It’s Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av. Every beginning of each Jewish month is celebrated as Rosh Chodesh (literally the head of the month), a mini-holiday that is particularly tied to women. Many women take the day off from all housework and relax a bit or say tehillim (psalms). This month, though, it’s also the beginning of the 9 Days, an intensified period of mourning for the destruction of the Temple.
It’s particularly poignant this year as greater tensions have broken out after Israel placed metal detectors on the Temple Mount following armed terrorist attacks that killed 2 policemen. The terrorists brought their weapons from the Temple Mount. I guess I always assumed that the Temple Mount already had metal detectors, like the Kotel and most major public sites do these days. Now there has been another terrorist attack, killing three in a family who was just sitting down to their Shabbos meal and celebrating the birth of a grandson and protests keep breaking out in Jerusalem and in Jordan, where an embassy guard was stabbed with a screwdriver and then managed to fight off and kill his attackers.
Just as thousands of years ago, Jews feel under siege.
My Rabbi had a very profound thought about all of this chaos. He reminded us that the month of Av is named after the Hebrew word Av, meaning father. It also means a close relationship, like a Daddy, rather than a stern, disapproving father. The month in which we reach our highest mourning and all the world seems against the Jews, is also the month in which Hashem comes close to us, to comfort us as a Father holding his children in his arms.
Several fathers have died in this round of terror, from one of the policemen in the first attack who had a newborn to the father of 5 in the stabbing attack whose wife saved their children by barricading herself in another room and calling the police to the grandfather of that same family. It’s my sincere hope that their families are drawn close to Hashem and comforted now, along with all those who mourn this month. May all the tears be turned to joy and the coming of Moshiach.