translation of a discourse by
the Lubavitcher Rebbe,
The Fifteenth of Av 5743-1983
by Rabbi David Rothschild
I. Descent's Ascent
II. Hate on the House
Jerusalem's Real Meaning
Part I. Descent's Ascent
I. Descent's Ascent
Mishna states, "Israel had no holidays as the Fifteenth of Av (Tu B'Av) and
Yom Kippur." Chassidus quotes the famous Kabbalistic text, The Tree of Life,
to describe its greatness: "On the fifteenth of the month, the moon is complete."
This explanation, though, doesn't suffice. Since the Mishna says, "Israel
had no holidays as
," Passover and Succoth are likewise excluded, even
though they also fall on the fifteenth: Passover begins on the fifteenth of Nisan
and Succoth starts on the fifteenth of Tishrei. The question, then, remains unanswered.
What is the unique quality of the Fifteenth of Av?
Chassidus explains that
the uniqueness of Tu B'Av's full moon is that it comes on the heels of a prior,
drastic decline, namely, that of the Ninth of Av. Many terrible calamities befell
the Jewish people on this date, predominantly, the destruction of the First and
Second Temples in Jerusalem.
A general principle applies to matters of Divinity.
Every descent has a hidden purpose: a subsequent elevation. This rule also applies
to the Ninth of Av. It embodies the ultimate downfall; its tragedies are unequalled
throughout history. Consequently, the extent of its elevation must match its severe
decline. That's why the Mishna says, "Israel had no holidays as Tu B'Av;"
for it manifests the revelation of the Future Era.
The Mishna continues, "Because on Tu B'Av the daughters
of Jerusalem and Israel went into the vineyards dancing and said, 'Young man,
please lift up your eyes and behold.'" "Daughters of Jerusalem"
refer to the souls of Israel, called "the Congregation of Israel" in
Kabbala. This follows a Kabbalistic rule that all matters of the physical world
derive from a higher spiritual source. "Young man, please lift up your eyes"
hints to G-d, allegorized by King Solomon as "a young man as choice as the
cedars." (Song of Songs 58:15)
G-d calls the Congregation of Israel "My
sister, my love, my dove, my virgin." (Song of Songs 8:2) When boy meets
girl in the vineyard, G-d and Jewish souls are united. This union will be consummated
in the Future Era, as the Midrash states, "Today, the bonding of G-d with
Jewish souls resembles an engagement. But in the Future Era it will be as a wedding."
"Israel had no holidays as the Fifteenth of Av"
thus suggests the ascent that will occur in the Future Era, following the enormous
decline of the Ninth of Av.
"Because on Tu B'Av the daughters of Jerusalem
and Israel went out into the vineyards dancing and said, 'Young man, please lift
up your eyes and behold'" allegorizes the unification of G-d with the Congregation
of Israel, which, in the Future Era will be expressed as a marriage.
Hate on the House
hatred was the principal cause for the downfall, exile and devastation of the
Ninth of Av. It's known that the graver destruction was that of the Second Temple.
The Ari writes in The Tree of Life, "The position and condition of the attribute
of Kingship (Malchut) was higher when the Jews were in Babylon [to where they
were exiled following the destruction of the First Temple] than it was during
the Second Temple Era." Following the Second Temple's destruction, Kingship's
condition obviously worsened much more. While the Ninth of Av commemorates both
Temples' demise, the latter's represents greater ruin.
Zohar also draws this
distinction, quoting from Job, "The river is parched and dries up."
(Job 14:11) Zohar writes, "'parched' refers to the First Temple, and 'dries
up' to the Second Temple. Drying up signifies a worse condition than parched."
Kabbala and Zohar thus describe the nature of the Second Temple's ruin, but
"Why," the Sages asked, "was the Second Temple destroyed?"
They answered, "Gratuitous hate was the cause."
Chassidus utilizes their answer to elucidate another Talmudic
statement. Regarding the Second Temple the Sages said, "The last generations'
transgressions weren't out in the open. Similarly, the termination of their exile
won't be revealed."
How does Chassidus link these two assertions? Second
Temple Jews practiced gratuitous hatred. And that hatred was hidden.
is the modus operandi of gratuitous hate? It is enclothed within a cosmetic rationalization
- an invented "cover story." To the observer, the individual's hatred
appears to be justified. The cover story, after all, explains why the person hates:
"It's the other fellow's fault; he triggered my disdain; now, I can't stand
Since gratuitous hate brought
about the Ninth of Av's downfall, its rectification must be unconditional love.
Therefore, love of one's fellow Jew must be particularly emphasized in the aftermath
of the Temple's destruction. This is especially pertinent during these last days
of exile, which Zohar calls "the Heels of the Messiah, when darkness is doubled
anticipates the Messiah, who will arrive as a result of Jewish unity. We recite
this tenet thrice daily in our prayers, "Bless us, our Father, all of us
as one, with the light of Your countenance." Display of "Your countenance"
is contingent on our unity "as one." "Light of Your countenance"
refers to the revelation of the righteous Messiah. King David said in Psalms,
"Through Your light, we will see light." (Psalms 36:10) A Midrash elaborates,
"Which light does the Congregation of Israel look forward to? They wait for
the light of the Messiah."
III. Hebrew Harmony
"The daughters of Jerusalem and Israel went out
into the vineyards dancing and said, 'Young man, please lift up your eyes and
behold.'" "Daughters of Jerusalem" allude to a sublime aspect of
the soul, which Solomon identified as "a spring of gardens, a well of living
waters." (Song of Songs 4:15) Tanya writes of the soul's source, "verily
a portion of G-d above."
Jerusalem's Real Meaning
Why does the Mishna specify the daughters of Jerusalem? It hints to the
awe of G-d that prevails among Jewish souls. Jerusalem is a compound of two Hebrew
words: awe (yeru) and complete (shalem), connoting consummate awe.
their source, souls are exposed to G-d's Infinite Light. This produces the epitome
of awe. And from that place, neighborly love and Jewish unity descend. They become
enclothed within the lesser aspects of the souls that inhabit bodies.
should the common origin of Jews bring about Jewish unity below? In that pristine
realm above, all the souls are in a state of perfect harmony and unite with each
other until they become a single entity. This standard of unity exceeds a lower
state described by Tanya, in which souls complement each other - similar to the
symbiotic relationship between the body's organs and limbs.
The Jerusalem Talmud discloses the secret behind the commandment,
"Love your fellow as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18) The Sages relate,
"Two Jewish individuals are akin to the right and left hands of a single
body." Chassidus draws from the verse, "You stand this day, all of you,
before the L-rd your G-d; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your
officers, with all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the stranger
that is in your camp, from the hewer of wood to the drawer of water." (Deuteronomy
29:9-10) Jewish souls in their sum stand as a single and complete entity.
As a result, the precondition of "as one" is fulfilled. That's why the
daughters of Jerusalem - Jewish souls - say, "Young man, please lift up your
eyes," asking that G-d bond Himself with the Congregation of Israel in the
Future Era's perfect unity.
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