Each month has a divine intention that is there for us to reflect, grow and heal.
Read or listen on the month of Av
Av is a very heated and intense month. The first half of Av is somber and heavy. Then comes the full moon, and there is a joyous love that is rekindled all around us. The first 9 days of Av is preparing us for the saddest day of the year, Tisha Ba’av. This day commemorates the loss of the first and second temples and the long history of destruction and expulsions that have taken place on this very day.
But What are these 9 days all about?
A time to slow down and reflect inward upon what’s missing in our lives. We are very much in exile and the pain is real. It is time to focus on the lack of harmony and divine presence that we once had when we had the Beit Hamikdash. It was our holy temple of divine dwelling, and now we sit in its emptiness.
What is the true essence of the temple?
The Beit Hamikdash was not only a temple of service, it was our deepest spiritual connection to God's divine presence in our physical world. It was the foundation where the physical and spiritual entities could live together in harmony.
Without the flow of this divine energy, we are missing a true sense of unity and love among the community of our people.
On Tisha Ba’Av we do not eat, we are not to be social with others, there is no singing in prayer, and we sit on the floor as if we are mourning a lost family member. The fact that we are still grieving the loss of our temple after thousands of years is an incredible moment in time to witness and take part in. It shows the strength of our people and it shows a deep yearning to return to that place of service and unity.
The yearning to be whole again allows us to recognize that from darkness, a new light is always born.
Throughout history, our ancestors endured countless tragedies that to this day we still carry the pain and sorrow with us. Av is a time that allows us to embrace this pain and cradle it close to our hearts. This is the time to be present with our feelings and find wholeness in the state of being broken. It tells us that it is okay to mourn what is missing in our lives and what we lack.
It is said that God hand-picked each of us to have specific losses and short-fallings in our lives. We are meant to pray about it these personal things. When we cry out to God, our tears open the gates of the heavens, and these prayers can heal that specific lack found in the rest of the world.
Take it a step further and thank God for what we lack. Feeling gratitude for our misfortunes not only humbles us but also propels us into a closer relationship with our creator.
The meaning of Av is Father. The essence of this month is remembering that like our Father, God is merciful and forgiving,
When we are crying about our misfortunes, deep down we are really crying because we feel a disconnection from God and that his presence is not yet realized by the world.
What we truly lack in all humanity is LOVE. We do not love each other as we should. We do not love ourselves as we should. There is hate and judgment all around us, and this is the real problem that we face.
The first day of Av (Rosh Chodesh), is the day Aharon Hakohen (the brother of Moses) left this world. It is said that the Jewish people cried for 30 days after his death. Aharon represented what it means to have peace in the home. He had a beautiful gift of bringing peace and harmony into relationships. The home is the heart of all things. That is where it all starts and is the first place to work on.
שלום - Shalom (peace) comes from the word שלם - Shalem which means wholeness. This is our mission in this world. To restore the fallen sparks, to bring peace, and to see the divine spark that lives inside each person.
It is important to note, that this is NOT something that we can chase. We must yearn for it, ask for it, and then make space for it to come. To really listen for it, and then to feel its presence within us. Then go share that peace with others.
This is a reminder that the light of God is within each of us and when we release our judgments of others, we make space to see and hear God within others. This is true unconditional Love- seeing the light in others no matter what they lack.
Loving all parts of ourselves and others is the key factor to experiencing wholeness and peace in this beautiful world.
The second half of Av actually does a complete 180 for us. Tu Ba’av ( the 15th of Av) is one of the happiest days of the year. Tu Ba’Av is about community and connecting outward.
It is recorded that every year on Tisha Ba’Av thousands of Jews would die during our wandering years in the desert. Legend has it that people would actually dig their own graves, expecting their death to come. On the 15th of Av ( in the year prior to entering the land of Israel, the deaths ceased to occur. The people thought they had miscalculated, but when they saw the full moon, they knew the curse had ended, and they rejoiced in the fact that they would live to enter the land of Israel.
In the times of the temple, on this full moon of Av, the woman would dress in white and dance before the men to find their true soul mates with one look in the eye.
The full moon is a special time. The high holiday of Sukkot and Passover fall on the 15th, but Tu Ba’Av is especially joyous because it follows a time of such hardship and sorrow. This quick shift from somber to joy reveals to us such a deep truth that we all hold in our hearts.
“Out of destruction comes Rebirth and Newness”
- Melinda Ribner
This is something that I always talk about in my art and in my paintings. It's the ebb and flow of life. From pain, comes pleasure. Pain takes us to a broken place inside of ourselves and from there we can do the real work to feel whole again. A seed must be buried in the ground in order to grow into a life-giving plant.
A lotus flower conveys this truth so beautifully as well. It grows from the dark murky waters. We must go through these dark times in order to become a beautiful flower. We must recognize the shadows within us and bring light to those dark places. From there we can look and listen to the message that is there for us to grow.
