The Jewish months can teach us a lot about cosmology. Contrary to what many people think, there’s actually an in-depth and detailed study about the forces, angels and names associated with each of the months. This study help us navigate better and take proper action to make the most out of the mazalot(ruling spiritual forces) that are active.
We see these ideas in many different Halachot. For example, the Shulchan Aruch teaches us that we don’t say the penitential prayers during the month of Nissan because that’s the month of miracles. Likewise, a Jew must seek to have his court appearance during the month of Adar, when there’s great joy and happiness (and consequently higher chance he will win).
The Month of Tammuz
The month of Tammuz is at first glance not very special or even blessed. On the 17th, we begin the period of mourning of 3 weeks with a fast, which culminates on the 9th of Av. These are apparently sad days, which most people choose to hunker down and not take any risky endeavors.
Yet, as we’ve seen previously, this is only for those that can’t transform the darkness into light that this is an unwelcome month. Tammuz is a time of reflection and preparation for the high holidays. In fact, it is reassuring that the incredibly holy first tablets precisely on the 17th day of Tammuz. Had the Jewish People not sinned with the Golden Calf, we’d still have them intact. However, the fact that they were broken does not mean we can’t make use of their energy. In fact, the shards of the tablets were preserved for generations in the Holy Ark.
Many Kabbalists also say that whatever sacrifices we make in abstention during these 3 weeks are worth infinitely more than in the rest of the year.
Deeper meaning of the months
The usage of months goes much deeper than simply a measure of time. Each of the Jewish months is ruled by a corresponding permutation of the holy name of Hashem יהוה and אהיה. They are both derived from a certain verse in Scriptures and the month of Tammuz is derived from the last letters of the verse in MegillatEsther where Haman says זה איננו שווה לי (“this is not worth me anything”), which yields the permutation הוהיand the corresponding היהא. These 2 names are great to be meditated upon the month of Tammuz (each month to its permutation), in order to absorb its power.
It’s important to note that the 12 months are divided into 2 halves. There’s the winter half, going through Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shvat and Adar, and associated with the male aspect of Hashem’s Divine Providence. The second half of summer goes from Nissan to Yiar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av and Elul, and is associated with the female aspect of Hashem’s Divine Providence. This mean that women can have a greater potential for elevation in these months.
The Sefer Yetzirah, attributed to none less than Avraham Avinu, associates the month of Tammuz with the sense of sight and letter Chet. It is explained in the writtings of the Arizal that each month we also focus on a specific Sephira and part of the anthropomorphic part of the specific aspect, male of female, of the Divine Providence. And this also reveals to us the essential aspect of the month.
In this vein, we see that Tammuz corresponds to the Sephira of Netzach (victory) of the feminine aspect of the divine providence, and also to the right eye. When we are in tune with Hashem, we begin noticing the clues from the spiritual system that he created. In Kabbalah we also find that the right eye corresponds to seeing things in a positive light and being receptive to our challenges, having Hashem in mind. Haman had a horrible eye, and couldn’t stand having the entire kingdom of Persia as second in command. For him, the fact that Mordechai wouldn’t bow down to him made everything worthless!
The fact that we use this verse is very telling: Hashem is teaching us that, when we are able to see things in a positive light (exact opposite of what Haman did), we sweeten the great dinim (judgments) that apparently are in the month of Tammuz and convert them to blessings, or Netzach (victory) if you will!
May we merit to win all our challenges and derive all the power from the month of Tammuz!