Thursday, July 27, 2006

DVAR TORAH: Rosh Chodesh [Menachem] Av

I have to shortly head to mincha/maariv, but I wanted to quickly mention a few words of Torah about Rosh Chodesh Av. Adar is known as the month where we increase happiness "Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B'Simcha" says the Babylonian Talmud in Taanit 29a, "When we enter the month of Adar, our joy is increased". However this statement is preceded with the fact that "Mishenichnas Av Mametin B'Simcha", "When we enter the month of Av, our joy is diminished". Indeed, this is the very day some 3200-odd years ago that our first High Priest, Aaron, died in what was the only Yahrzeit pointed out in Scripture. The Rabbis have guesses as to when Moses dies (7 Adar), Miriam (10 Nisan), King David (6 Sivan), but the only one which is mentioned by God in His Account is Aaron's. Aaron is also the person most excessively mourned according to comparing to other examples of death in the Torah. (In the past I wrote a Dvar Torah regarding these examples of death rituals, so look back in the archives to find it.)
The aforementioned aphorism (hooray for tongue-twisters!) for the month of Adar is sung to a peppy, joyous, and quickly annoying melody. I created a song for the Month of Av which is basically the same meloy for the Adar one but in the minor and slower. It's really an homage to the "America, F*** Yeah! (Bummer Re-mix)" from "Team America: World Police" (but don't tell anyone it came from there).
From now until after mincha of the 10th of the month of Av, which happens to be next friday afternoon, we increase our mourning which we have been observing for the past 12 days since the 17th of Tammuz. Now we are not permitted to eat meat or drink grape products. Some people won't even bathe. However, there is a law that I studied in BT Moed Katan (which I will leave to you to look up because I have to head to services momentarilly) that if one is an istanis, in layman's terms, a weakling, which we would consider anyone living comfortably in America, is allowed to bathe if it would make them completely uncomfortable not to. Americans, unlike Israelis, are accustomed to bathing daily. Israelis don't have instant hot water and therefore are less likely to bathe daily. Therefore religious Israelis are more likely to not bathe during these days then religious Americans. Also one is not allowed to launder clothing or wear freshly (define freshly...) laundered clothes. The prohibition against shaving and cutting hair and no music (though some consider non-live music to be okay, and almost all consider recorded a capella to be permissible) also continues.

Alright, davening...

Chodesh tov, chodesh nechama. May you have a good and comforting month in this month of comfort, Menachem Av. And may our mourning turn into joy very soon.

Meanwhile, I have located a new site for Jewish a capella, after nine weeks of forbidden time (seven weeks of the omer and the first two of the three weeks) following the death of FiveTownsRadio which provided an Sefira/Three Weeks-friendly a capella feed, I have discovered, which if you click on the right side of the page, on Listen Now, you can get an a capella feed. Excellent, because I have been listening to books on tape on iPod, but now I have something else to listen to.

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