31 July 2012

Looking Forward to TU b'Av

12 Menachem Av 5772

The Clarification of Evil from Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg of Gal Einai Institute (His writings can be found at inner.org)

The Inner Meaning of Tu B'Av

Our Sages say that there were no days happier than the 15th of the Hebrew month of Av, known as Tu B'av, and Yom Kippur. On Tu B'Av the maidens of Israel would dance in the vineyards while their potential bridegrooms would look on and choose a mate from among the dancing maidens. Thus, Tu B'Av is the day when marriages were made. This is the greatest joy in the world, as it leads to the birth of children, which ultimately leads to the birth of the Mashiach.

Tu B'Av Clarifies Tish'a B'Av

According to our Sages, the Mashiach is born on the 9th of Av. This is the day of national mourning over the destruction of the two Temples. The initial tragedy of Tish'a B'Av (the 9th of Av) took place when the spies returned to the Israelites in the desert with a negative report about the Land of Israel. The Israelites accepted their evil words and cried. As their sorrow was actually unfounded, God decreed that the Jewish People would have good reason to cry on this night. The sin of accepting the evil report on the Land of Israel is the source for the destruction of the Temples and all the subsequent sorrows of exile related to Tish'a B'Av.

For the next 40 years, it was decreed on the generation of the desert to die. Every Tish'a B'Av eve, they would sleep in a collective grave. Upon waking in the morning, 1/40th of the people would be dead. On the 40th year, nobody died. The Israelites, thinking that they had possibly miscalculated the 9th of Av, continued to sleep in the collective grave until the full moon on the 15th of Av, when the 9th of Av had clearly passed. Tu B'Av then became a day of celebration. Although the decree had objectively ended on the 9th of Av, this only became subjectively revealed on the 15th of Av.

Clarification of Good from Bad

When Adam and Eve prematurely ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they created a mixture of good and evil in reality. Ever since, it has been upon their descendants to clarify the good from the evil. When this clarification process is finished, the Mashiach may be born.

Pregnancy is a process of clarification, in which the living fetus is clarified from the impure matter in the womb. Our work of clarification to bring the Mashiach is also similar to pregnancy. Although the Mashiach is ready to be born on the 9th of Av, it is not until the 15th of Av that this is subjectively clear. Thus the 15th of Av is the end of our subjective clarification of the Mashiach.

The Inner Meaning of the Month of Av

According to Sefer Yetzirah, every month has a corresponding Hebrew letter, tribe and sense. The letter that corresponds to the month of Av is tet. The corresponding tribe is Shimon and the corresponding sense is the sense of hearing.

Hearing is the ability of the soul to integrate or absorb knowledge. The sin of hearing the evil report of the spies is the sin of Av. The positive rectification of hearing is the integration of spiritually good things.

The Secret of Tet

The letter tet is in the form of the womb. Tet, whose value is 9, also alludes to the 9 months of pregnancy that take place in the womb. At the end of the clarification of the process of pregnancy, the birth occurs. Spiritually, this takes place on Tu B'Av.

In Job it is written: "Who is able to extract pure from impure? Only God."

God, Who is essentially pure, can take the pure from the impure. This is the secret of the birth of Abraham, who was pure, from the impure Terach, his father.

The Good Hidden Within the Evil

There are 3 basic words in Hebrew that begin with tet:

Tov ("good") -- numerical value 17

Tahor ("pure") -- numerical value 220

Tameh ("impure") -- numerical value 50

Pure and impure are opposites. When added together, their numerical values equal 270, which is the value of ra, ("evil"). When pure and impure are mixed together, it creates evil. We know however, that the initial word that begins with tet is Tov. Although the pure may be well-hidden within the evil, the actual ratio of pure to impure is 220:50, as above. Our purpose is to take this mixture of pure and impure, which may seem to be completely evil, to identify the pure and extract it from the impure. This leaves the evil as an empty shell, without the vitality of the pure to give it life force.

Be Essentially Good

We learn in Chassidut that it is not enough to be correct, in which one measures himself against a standard. A person must be essentially good. This essential goodness, a gift of our Divine, Godly soul, is the tool that allows us to clarify good from evil. The 15th of Av is the end of this clarification process. We can then open our eyes and see the Mashiach born.

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