The Month of Av According to the Book of Formation

According to The Book of Formation (Sefer Yetzirah), each month of the Hebrew year has a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, a zodiac sign, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, a sense, and a controlling limb of the body that correspond to it.

The Hebrew month of Av (or Menachem-Av, the consoler of Av) is the fifth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.

The name Av literally means “father.” It derives from the root which means “to will” or “to desire.”

It is the month of the “low point” of the Jewish calendar (the 9th ofAv, the day of the sin of the spies and the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem) as well as the month of the “high point” of the Jewish calender (the 15th of Avthere are no happier days for Israel than the 15th of Av and Yom HaKippurim” (Mishnah Ta’anit 26:)–the day of finding one’s predestined soul-mate).

This accords with the teaching of our sages that “the Mashiach is born on the 9th of Av.” Relative to all other souls of Israel, the soul of Mashiach, who comes to redeem Israel from her state of (spiritual as well as physical) exile, is like a groom to his bride. After his birth on the 9th of Av he reveals himself to his bride and betroths her on the 15th of Av.

Letter:  (tet)
The letter tet, which resembles a womb, equals 9, corresponding to the 9 months of pregnancy. In the month of Av the 9 months are condensed and concentrated into 9 days, from Rosh Chodesh Av(the yahrtzeit of Aaron the high priest, whose name comes from the word “pregnant”) to the 9th of Av, the day, which as mentioned above is the birthday of Mashiach.
Zodiac Sign (mazal): Leo – Aryeh

The aryeh symbolizes the superrational power of Divine will (the meaning of the name Av, as mentioned above). The initial manifestation of G-d’s will to destroy (the Temple) was in truth purely for the sake of reconstructing (the Temple with all of its spiritual meaning and significance for Israel and the entire world) for eternity.

In the words of our sages (Yalkut ShimoniYermiyahu, 259 ): “The lion [Nevudchanetzar, who is referred to in the Bible as a lion–Yermiyahu 4:7] came on the month of the lion [Av] and destroyed the lion [the Temple, which is referred to in the Bible, especially with regard to the alter, as a lion], in order that the lion [G-d, of Whom is said ‘the lion roars, who shall not fear’–Amos 3:8] come on the month of the lion and rebuild the lion.”

This secret is also reflected in the numerical value of aryehAryeh in gematria = 216 = gevurah (“might”). Gevurah is the Divine power responsible for tzimtzum (contraction and diminution of Divine light and energy, as is said with regard to the beginning of Av: “When Aventers we diminish in joy” [Mishnah Ta’anit 26:]) and destruction. But 216 = 3 ? 72. 72 = chesed (“lovingkindness”), the Divine power which “builds” all of reality, as is said (Psalms 89:3): “the world is built with [by the power of] chesed.” Three times chesedcorresponds to the building of all three Temples, who are all contained and find their eternal consummation in the third Temple, to be built speedily in our days by Mashiach. For this reason the aryehappears to the right, in the place of chesed, in the Divine Chariot (Ezekiel 1:10).

Tribe of Israel: Shimon

The name Shimon comes from the word “to hear.” The sin of the spies on the 9th of Av entailed their speaking evil of the land of Israel and the people’s accepting–“hearing”–the evil tongue. Thus the general rectification of the month of Av is the rectification of hearing.

Shimon is the only tribe that Moses did not explicitly bless at the end of the Torah. This was due to his “frustration” with the tribe of Shimon because of their involvement (more than all the other tribes) in the sin of Pe’or (prostitution with foreign women, which resulted in idolatry). The name Shimon divides into two words which spell sham avon, “there is iniquity.”

In a certain sense, Moses (from the tribe of Levi) was most closely related (in spirit) to Shimon than to any other tribe. “Shimon and Leviare brothers” (Genesis 49:5) said our father Jacob in blessing his sons. The two together (Shimon leading his younger brother Levi) took revenge for the rape of their sister Dinah, and destroyed the entire city of Shechem.

In Kabbalah we are taught that the primary reincarnation of Moses is in Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, he who more than any other of the sages revealed the inner dimension of the Torah of Moses (in the Holy Zohar).

The “degeneration” of the power of Shimon leads to the destruction of the Temple. The rectification and elevation of that very power brings about the eternal reconstruction of the Temple.

