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The Month of Tammuz -- Summertime Blues?

06/09/2021 11:36:08 AM


Being in tune with the Jewish calendar, we know that summertime is not the relaxed vacation time we enjoy.   Here’s a rundown of the tough times we commemorate:


  1. Rosh Chodesh Tammuz (6/10-11):  Hearing complaints, seeing doubt and a crisis of faith in the People of Israel as they come within three days of entering the Promised Land, Moses agrees reluctantly to send twelve scouts to check out the Land of Israel.  They bring back a report of a country overrun with gigantic warriors and cause a rebellion that delays the entry into the Promised Land by a generation.
  2. Fast Day of the 17th of Tammuz (6/27):  The Israelites, panic-stricken by Moses' delay on Sinai, build the Golden Calf.  Moses smashes the Tablets of the Covenant.  The walls of Jerusalem are breached by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, beginning the destruction of the First Temple and the Babylonian exile.
  3. The Three Weeks “Between the Walls,” 6/27-7/18: Three weeks where we refrain from parties, weddings and festivities, recalling the terrible siege of Jerusalem and the millennia of exile.  Many Jews refrain from eating meat during this period and reduce festivities even further.
  4. Rosh Chodesh Av and the Nine Days (7/10-17): The disastrous end of the siege leading up to the burning of the Temple and captivity of Israel, first in Babylonia and then, 400 years later, throughout the Roman Empire and the world.  
  5. Fast Day of the 9th of Av (7/18): Anniversary of the return of the spies and the abandonment by the people of Israel of the Promised Land.  Both Temples were destroyed on this day and it was the beginning of virtually every disaster throughout Jewish history from the Spanish expulsion (1492) to the Holocaust.


Yoicks.  Bad after bad….  Not a great summer schedule!  Between periods of mourning, semi-mourning and fasting, there isn’t too much time for beach parties or (kosher) luaus! 


But did it have to be this way?  Look back at #1.  Every misfortune, every disaster, every dream deferred goes back to the red highlighted phrase  That moment of hesitation, weakening of confidence and faith and loss of momentum cost us dearly, not only 2,500 years ago, but ever since.  


Just imagine what might have been had we gone straight into the land from Sinai.  The Canaanites would not have fought us as invaders, but welcomed us as teachers and mentors.  The Temple would have been built not hundreds of years later by Solomon and David, but by Moses.  There would have been no destruction, no exile.  Instead, G-d’s Presence would have radiated out from Jerusalem inspiring peace, love, human unity and a return to the Garden of Eden’s pristine purity and spirituality.


Hidden in the heart of the dark days of heat in Judaism is a tiny light not only of what might have been, but of what still can be.  Tammuz is not only the month of destruction; it was meant to be the month of redemption, the month of illumination.  It is the month of the wheat harvest, followed in Av by the grape harvest.  There is a secret tradition that the Ninth of Av, the day of destruction, is also the future birthday of the Mashiach.  The secret is in being joyfully, fully, proudly Jewish; creating a community infused with optimism, friendship and connection.  Rosh Chodesh Sameach!


Thu, June 20 2024 14 Sivan 5784