Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Torah Readings for Friday, August 5, 2016 Rosh Chodesh Av Menachem Av

Torah Readings for Friday, August 5, 2016

Rosh Chodesh Av (Menachem Av)
28:1-15 Bamidbar (Numbers)

This is the standard reading for each Rosh Chodesh.  Rosh Chodesh is the name of the minor holiday that marks the start of each month.  The term Rosh Chodesh is translated as New Moon.  The first day of the month is referred to as Rosh Chodesh because the months are lunar and the first day of each month comes with the start of the new moon.  In the days of the Temple special sacrifices were brought in honor of the new moon.  With the destruction of the Temple, the sacrificial system ended.  In place of the sacrifices, Jews read a description of the sacrificial offerings, which is described in the first fifteen verses of chapter 28 in the book of Numbers.  The Torah reading takes place during the daily morning service.  There are many Jews who have no desire to return to the sacrificial system.  They use these readings as a way of providing a connection with the past which is one of the keys to our future preservation.  Because of Rosh Chodesh a shortened form of Hallel is recited.  Tefillin are worn until Mussaf or Additional Service.  Because of its connection with the moon, Rosh Chodesh is thought to have special meaning for women and should be used as a way of honoring Jewish wives.  There are those who use this as a gift-giving event for their spouses.  (This is just a thought; not a plug for our Cedar Rapids jewelers, Herman Ginsberg, and the Siegels).  Alternatively, they give Tzedakah in honor of the women (wives, sisters, daughters, etc.) in their lives.

Av or Menachem Av
This week marks the beginning of the month of Av.  It is the fifth month on the Jewish religious calendar (starting from Nissan).  It is the eleventh month on the Jewish Civil Calendar (starting from Tishri i.e., Rosh Hashanah).  While there are references to “the fifth month” in the TaNaCh, there is no mention of the month of Av.  Since the fall of the Temple in 586 B.C.E., Av has been considered a month of disaster by Jews including the destruction of the Second Temple, the expulsion from Spain and the start of World War I, to name but a few.  Av is also referred to as Menachem Av.  “Menachem” is a Hebrew word meaning “comforter.”  Part of this has to do with the concept of “comfort” which is offered to the bereaved Jewish people starting with the Shabbat after Tisha B’Av.  Part of it has to do with a belief that the Moshiach (Messiah) who will bring comfort to us all will be born during the month of Av.

Av Moments

Av 2, 5050:  In 1290, King Edward I (England), pressured by his barons, the Church and possibly by his mother, announced the expulsion of all the Jews.
Av 6, 5416:  In 1656, philosopher Baruch Spinoza was excommunicated in Amsterdam.
Av, 26, 5705:  In 1945, The Atomic Bomb named Little Boy is dropped on Hiroshima.

Copyright; August, 2016; Mitchell A. Levin