The rectification of Shimon (the rectification of the sins and iniquities of Israel which brought to the destruction of the Temple in the month of Av, the month of Shimon) is by his clinging to the most essential attribute of Moses–humility. The word avon (“sin”) permutes to spell anav (“humble”) the unique term by which the Torah praises Moses (Numbers 12:3): “And the man Moses was very humble [anav], more than any other man on the face of the earth.” The name Shimon transforms (in the month of Av) from “there is iniquity” (sham avon) to “there is the humble one” (sham anav).

The ability of Shimon to so “metamorphasize” depends upon his inner sense of hearing. Moses addresses Israel with the most all-inclusive statement of the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4) : “Hear [shemah]  O’ Israel….” Moses speaks to Israel through the soul-root of Shimon. Inner hearing (derher in Yiddish) comes with the deep sense of humility in the soul.

Even though Moses did not explicitly bless Shimon, our sages teach us that he alluded to him in the first word of his blessing to Judah (Deuteronomy 33:7): “Hear [shemah] G-d the voice of Judah….” (This phrase complements the verse “Hear O’ Israel…”; in gematria, “Hear G-d the voice of Judah” = 602 = 7 ? 86 [Elokim, G-d], “Hear O’ Israel…” = 1118 = 13 ? 86).

In the division of the land of Israel to the twelve tribes, Shimoninherited his portion within the larger portion of Judah (this is the only instance that one tribe inherited its portion within another). When the two names Shimon and Judah are added together: 466 plus 30 = 496 = malchut (“kingdom”) Thus we learn that the malchut of Judah depends upon the “presence” and “partnership” of Shimon.

Judah corresponds to the month of Nissan and the sense of speech.Shimon corresponds to the month of Av (the first two letters and “sub-root” in Hebrew of the word aviv, the name in Torah for the month of Nissan) and the sense of hearing. Av is the 5th month fromNissan, whose letter is hei = 5.

The two senses of speaking and hearing are obviously a pair, just as in the sin of the people’s hearing (accepting) the “evil tongue” spoken by the spies, the sin of the 9th of Av.

Thus we conclude that the power of the month of Av (the month of [apparent] destruction) is to “hear” the message “spoken” by the month of Nissan (the month of redemption), and integrate the first and foremost power of Israel?leadership?into the consciousness of the Jewish people.

This is the secret of the “pregnancy” and “birth” of Mashiach (the quintessential leader of Israel) from the 1st of Av (the beginning of his 9 day pregnancy) to the 9th of Av (his birth). He then fully unites with the consciousness of the people, “in matrimony,” on the 15th ofAv.

Sense: Hearing

“To hear” in Hebrew means “to understand,” to fully integrate into one’s consciousness (into one’s heart, not only to understand intellectually in one’s mind). To hear another is to fully understand his dilemma and emphasize with him. Hearing is receiving–kabbalah(first revealed by Rabbi Shimeon Bar Yochai).

In the beginning of Isaiah (read on the Shabbat before the 9th ofAv), it says: “if you desire [tovu , from the word Av] and hear [the sense of Av], you shall partake of the goodness of the land.”

The sense of hearing is the sense of inner balance, the foundation of rectified existence. (Imbalance is the source of all fall and destruction). A well balanced ear, a well oriented sense of hearing, possesses the ability to discern and distinguish in everything one hears truth from falseness, as is said (Job 12:11 and 34:3): “the ear discerns words” ozen malin tivchan (the initial letters of this phrase spell emet–“truth”).

Controlling Limb: Left Kidney

The “advice” given by the left kidney is how to properly hear and integrate truth into one’s consciousness.

In accordance with the general principle that “right” is always more spiritual than “left,” the sense of thought (of the month of Iyar), controlled by the right kidney, is relatively more spiritual than the sense of hearing, controlled by the left kidney.

The two kidneys are the “male” and “female” advisors of the soul. The right kidney advises how to rectify one’s character traits through the process of careful introspection (the sense of thought of the month of Iyar). The left kidney advises how to absorb truth into one’s consciousness (the sense of hearing of the month of Av)

The word for kidney, kulyah, comes from kol–“all.” Kol = 50. Our sages teach us that “at the age of 50 one is able to give advice.” The two kidneys are two complementary sets of 50 (as the 50 parallel 50 loops of the two sets of the over-hang drapery of the Tabernacle). 50 plus 50 = 100 = 10 squared, the consummate state of rectification, 10 (powers of the soul) “interincluded” in 10.

Av: Resources for the Hebrew Month of Av

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