Av 15th, 5772 and many happy returns…

It is T”U BeAv 5772ט”ו באב תשע”ב, six days after the commemoration of the different catastrophes that affected the Jewish people or the Children of Israel on their way to comply with the Divine Will upon them and the whole of our human community.

The destruction of the two Temples that affected the very birthing place for the Service of God. It does not mean some “settling”, some building of a residence. It means that the Hebrew nation that is reaching out of twelve tribes also reaches out till the ends of the inhabited world as it is known to us.

Before the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Mishkan/residence – משכן had been journeying through the wilderness. The primal original place for the first envisioning of a very strong and connecting “tieing up” bond between humans and the One Most High, Creator of Heaven and Earth, came with the final test proposed by God to Abraham. He accepted with full trust – and the Epistle to the Romans also mentioned this – to offer, sacrifice, murder his son Isaac by binding him on the wood (Genesis/Bereshit chapter 22).

The text is read daily during the Morning Prayer of all Jewish rites as the “Akeydat Itzhak/ עקידת יצחק – The binding of Isaac”, not the sacrifice of Abraham. The son of the promise given at the hottest moment of the day by the Angel, became true. Sarah and Abraham gave life.

The account of the “putting at the stake/tree of life” of Jesus of Nazareth at the Golgotha/Calvary, in Jerusalem, does resemble to this account read each day during the prayer of Shaharit/שחרית in the early hours of the day, not really “morning”, but “dawn”, when the sun points out slightly and becomes light for the Earth. It is not a putting to death, or at least it goes through death for the Christians and turns back to the first sixth day of creation when Adam who could not find any companion got Eve to “monitor him” “against his own will”. The woman accomplishes, achieves as a crown the work of creation and provides companionship, a person to dialogue with for a male who otherwise had understood that he would have remained alone and “speechless”.

The same happens with Jesus who met with Mary Magdalene in the garden up there, outside of Jerusalem, close to the Calvary. Risen by the power of the Living and Life-giving God, the Only One and the Spirit who gives discernment. This capacity to discern overcomes and leads far beyond any morning or dawn. Humans betray each other. In the cause of “reinvigorating/resurrecting”, the woman is Mary Magdalene and Jesus like a reversed Adam. In the tradition of the Church, Mary Magdalit did not recognize Jesus at once. She thought he was the gardener.

The very striking thing is the first blessing recited in Judaism during the prayer of this dawn: Blessed is the Lord, Who gave to the cock/rooster to distinguish between night and day.” The word “cock” is not the usual one, but “sechvi/שכוי ” that also means “conscience. Because as humans we have a conscience or we should be able to make use of it. Rising up, waking up each day is like this rising from death because we a living breath, breathing spirit and soul abidfes our “temple” that our body, flesh and soul show to the “living”. It also means that – just as Jesus had told Peter that he would betray him three times before the cock will crow, we too are saved from self-denial and denial, rejection of the One Who Is the One Who is constantly going to Be Who He Is”; In Hebrew, it is a move and a dynamic process, not a “stand-by”.

Then Jesus said “Mary/Myriam” and at the call of her name, she uttered “Rabbuni/רבוני ” in Aramaic: “Master”, as the one who, like Adam, initially, had the task to give a name to all the living. And Mary thus received the personal responsibility to explain to the other men and disciples that Jesus had been ressurected from the dead. And this is only possible not by any human means, persuasion, force. It is only possible if the Holy Spirit allows to utter this as a specific kind of language.

In Jerusalem, there have been two Temples and the first one did include the very Divine Presence and Providence. The Second Temple did not, but at the Western Wall, ever since, since the destruction of the last “living” Temple, the Priestly Blessingברכת כהנים has been recited every day, even with some interruption. The last living act of the sacrificial Service in the Temple that consists to bless and never to curse the world and all the humans is still carried on, on a daily basis, in the absence of the Temple but the fundamental stones that have seen how Jerusalem could gather in those who could utter words to God as the “living One”.

How many Jews and Christians know and can “embody” this daily repeated prayer till the present day: “You are the Blessed Who is alive and resurrects/reinvigorates : El Chai veQayam/ אל חי וקים “. This creates a unique link to the ascertainment made by the Christian Faith that “God is risen from the dead, resurrects the dead and gives life to those who are in the dust of the graves”. In Hebrew “Qam/קם = to rise, to come up” and in Aramaic “Qaymaקימא = the Good news (of the Gospel).

This means that there is deep inside of the human heart, soul, being in body and mind this certitude that we are born to live, disappear and still to live further, not again… that we do not disappear. We cannot be removed from memory or what we call “history”, in Hebrew “generations – tol’dot/תולדות ”.

As humans we spend our days trying to wipe out, erase, rebuke or betray other humans. Indeed, we long after “long time, duration, respect, love”. Could we say that Abraham loved his wife, Sarah? The Jewish tradition considers it took three generation to reach this feeling of true love. Abraham had the charity to bury his wofe and to buy a cave belonging to a local inhabitant who required the high price. Abrahm knew he was a stranger and a wanderer. It did not stop with the buying of the cave for Sarah, the Cave of Machpelah that has been so much honored htroughout the ages.

