of Av carries with it a unique intensity (especially this year) different from
every other month of the year. We experience heavy mourning on Tisha B’av
itself and minimally, we are uncomfortable with the life-style changes we adopt
during the first 8 days of Av.
Is this the full depth of Av or is there more?
In our weekly woman’s class, we noticed that there are exactly 22 days during
the “3 week” period between the 17th of Tamuz and the 9th of
Av. Rav Tzadok Hacohen teaches that these 22 days correspond to the 22
letters of the Aleph-Bet, each day representing a different letter. This
is striking because the five chapters of the Book of Eichah are each arranged
according to the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. Let us not forget
that “Av” is comprised of the letters Aleph and Bet א-ב. Why do we
find that Av expresses this deep connection to the letters?
The Gemara in Yoma 54b, teaches us that when the Romans left the “Holy of
the Holy’s” they saw the two Keruvim (angelic beings) embracing one
another. Why at a time of destruction would the Keruvim, which represent
the relationship between Hashem and Am Yisrael, be embracing one another?
The Midrash (Aichah) teaches us that even though Tehilim 79 mourns the
destruction of Yerushalayim, it opens with a “Song for Asaf.”
Why does the Psalmist use the word a song? Rather, “a lament” or
“a cry” would be more appropriate? The Midrash teaches that Hashem
could have taken His anger out entirely on Am Yisrael, instead, God chose to
take out his vengeance on stones and wood. For this reason the Psalmist
opens this chapter of Tehillim with a “Song for Asaf.”
The letters of the Hebrew Alphabet are the building blocks of reality; they
connote essence. As the Zohar speaks about at great length, God created
the world using the holy letters. These letters make up our
Torah. They form our Jewish names. We speak to God intimately using this
same language. The Book of Eichah arranged according to the Aleph Bet,
the 22 days of the 3 weeks and the name Av א-ב, “(our) Father,” all come to
remind us that the essence of the relationship between Hashem and Am Yisrael
remains intact even at periods of destruction. Yes, we mourn our Temples
and all tragedies throughout Jewish history, but at the same time during these
intense days of Av coupled with pandemic we strengthen our eternal bond and
intrinsic connection to God.