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.
4. 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.
5. 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 !!!