Tisha B'av

Av, The Month of Tragedies

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Av, The Month of Tragedies

The sign of the Month of Av is Aryeh / Leo.

The lion is the king of the jungle. He brooks no opposition. The lion demands to rule alone. He represents pride - the collective noun for a group of lions is a 'pride' of lions.

Pride was the fatal flaw of the spies whom Moshe sent to investigate the Land of Israel. The spies returned on the ninth day of the month of Av.

Pride is rooted in the element of fire which seeks to rule at all costs. The spies' pride and their concern for maintaining their own ruling status distorted their vision of the Land.

If the spies erred in their perception, making self-fulfilling prophecies of doom, the Jewish People were also at fault by listening to their distorted report.

The month of Av is associated with the tribe of Shimon - from the same root in Hebrew as the word 'hearing.' Thus, Av is a propitious time to correct mistakes in regard to hearing - listening to lashon hara (gossip) and rechilus (slander).

Fraught as it is with tragedy, Av is the saddest time of the year for the Jewish People: On the same date that the spies returned and spoke evil about the Land of Israel, the First Temple was destroyed. It was on that same day, the ninth of Av, that the Second Temple was also destroyed. On the ninth of Av, the Romans destroyed Betar and massacred thousands of Jews. As the prophet Yirmiyahu predicted, Jerusalem was ploughed over - on the ninth of Av.

On the 9th of Av 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain. On the 9th of Av 1914 -The First World War began. The insubstantial peace that concluded this war was a direct cause of the Second World War in which the six million perished. The 9th of Av 1942 - The first killings started at Treblinka: "The first transport of 'deportees' left Malkinia on July 23, 1942, in the morning hours. It was loaded with Jews from the Warsaw ghetto. The train was made up of sixty closed cars, crowded with people. The car doors were locked from the outside, and the air apertures barred with barbed wire."

In the future, to that same degree that the ninth of Av has been a day of tragedy, it will be a day of great happiness. For on the 9th of Av, the Mashiach will be born from the tribe of Yehuda (whose symbol is the lion).

His coming will wipe the tear from every eye.


This article originally appeared in SEASONS OF THE MOON for Av 5756.

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