1 Tammuz 5766
Reaching Up: Turning Destruction into Creation
by Rabbi Shlomo Borinstein
The word Tammuz comes from the word maza or mazi which means something which burns or a fire(See Shem MiShmuel parshas Korach). It is true that the month of Tammuz falls out in the hot summer but there probably is another connection between this month and something which burns.
The Shem MiShmuel (parshas Shelach) states that the months of Tammuz and Av are months full of hardships for us but will eventually turn into the months of holidays and happiness. He explains that Hashem created the world in such a way that the mundane parts of this world are also imbued with a kedusha from above. We read in parshas Eikav that man doesn’t live by bread alone but rather through that which comes from Hashem’s mouth. The Arizal explains that the bread we eat has that which comes from Hashem’s mouth in it. It, and everything else, have a holiness from above. Originally, before the sin of Adam, a person’s neshama was suppose to come down and connect with the physical body to the extent that the body would be raised up above this world as well. Only because of the sin does the neshama disconnect from the body at death leaving the body down here.
The months of the year are also suppose to teach us this lesson. The first three months, Nissan, Iyar, and Sivan, are months that a kedusha came down from above and connected with them. Nissan had all the makos and other miracles happen in it enabling the Jews to leave Mitzrayim. During Iyar the mon fell from shamayim giving the Jews sustenance in the desert. And, of course, in Sivan we received the Torah from above and brought it down here. We see kedusha come from above into this world.
The next three months are suppose to teach us the idea of being raised up above through the kedusha that came down to us. Had it not been for our sins all the mundane of this world would have become holy and during these months we would have rose above to unprecedented heights. We could have used the physical to elevate to spiritual.
Tammuz is the month that two of the worse calamities in our history took place. It was on the 17th of the month that Moshe came down with the luchos only to find the people with the eigal hazahav. And a year later the meraglim spent the entire month of Tammuz in Eretz Canaan which would cause us to spend forty years in the desert. It’s a month of destruction and great sorrow for us. But in that time of hardship there’s hope.
Tammuz represents Hashem’s mida of strict din and that’s why we’ve been punished so hard during this month. But in the future, when we finally come back to Hashem, the world will return to the way that He intended it to be. The world is suppose to run on din, but a din that we can handle. According to din we will turn all the destruction that we created into deserved festivals and happiness. The same powers that cause us to weep during this sad month with bring about laughter and cheer during the joyous month. This is the Tammuz that we dream for.
Now we can understand what burning has to do with Tammuz. Fire is destructive. The Gemara regards it as one of the four main categories of destruction. But there’s another characteristic about fire. Fire always reaches upwards as if it wants to return back to its Creator. That same power of destruction has in it the ability to connect us with the spiritual world. If we use the fire to light up our hearts then we can change the destruction into creation. This is the lesson of chodesh Tammuz.
May we merit to see the mourning turn into happiness and the darkness into light.