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The Happiest Day on the Jewish Calendar

Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 2:22 pm

Canva - Happy Young Woman on Spring Field.jpgDid you know that the saddest day and happiest day on the Jewish Calendar are within days of each other? And no it is not Purim or Chanukah….

Yesterday Jewish communities around the world observed the day of Tisha (9th of Av) B’Av, the day when both holy temples were destroyed in Jerusalem thousands of years ago and a day when many other terrible tragedies happened in the Jewish calendar. This day is considered the saddest day on the Jewish calendar since so many huge tragedies happened on this day which altered the course of history for the Jewish people and radically changed the way people connected with G-d and for that matter with each other.

On this day, besides the Temples being destroyed and many people being killed, masses of Jews were led into exile, often sold into slavery and scattered all over the world into the diaspora. Their spiritual close relationship with G-d also radically changed as the Temple ceased to be the central place of worship and connection to G-d, and they understood that their relationship with G-d had been radically altered as a result of their own inner discord and lack of morality.

Yet following that day, we observe the 15th of Av which is considered to be the most joyous day on the Jewish calendar due to multiple events that happened on that day. Several of those included being able to put an end and closure to certain tragedies and another more famous one is that it became the day when the Jewish tribes reconnected (full list of events on that day here) after a period of intense inner strife. As a result of that reunification the maidens of each tribe once again began to marry within all the other tribes and their ceased to be inner divisions among the Jewish people. The Talmud describes how on that day the young maidens would borrow beautiful clothes from one another so that no one would know who was poor and who was rich (besides not knowing which tribes they were all from), and then they would go out and celebrate as the young men from all the tribes would meet up.

The Talmud describes this day as the happiest day on the Jewish Calendar due to everything that it represents in terms of joy, happiness, breaking down of social barriers and overcoming strife. Ironically it comes within days of the saddest and most tragic day on the Jewish Calendar the 9th of Av and that is not by chance.

In Chassidic philosophy there is a famous concept that says that “the greater the descent the greater the ascent that follows”. For this reason, connecting with the message and meaning of the tragedy of the 9th of Av, is the descent that precedes the 15th of Av and enables us to fully experience and appreciate the joy that is at the core of the 15th of Av, the happiest day on the Jewish calendar.

What is true in this regard is true in life in our personal and communal journeys. It is often through the greatest challenges and failures that we are able to grow in the greatest strides and realize true joy and happiness. The joy of seeing a child who struggled, succeed in school or the joy of a parent who could not bear a child, who is able to give birth, or the joy of the addict in gaining control of their lives, are joys that are incomparably greater than regular moments of joy that happen in life.

This Shabbat is known as the Shabbat of Comfort, a time when we focus on G-d’s promise to bring redemption to the world one day, and it is a reminder that although life and in or history we definitely have had moments of downfalls and hardship, our goals, hopes and what we anticipate are rebuilding and joyful moments for all of mankind on a scale far greater than all of the tragedies we have ever experienced.

The 15th of Av is the joy that represents the happiness and hope for the future that has never left the Jewish people and what we have held onto even in the most challenging moments of our history.

Shabbat Shalom & Happy Tu B’Av

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