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A message on Tammuz and Av from Rav Rafi

Darkness Turns to Light 

With the start of our summer break, we are about to enter the two saddest months of the year. These are the months that commemorate the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, culminating with mourning of Tisha B’Av. If given the task of assigning levels of sadness to these two months, I would say that Av is more depressing than Tammuz. However, R’ Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov in his sefer בני יששכר says differently. What I am about to write is based on Kabbalah, and admittedly, I have limited knowledge of that area of Torah. I will explain it to the best of my ability, and it is based on what the בני יששכר writes in the first מאמר on the month of Tammuz.

 Hashem’s name (yud, keh, vav, keh) can be spelled 12 separate ways. When it is written regularly, it implies Hashem’s middah of rachamim. When it is written backwards, it shows Hashem’s middah of din. Each month of the year is connected to its own unique spelling of Hashem’s name. As expected, the month of Nissan corresponds to Hashem’s name written regularly. That is the month that we saw Hashem’s middah of rachamim the most. As I said earlier, if I would need to guess which month has Hashem’s name written backwards, I would have confidently said the month of Av. However, I would be wrong. The month of Tammuz is the month associated with Hashem’s name written backwards - הוה’’י, but the month of Av starts off backwards but ends forwards - הוי’’ה.

Why is that? 

When Hashem sent Moshe to Paroah to tell him to let the Jews go, Paroah responds by making the work harder for the Jews. Moshe goes back to Hashem and asks Him, why did you send me? It has only made things worse for the Jews. Hashem tells Moshe that he will soon see the geula. The Malbim says that from this we can see an extremely important concept. Sometimes things are so bad that they cannot get worse, and they need to improve. Rav Avrohom Pam (עטרה למלך page 135) says that this has happened throughout Jewish history. After the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdash, there was a feeling that Bar Kochva was Mashiach. After the Spanish Inquisition, the Arizal felt that Mashiach was imminent. After World War I, the Chafetz Chaim said that the time was ripe for the geulah. And finally, after World War II, there was a tremendous sense of the coming of Mashiach. We see this in another place in the Torah. If a person has tzaraas, he is impure. However, if he is completely covered in tzaraas, he is pure. The reason is that at that point, he cannot get any worse. He can only get better. And that is the start of the purification process.  

Why is this so? 

I would like to suggest that if things have not gotten so bad, we are still putting our hope and trust in ourselves and in the situation. We try different things thinking that this will work and solve all our problems. But we need to stop putting our faith in people and concepts and start putting our faith in Hashem. By letting things get worse and worse, we are compelled to turn back to Hashem. That is when things start to improve.  

Based on this concept, we can answer the original question. Things will get worse, but when they hit rock bottom, they will start to get better. In terms of the events of the months of Tammuz and Av, Av is worse. However, that itself is the reason for hope. Things get so bad, that there is no direction to go other than up. And that is why the month of Av starts off with Hashem’s name written backwards, but it concludes with Hashem’s name written the right way. Things will turn around. We just need to direct our attention to Hashem.  


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