Isaac desired his wife Rebecca but Jacob really fell in love in Rachel and this is the climaxing appearance of love and “free work for the sake of a free love”. He had to work seven more years.

In the Western tradition there is a special day dedicated to the “people in love of each other”, not really “lovers”. Those who love somebody and want to match with someone. The “Saint Valentine Day” in February has no link with any “history of the redemption”.

The 15th of the Month of Av or TU BeAv/ט”ו באב corresponds to the “sixth day” after the 9th of Av or Tisha BeAv/ט’ באב that recalls the destruction of the two Temples that were alive in the walls of Jerusalem. It is thus comparable – though the feast is quite “recent” compared with “9th of Av” – to the sixth day of the creation and the placing of man and woman in the Gan Eden or Paradise. On that day, that is celebrated as the Shabbat – the process of creation came to accomplishment thought continuing to be on a creating move (אשר ברא אלהים לעשות = that He/God created in the process of realization, cf. Genesis 2:3).

We have it in the feast of TU BeAv. It is the day for life and awareness that God gave and gives ever since to live beyond any “dead line”. We also underestand it because, as major Jewish feasts, Pessah falls on the 14th of the Jewish month, i.e. on the day when the Moon is full, ready to birth and thus, to deliver and “disappear”. The Jewish tradition has always considered that the monthly birth, plenitude and disappearance of the Moon is a sign for the Divine Providence, Protection and trust, faithfulness.

The 9th of Av not only recalls the destructions. It also underscores the different catastrophes that affected the Jewish people. The turbulences are considered as resulting from the sins committed by the Children of Israel.

The joyous feast of TU BeAv is celebrated AFTER the Full Moon Day, on Av 15th, ascertaining that the Moon is still visible, present, thus God’s ivine Presence and Providence over the people and all humans.

It is a joyous day because, six days after the catastrophes, the Moon’s light shows how much God entrusts his creation and creatures, all the living.

Is it a Love Day? Most people may think it is in Israel and within the Jewish people at the present. But this more likely is to sound very modern-style, trendy, en vogue. The Jewish tradition commemorates something else that is recalled during a Shabbat en route to the upcoming New Year – Rosh HaShanah/ראש השנה .

We are often confused with what regards “love”. We prefer to focus on ourselves as humans. It is far easier for those who do not accept that there is a God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Universe as a totality that we hardly can envision. We are short-sighted and our days pass and disappear. Love also fades or “unique love” is a total and free Gift, a sign of Divine Presence. It is too often reduced or regressed to our own feelings. “Love” is a word repeated the way parrots do, but they do not understand what they can ape! The cock wakes up but it is not due to his own discernment, it is to call to discern with conscience and in words that there is a Creator.

This is why it is so difficult in our pretty puch hedonistic societies – if not individualistic and narcissistic “tribes” to focus on God first; human partnership comes as a consequence of the existence of the Creator.

The first element is the return of the Spies or Scouts that had visited the Land of Canaan. They returned to Moses and reported that the country was dangerous and that it would be better not to get there. Yehoshua Bin Nun told the truth, but God decided then that the spies should perish in the wilderness. It comes as a second rejection of the Divine commandments, just as the sin of the golden calf. At this point this gave the Yom HaKippurim of Day of Expiation. It also redirects the people on the Service in the Temple that started again after the exile in Babel on the day of Expiation/Atonement (Nehemiah, Ezra, Ben Sirach).

The spies died. The Book of the Judges (21:19-23) recounts how in Shilo, the young girls were to go into the fields on the day of the 15th of Av in order t ofind or catch a young man, as in a dance.

After a certain time, the widows came to Moses and required to get new husbands. They did not say they wanted them out of love, but in order to prolong the nation, the generation and “make babies”. It was a typical woman-like move that corresponded as today to the profoundly marked desire to birth babies and “the future”. Again, this is how the “love parade” appeared: Moses understood they wanted something that did correspond to a Divine blessing for the future of the community. This is love, a natural, basic instinct need for physical intercourse that can give life.

While asking this, they also led to break the law of the tribes as defined in the Book of Numbers 36. There were twelve Tribes that were not allowed to inter-marry. The demand of these women caused the law to be considered as useless and obsolete. Indeed, it was strange that Tribes connected by the lniks of faith and thus strongest possible identity could be barred from inter-marriage. This is usually considered as a “primitive” societal attitude, still to be found for example among the Zoroastrians in the Middle-Eastern pre-monotheistic tradition. It is very important because it became the first evidence of a full openness to all the people and their children without fencing. There are borders and barriers among the presentday “tribes, communities”, but, they are basically no more in force.

