingdom, on Av 15, 3187 (574 BCE).

5) The dead of Betar were allowed to be buried.

The fortress of Betar was the last holdout of the Bar Kochba rebellion. When Betar fell on the 9th of Av, 3893 (133 CE), Bar Kochba and many thousands of Jews were killed. The Romans massacred the survivors of the battle with great cruelty and would not even allow the Jews to bury their dead. When the dead of Betar were finally brought to burial on Av 15th, 3908 (148 CE), an additional blessing (HaTov VehaMeitiv) was added to the "Grace After Meals" in commemoration.

6) "The day of the breaking of the axe."

When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, the annual cutting of firewood for the altar was concluded on the 15th of Av. The event was celebrated with feasting and rejoicing (as is the custom upon the conclusion of a holy endeavor) and included a ceremonial breaking of the axes which gave the day its name.

This is a direct counterpoise to the 5 Tragedies which befell Am Yisrael on Tisha B'Av ~ the 9th day of Av .... Tu B'Av 
is the polar opposite of Tisha B'Av ~  there is no darker eclipse than that preceding this full moon!

“Comfort My people, comfort My people, says your G-d.
Console Jerusalem and cry to her that her transgression is appeased…
You that bring good tidings to Zion, get yourself up into the high mountain;
You that bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength; ‘
Lift it up, be not afraid ~
Say to the cities of Judah, ‘behold your G-d!’”

~ Yeshayahu, Chapter 40 ~

Tisha B'Av
,  The "ninth day"  in the Jewish month of Av, which starts at sundown on the eighth day and concludes at sundown on the ninth day of Av is the day when the intensity of the entire 'three weeks' mourning period reaches its peak, and a day when tragedy has befallen B'nei Yisroel.

According to our Sages, many tragic events occurred to our ancestors on this day ..... 

    1) The 'sin of the spies' caused Ha'Shem to decree that the Children of Israel who left Egypt would not be permitted to enter the land of Israel.

    2) The first Temple was destroyed in
586 BCE (Jewish year 3338)  by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. Am Yisrael were sent into what later became known as the Babylonian Exile.

    3)  The second Temple was destroyed in
70 CE (3830)  destroyed by the Romans,  led by Titus.

    4) Betar,  the last fortress to hold out against the Romans during the Bar Kochba revolt in the year 135 CE (3895),  fell,  sealing the fate of the Jewish people.  
Bar Kochba himself was killed along with more than 100,000 other Jews.  The Roman Emperor Hadrian turned Jerusalem into a Roman city. and renames the Holy Land ‘Palestina’ !!!

    5) One year after the fall of Betar, the Temple area was ploughed.

In 1290 (5050), King Edward I of England signed an edict expelling all Jews from England.

     7)  In 1492 (5252),  King Ferdinand of Spain issued the expulsion decree,
'The Alhambra Decree'  setting Tisha B'Av as the final date by which not a single Jew would be allowed to walk on Spanish soil.    

    8) World War I which began the downward slide to the Holocaust began on Tisha B’av in 1918 (5678).
    9)  The beginning of the deportation of Jews from Warsaw to the Treblinka Death Camp. The SS purposely began this action on Tisha B'Av in 1942  (5702)  and Nazis begin deporting Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto in the same year.

    10)  The Expulsion of 9,000 Jews from their homes in Gush Katif to allow the savage enemy arabs to occupy our land in Gaza & use it as a launching pad for Rockets to Rain on Eretz Yisrael began on Tisha B'Av.

Also, could be added  the Hebron massacre of Jews in 1929 & the expulsion of the Jews from France in 1306.  Adds up to a very hefty series of tragedies!!

Our Sages teach that whoever mourns over Jerusalem will merit the future vision of her joy. As it is written in Yeshayahu (Chapter 66, pasuk 10), "rejoice greatly with her, all who mourn her."

"Whoever Mourns for Jerusalem will be Meritorious and will see it's Rejoicing ... and All who do not Mourn for Jerusalem will not see it's Rejoicing".

~ Talmud, Taanit 30b ~

On Tisha B'Av, we express the hope that "Mashiach" who, according to Jewish Tradition, will be born on Tisha B'Av,  is indeed already in the world and that the next Tisha B'Av will be celebrated as a joyous "Moed" in Y'rushalayim, in the courtyards of the Third Beit HaMikdash.  According to the Rambam, it is  Mashiach who will lead the Jewish People in the building of the Third Beit HaMikdash, that is never to be destroyed.

All of the Prophets prophesied concerning the
“Acharit HaYamim,” the “End-of-Days,”   Yeshayahu perhaps most beautifully .....

“And it shall come to pass in the End-of-Days,
That the mountain of the House of Ha'Shem shall be established
As the tops of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow into it.”

“And many peoples shall go and say:
’Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the L-rd,
To the house of the G-d of Yaakov;
And He will teach us of His ways.
We shall go in His paths,
For out of Zion shall Torah come forth,
And the word of the L-rd from Y'rushalayim.”

Yeshayahu (2:2-3)

and also,

“Even them will I bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer;
Their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices
Shall be acceptable upon My altar;
For My house shall be called
A house of prayer for all peoples.”

Yeshayahu (56:7)

This Shuir was Inspirational to me .... It made me Cry! 

Shuir ~ Finding Ha'Shem in these Days of Difficulty from Tisha B'Av to Tu B'Av ~ Where is He?


  1. I'm not sure I agree with you about Tu b'Av being less commercialized than St. Valentine's Day. I look in the papers and I see all sorts of gifts, romantic weekend breaks, and so on and so forth, advertised for Tu b'Av and, which is far worse, many articles advertising things like sexy underwear, giving advice about sexual relations especially "in honour" of Tu b'Av and, in short, not only commercializing the holiday but turning it into a Festival of Sex, rather than a Festival of Love (just as the goyim have done with St. Valentine's Day, in fact).

  2. You're not wrong, Shimona. I don't disagree at all, really. I'm fuzzled at being bombarded with underwear advertising online all day yesterday. Every screen change ... some Jewish companies advertising in Ivrit. I was quite aghast!

    I was trying to convey that it hadn't reached the same levels of commercial exploitation, and I do believe that EY is looking more towards observance these days, so I am hopeful of a 'trend' in that direction re the understanding and Mitzvoh associated with ALL our Chagim!