Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rosh Chodesh MENACHEM AV


Tonight and tomorrow (1 August 2011), the Jewish world is celebrating its new month called MENACHEM AV. The month is mainly known under the name AV. 

The Jewish month of Av stands for plenty of tragedies throughout Jewish history and I am always glad when this month is over. The only thing I do during the month of Av is looking forward to Elul. 

It was during the month of Av when the First World War began. The same with Hitler's Final Solution turning into reality.

On the 9th of Av, we are commemorating the destruction of the two Temples. The first time by the Babylonians and the second time by the Romans. Not too long ago, we read the weekly portion of "Shlach Lecha" telling us about Moshe sending out the spies in order to explore the land of Canaan. The spies returned and spoke in a slanderous way about the promised land. The Israelites began to cry and G - d said that there is nothing to cry about but from now on, He will give the Jews a reason to cry on that day. 

Nevertheless, it is up to us turning the month of Av into something positive. It is said that Meshiach will be born in the month of Av. In the times of the future Third Temple, Tisha be'Av is going to turn into a joyous day and we don't need to fast anymore.

Mourning about the Temples on Tisha be'Av

Also on Rosh Chodesh Av we commemorate the Yahrzeit of Aharon HaCohen, Moshe's and Miriam's brother. The day when Aharon passed away is explicitly mentioned in the Torah and the question is why ? Wasn't Moshe much more important than his brother ?

It says in the Torah that when Aharon died, ALL Israelites started to cry. It doesn't say so after Moshe and Miriam died. It goes without saying that the Jews were in mourning when they lost Miriam and Moshe but apparently not all of them. Aharon HaCohen was known for his great activities causing peace between two people fighting. As soon as there was a quarrel, Aharon started his job as a negotiator between the two parties.

The month of Av reaches its mourning peak on the ninth day, on Tisha be'Av. The day has almost the same Halachot as Yom Kippur with the exception that we are allowed to work, cook, go shopping, etc. However, with Rosh Chodesh, we are entering the final mourning period before Tisha be'Av and thus we are keeping additional laws:

1. New clothes should not be purchased during the nine days before Tisha be'Av. However, you are allowed to buy non - leather shoes for Tisha be'Av.

2. One should refrain from doing laundry.

3. Meat and wine are only consumed on Shabbat. At least until Tisha be'Av.

Ashkenazi Jewry is already starting tomorrow: As a sign of mourning, one should refrain from taking showers. A Halacha which almost seems ridiculous when you are suffering through the Tel Aviv heat as I do. :-))) However, in order to enjoy Shabbat, we are allowed to shower on Friday before Shabbat comes in. 

Sephardi Jews only stop taking showers on Mozzaei Shabbat before Tisha be'Av. 

No parties or festivities. No cinema and no music.

This week, on 5th Av, we are commemorating the Yahrzeit  of one of the most famous Kabbalists, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the ARI.

The Shabbat before Tisha be'Av,  (6th August) is called "Shabbat Chazon".

According to the "Book of Creation" – Sefer Yetzirah", every Jewish month has its own tribe, letter, human organ, sense or horoscope.

The horoscope of the month of  Av is Leo, the letter is TED ט , the tribe is Shimon, the organ is the left kidney and the human sense is hearing. The latter comes from the spies when the Israelites heard their slander about the promised land. At the same moment when we hear something, we automatically differentiate between good and evil.

Although the month of Av looks like a very bad month, we should never stop praying for the arrival of Meshiach.


Chodesch Tov – חודש טוב and have a great successful and healthy new month !!!



