Today is Rosh Chodesh Tammuz. Unfortunately, this day makes my wife sad.
She looks at her calendar and all she sees is the looming 3 Weeks from the 17th of Tammuz until Tisha B’Av.
So the I’m writing this article to cheer her up.
When I want a deeper understanding of the Jewish months I delve into Seasons of Life – The Reflection of the Jewish Year in the Natural World by Rabbi Natan Slifkin.
I was confident that he would point out the many positive aspects of Chodesh Tammuz.
I was wrong.
The name Tamuz itself means “heat.” The blazing sun often raises the temperature to as much as 35C. Being outdoors for extended periods can be dangerous; precious body fluid is lost to the heat, leading to dehydration.
Then he lists the tragedies that occurred on the 17th of Tammuz through Jewish history:
- Moshe broke the tablets when he came down from Har Sinai
- the daily burnt offering was suspended
- the walls of Jerusalem were breached by Titus
- Apostemus (a Roman commander) burned a Torah scroll
- an idol was erected in the Sanctuary of the Temple
Also, as is well known, on Tisha B’Av 5 tragedies befell the Jewish people.
The months of Tammuz and Av are a time of disconnect between the Jewish people and God.
One of the symbols of a proper relationship between heaven and earth is rain.
As Rav Slifkin writes:
When we turn away from Hashem, He prevents the rain from falling. The desired effect is to encourage our return to Him through fasting and prayer. In fact, the Talmudic tractate Ta’anis, which deals with fast days, does not center on the fasts of Yom Kippur and Tishah B’Av, as one might expect. These are left for the end. The main focus of the tractate is on fast days that have been instituted because of a lack of rain.
The essence of a fast day is to reestablish our connection with Hashem, the breakage of which is signified by lack of rain. A fast day is to be occupied with repentance and prayer, expressing a desire to relate to Hashem and to redress our former lack of communication.
It’s hard to find a good side to this time of year on the Jewish calendar.
In that sense, my purpose for writing this article failed.
However, it’s only when we begin to understand the problem that we can begin to find a solution.