Subsequently, the Tribe of Benjamin, the only son who was born to Jacob in the Land of Canaan, was re-intergrated into the general “commonwealth” of the tribes of Israel. TU BeAv is a time of pardon, reconnection and reconciliation. This put an end to the episode of the “concubine of Givah” (Judge 2:19) in which it is reported of a woman who had left her husband and returned to her family that lived in Bethlehem. Talmud Gittin 6b accounts that she had not nourished him accordingly and/or the husband got afraid because she was not fit sexually with regard to the usual principles required at that time (“shaven female genitals”).

The re-integration of the Tribe of Benjamin is also symbolic because of the strong mental impact that his was the youngest son, was a part of the dispute between Jacob’s sons and Joseph. Maybe it would give some indication on the special integration of Paul of Tarsus into the Early Church since he could ascertain that he was a member of the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1).

TU BeAV/ Av 15th firstly refers to a pardon. The women are allowed to find new men and to birth children in view to enter the Land of Canaan. It is parallel to the Day of atonement in that sense that it gathers in by a Divine act of forgiveness the Jewish nation. The abolishment of strict inter-marriage laws imply that real unity comes into force. when the Temple was “alive”, the date also marked the end of the cutting of the fire-wood for the sacrifices in the Temple. It is evident that there was a strong link with the summer “bonfires” introduced as a heritage of the pagan cults.

The core meaning of TU BeAv is to be found in “atonement”. It focuses on the joyous celebration of being alive and contemplating the ability to giving birth. This implies that as human beings the women first and subsequently men can get parading or “seduce” each other. Life is indeed a “wedding dance” made of attractive feelings and keeping the adequate distance. Does it really mean that “love” is possible? Desires. Love implies the capacity to share, to get to one “flesh and soul”, which requires mutual self-abandonment without “fusion and confusion”.

In Hebrew and in the Jewish traditions, the word “AHaVaH/אהבה ” is used to define the 13 middotמדות or attributes of Love that describe the Divine Essence and “Identity”. It is based on the numerical value of the word “ahavah = 13”: “Lord o Lord, is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness” (Psalm 103:9 and cf. Exodus 34:6-7).

Our societies and Israel do not constitute any exception has always envision “love” as a major “mirroring” of Who God is as a Creator. Judaism has not seen “sex” as a “sin” but, on the contrary, an act of true sharing, giving and pleasure reaching out to fulfillment and plenitude. This also implies that individuals are willing to share not only their limbs, physical attractiveness. Love and “nicity to be together” (even without sex intercourse) are based on the fact that the soul, mind, brains reside in a “building, a shape” that is housing the spirit of life in human beings; the soul dwells in the body and not the body in the soul. Both are causes to love and be loved by another person, a companion. Thus, Love tends to future and generating. It does not focus on the present alone or the past in terms of our common or distinct history. In that sense, love cannot mirror or reflect itself into who a person is; since matching souls and bodies brings some finitude to the action of creation.

Subsequently, it means that love can be considered as the accomplishment of a total “co-embodying, co-matching and in-corpo-rating” reality witnesses to the oneness of God as the Merciful One, full of tenderness, loving-kindness and “at-one-ment”. We rarely consider love as the blessing to get a bride/bridegroom or life companion.

As I often mention in my articles, the English world-international word “sex” is not relevant in Hebrew. “Sex, from Latin ‘sexus'” means “sectus/separated”. It is very curious and really sounds “heathen, pagan” as if “union and feelings” (or absence of feelings because sex can be mechanics)  readily include a separation. Hebrew “min/מין ” for “intercourse” is more a question: “From where?” and is connected with “man /man hu = what is that/?”. It means an interrogation on what it lead to where and from where it comes. This is one of the reason why the quest includes the action of “becoming”, drives to “future” and obliges  to contemplate “birthing”. This “generating” is both physical in the sense it gives satisfaction, it also satisfies spiritually, feeding the soul.

Soul mates? Is TU BeAv a day in view to looking for some soul mates? Wedding dance conducts to “attractiveness” in terms of “merging, combining and conglommerating” into a real communion. This communion will include feelings, indeed; “love” as such rarely exists because it is terribly difficult to “give one’s life to the full” and to entrust it with a sensation that all sentiments are satisfied to the fullest.

This is why TU BeAv is to be presented as a quest and search to get numerous satiating Gifts. It is a “liturgical” day as to use a language that sounds more “Christian” to begin with. Jews would reflect that as the Day is linked to atonement and forgiveness given by God, to prolongement of life beyond generations.

I love to “perform” and celebrate marriages. I must say this is something exceptional because it assembles two individuals to make them one, one “bassar/בשר – flesh”. It is complying with the very first commandment, given to the whole of the mankind. It implies growth (human, physical, intellectual, spiritual), multiplying (overcome ego-centered attitudes by birthing in all senses, intellectually and physically, genenationally). The Israeli society should avoid on such a day to get aside from what may frame individuals in their own desires and subsequently failures to build up for themselves and the others, the human family.

av aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)
Av 15, 5772 – ט”ו באב תשע”ב

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