  1. B'H

    Here is a well known Gemarah which explains one of the many reasons the name "Menachem" had been added to the word "Av":

    What is the name of the Moshiach? R. Joshua b. Levi said, "Tzemach is his name." R. Yudan son of R. Aybo said, "Menachem is his name." Said Hananiah son of R. Abahu, "They do not disagree. The Gematria of the
    letters of one name equals the Gematria of the other Tzemach [=138] is equal to Menachem [=138]." And this story supports the view of R. Yudan son of R. Aybo: Once a Jew was plowing and his ox snorted once before him. An Arab who was passing and heard the sound said to him, "Jew, Jew. Lossen your ox, and loosen your plow [and stop plowing]. For today (Tisha B'Av) your Temple was destroyed." The ox snorted again. He [the Arab] said to him, "Jew, Jew. Bind your ox, and bind your plow. For today (Tisha B'Av) the Melech HaMoshiach was born." He said to him, "What is his name? [The Arab replied,] "Menachem is his name." He said to him, "And what is his father's name?" He [the Arab] said to him, "Chizkiyahu." He said to him, "Where is he from?" He said to him, "From the royal capital of Bethlehem in Judea."'
    (Talmud Yerushalmi Berakhot 2:3)

    Since the day the Temple was destroyed, the potential for the coming of Moshiach came to exist, and since Menachem will be one of the name of the Messiah, it became customary to call that month not "Av", but "Menachem-Av", so that we should keep in mind that this was precisely because the second Temple was destroyed that now can be sure that Moshiach (whose name is "Menachem") will fulfill the prophecy of Yechezkel HaNavi to build the third Temple.

    This is one reasons among others.

  2. B"H

    Is this a Gemara from the Yerushalmi only or do you have a source in the Bavli as well ?

  3. This Gemarah is only to be found in the Yerushalmi. But, it is also reported in the Midrash Eicha with exact same details. The Bavli also tells us that Moshiach was born the day the Temple was destroyed, but does not mention the dialogue with the Arab not does it say that "Menachem is his name." In the Midrash Bereshis, it is alos said that Moshiach was born on Tisha B'Av, but as the Bavli, it does not mention the dialogue with the Arab not does it say that "Menachem is his name."

    The Gemarah, in Sanhedrin 98b says:

    What is his [the Messiah's] name? — The School of R. Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until Shiloh come. The School of R. Yannai said: His name is Yinnon, for it is written, His name shall endure for ever: e'er the sun was, his name is Yinnon. The School of R. Haninah maintained: His name is Haninah, as it is written, Where I will not give you Haninah. Others say: His name is Menachem the son of Chizkiyahu, for it is written, Because Menachem ['the comforter'], that would relieve my soul, is far.

    The fact that this Gemarah in the Bavli mentions "His name is Menachem the son of Chizkiyahu" as in the story with the Arab in the Yerushalmi, and that it is said "Others say" (and not "The school of Rabbi such and such says"), is seen by many as being the opinion of the Sages: Moshiach's name will be Menachem.

    But there is a machlokes concerning that Gemarah and the teaching that Moshiach's name will be Menachem: should it be taken litteraly, or is it a metaphora to teach us that one of the role of the Messiah will be to comfort us?

    For instance, the Vilna gaon takes it litteraly, while the Maharal takes it metaphoricaly.

    The Vilna Gaon in KOL ELIYAHU points out that the first letters of the four names attributed here to Moshiach spell the word "Moshiach" (M for Menachem, Sh for Shiloh, Y for Yannai, Ch for Chaninah). He might mean that the actual name of Moshiach is Menachem, and he is the son (descendant) of Chizkiyah, the king of Yehudah who was nearly proclaimed to be the Moshiach (see Sanhedrin 94a). The students of these three Yeshivos said that their teachers manifest a certain aspect of Moshiach, since there are allusions in the verses to these names as being names of the Moshiach, and since the word "Moshiach" includes the first letter of their mentor's name, and the first letter of the name is the main part of the name, which alludes to the qualities of the person. But the Sages are of the opinion that his name is Menachem.

    The Maharal (in Netzach Yisrael, ch. 41) explains that the Moshiach's outstanding quality will be that he is not limited to any particular quality. Rather, his personality will encompass all of the positive qualities that appear in the Jewish people. This would correspond to the prayer of Moshe Rabbeinu that the leader whom Hashem appoints over the nation after him should be able to lead the nation according to the needs and the personality of each individual in the nation (Rashi to Bamidbar 27:16). So according to that opinion, "menachem" (comforter) is more a metaphora than tyhe litteral name of the Messiah. But any way, the Sages chose to take Menachem and added it to the name "Av".