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Tuesday
Aug012017

15 AV: A LESSON IN EDUCATION

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

We are approaching the 15th of Menachem-Av. The Mishna in Meseches Taanis tells us: “Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: There were no days more joyous than the 15th of Av (Tu B’Av) and Yom Kippur.”

There are many reasons given for the uniqueness of the 15th of Av.

For forty years, every Tisha B’Av night, the Jews made graves for themselves in which they slept on Tisha B’Av; every year a proportion of them died. In the 40th year, the last of the generation of the sin of the spies, which had been forbidden to enter the Promised Land, found that they were not destined to die. The fifteen thousand who had remained from the first generation went to sleep in the graves and woke up the next day to their surprise. Thinking they made a mistake with the date, they did this until they reached Tu B’Av. Only then were they certain that they were destined to live.

While the Jews wandered in the desert for forty years, female orphans without brothers could only marry within their tribe, to prevent their father’s inherited portion in the Land of Israel from passing on to other tribes. On the fifteenth of Av of the fortieth year, this ban was lifted.

The Tribe of Benyamin was allowed to intermarry with the other tribes after the incident of the pilegesh begivah (see Shoftim Chapters 19–21) on Tu B’Av.

The cutting of the wood for the main altar in the Beis HaMikdash was completed for the year on this date.

The nights, traditionally the ideal time for Torah study, are lengthened again after the summer solstice, permitting more study.

The Roman occupiers permitted burial of the victims of the massacre at Beitar during the Bar Kochba rebellion on the 15th of Av. Miraculously, the bodies had not decomposed, despite exposure to the elements for over a year.

In the HaYom Yom of 15 Av, the Rebbe writes: “From my father’s notes: The superior quality of 15 Av over the fifteenth of every other month is this: The fifteenth represents the visible completeness (of the moon), but (the moon) is still only a recipient (of light). However, on 15 Av the light is firmly fixed in it, for the ascent is in reverse proportion to the drastic descent of Tisha B’Av…

“This then is the meaning of ‘The sun’s power is weakened’ (on 15 Av after its summer intensity). The idolaters calculate their calendar by the sun of evil, which on the 15th is weakened… In the days of the Sanctuary they (the nations) were subservient to Shlomo (King Solomon); certainly it shall be so in the Time to Come when “(the nations) will flow to Him” in a state of total bittul (nullification), and ‘I will remove the spirit of impurity etc.’ A token of this is expressed on the 15th of Av when the sun is weakened…”

On 13 Av 5739, the Rebbe spoke at a rally to children who were attending Jewish camps. He spoke of a fascinating lesson that we can teach the children from the fact that the “nights start getting longer” beginning on the 15th of Av. As mentioned earlier, since the nights are longer, and in the times of the Beis HaMikdash in an agricultural society people would finish their work day when the sun would set, that meant that there was more time for them to learn Torah.

Every child knows the power of the sun. It brings light and many other gifts to the world. So it would seem that the longer that the sun is shining in the world, the better it is for the world. Yet, Hashem orchestrates the events of nature and creation to cause the sun’s light to be diminished, so that a Yid can learn more Torah. A child realizes that the value of his or her learning Torah is so special and great that it is worth diminishing the light and rays of the sun for it.

Then the child understands a deeper point. It is not only that Hashem is sacrificing the benefits that we receive from the sun, so that the child should learn Torah; the sun is receiving its life and existence through the Torah learning of the child. The entire creation is dependent on the learning of the Jewish people in general and children in particular.

The power of the Torah learning of Jewish children can be seen in the Halacha in Rambam, in the law of Beis HaBechira (1:12) that we all learned during the Three Weeks: “Everyone is obligated to build and to assist both personally and financially; [both] men and women, as in the [construction of the] Sanctuary in the desert. [Nevertheless,] children are not to be interrupted from their [Torah] studies.

In a sicha (20 Av 5736) the Rebbe explains the reasoning behind the Halacha: In order for the Beis HaMikdash to be built, there needs to be peace in the world. The peace and stability of the world is dependent of the learning of Jewish children. As the Pasuk says (T’hillim 8:3): “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have established strength because of Your adversaries, in order to put an end to enemy and avenger.”

This realization, that Hashem orchestrates everything in nature so that the child can add in his learning of the Torah, should inspire the child to add, not just in his learning, but in all aspects of his Yiddishkait.

The Rebbe describes an amazing example: The child should imagine being invited by the President of United States to the White House. The President sets up the entire White House in a way that would make the child extra comfortable. In such a setting, even though the child has his inner desires, he will make sure to hold back all his childish desires and act in the most befitting manner. The child should now realize that Hashem has “invited him” to the world, His personal palace, and set up the entire creation in a way that makes him extra comfortable. If so, the child should always be on his best behavior.

In the year 5751, the 15th of Av fell out on a Friday (of Shabbos VaEschanan). That weekend, there was a Kinus HaShluchim that took place in Russia. It was just after the official fall of communism so this was extra special and significant. After all the years of Chassidim living with Mesiras Nefesh in Russia to live and spread Yiddishkait, it could now be celebrated openly. It was like we quoted from the HaYom Yom: “Certainly it shall be so in the Time-to-Come when ‘(the nations) will flow to Him’ in a state of total bittul (nullification), and ‘I will remove the spirit of impurity etc.’”

It is appropriate to point out that this year, 5777, the Shluchim across the former USSR and around also held a special Kinus. They were able to fulfill certain directives that the Rebbe had given the organizers in 5751, which they had not been able to be fulfill at the time. It was truly the closing of a circle and the culmination of the original event.

The Rebbe spoke very passionately about this event. The following is part of that Sicha.

“Among the wonders there is also a wonder that has occurred in these last few days: A gathering of Chassidim and emissaries in Russia! People gathered from various places and countries in the city of Lubavitch, with the intention, among other things, to make a pilgrimage to the holy resting places of our Rebbes and leaders there, including the holy graveside of my father, master and teacher, of blessed memory (whose yahrtzait is the 20th of Av, a day blessed from this Sabbath).

“Additionally, they will be convening in Moscow, the capital of Russia, to discuss and consult with one another (‘Each man will assist his fellow,’ imbued with the spirit of love and unity, ‘as one person with one heart’), and to pass resolutions to increase with greater intensity and vigor in the dissemination of Torah and Judaism and the wellsprings of Torah to the farthest reaches of that country and the entire world. May it be G-d’s will that the convention should be blessed with outstanding success, endowed with an exponential increase of infinite proportions.

“That this country, that waged an incessant struggle against the activities of my sainted father-in-law, the leader of this generation (as well as the activities of my father, whose yahrtzait is the 20th of Av), to disseminate Torah and the wellsprings of Torah, should now host and honor his disciples and emissaries and those who follow in his path in the dissemination of Torah and the wellsprings of Torah to the remotest reaches, must be classified as a wonder.”

These wonders arouse us and underscore that imminently we will see the greatest wonder, the true and complete Redemption, “As in the days of your departure from Egypt I will show him wonders.” This will be a wonder even in comparison with the events of the Exodus from Egypt!

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com

 

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