The Tribe of Av is characterized by the שמעון - Shimon. Shimon is the second son of Leah. Leah always felt unloved by Yaakov because he favored her sister Rachel. When she bore her second child Shimon, she said that God had heard her prayers that she felt hated by her husband and thus blessed her with a child. Like Reuven, Shimon carries on these painful feelings that his mother had in her heart when he was born. Shimon was known to be passionate, and although Shimon believed he was doing good, his fiery passion was not contained. He reacted emotionally without thinking, and he uses this fiery passion to defend his sister, by killing all the men of Shechem in the process. He was also the leader of the idea to throw the favored brother Yosef into a pit to die. It is as though he spent his life trying to defend himself from being born of a mother who felt unloved by his father.
It is no surprise that the element of AV is Fire
Fire is beautiful, but when not contained it can bring a whole lot of destruction.
The name שמעון is derived from the word לשמוע (shmo’a), which means to hear. The healing area of this month is through our hearing. (Remember last month was the healing of sight, and this month we take it further. Once we can see the truth clearly can we then quiet ourselves to hear the truth)
The first time hearing is mentioned in the Torah, is in the Garden of Eden, when Adam heard God say “Where are you??” It was after they had eaten from the forbidden tree. God obviously knew what happened and where they were, but this was God's cry saying I feel your distance and I want to be with you!
To feel close to someone means to listen to them.
Misunderstanding comes from a lack of listening, and only hearing what we want to hear. This month especially it is really important to not jump to conclusions and make any assumptions.
We must open our hearts andt listen to what is actually being said, often what we do not want to hear. When a child (or loved one) shares a pain, we must embrace them and really hear them. By doing this, we are accepting and understanding their pain. The pain is real and we all just want to be heard in this world. When one feels that we accept his pain, he doesn't always have to prove it.
Listening is about taking a step back and surrendering- that's all it is.
Through the experience of listening, we grow closer together.
The Astrological sign of Av is Leo, which is portrayed as a lion and is connected to fire and passion. Leos are known to be great leaders just as the lion is a leader of the jungle. This energy has the potential to be expressed in a great and mighty roar of illumination, but when not channeled correctly it can consume and wreak havoc.
The Letter of Av is symbolized by the ט (Tet). The shape of the letter is a vessel that curves back in on itself revealing that what is ultimately good is a hidden light that dwells within each person. This teaches us to look within ourselves to find a beautiful truth.
The numerical value of the letter is 9, reminding us of the 9 months of pregnancy. It is said that Tammuz is the wedding canopy ( resembling the ח - Chet )ֿ, Av is ט - the pregnancy, and Elul is the י (yud) and represents the birthing process.
The first time a letter appears in the Torah is the “headquarters” of the energy of that letter. The first time ט appears in the Torah is in the word טוב - Tov, meaning Good. From this, we understand that Av is ultimately Good. It is said that Moshiach ( Messiah) will be born on Tisha Ba’av. I like to believe that he/she has already been born and is maturing, like a slow brew in the oven still cooking. We are getting closer to the time that deep down we have all been waiting for. It is said in the Talmud that in the times of Massiah, all the pain of this month will be turned into joy.
טוב is also the 33rd word of the Torah, which is associated with Lag Baomer, when the disciples of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai ceased to die. It is a joyous holiday and marks the end of the mourning period in the counting of the Sfiirat Ha’Omer (the counting of the days spanning from Pesach to Shavuot).
Some more Practical Guidelines for this month are to focus and meditate on the feeling of divine light. It is still very much present in our world, it is just hidden and we need to listen for it. We can also visualize and meditate on the letter Tet. Listen to the divine presence in all of creation. Listen to the birds, listen to the sounds of creation, ect.
It is important to pay attention to the words as they are coming out of our mouths. Really hear them as they enter into the world. And if you like to journal like me, then pause and listen more in your writing and allow God to channel his words through you.
Another important thing is letting go of the ego!! This month it can be easy to let the ego take over but let's try to humble ourselves and be reminded that we do not always need to be right. Try not to judge or to speak bad about others. Practice seeing good in all of creation. Let us bring more Love into our hearts and into our relationships.
A real-life example would be, If I find myself feeling hate or annoyance toward people or things in my environment, it is a warning sign that I need to go take a few minutes and reconnect with myself. It means that I am not in a state of Love.
When I am in a state of Love, I accept others around me and the feelings that they are going through.
I'll end off on this important note:
If we can spiritually embody the temple within our desires and within our bodies, then we have a chance of bringing real transformation. Just like Hashem wants to dwell in the temple, so too do our souls want to dwell within a temple. Our bodies do not have souls- but actually, Our Souls Have Bodies.
Our bodies are the temple for our soul to dwell, so let's do our best to make it a dwelling space.
Have a meaningful and a beautiful Tu Ba'av!!