The Chai Times // the Night is Bright
Aug 04, 2023 7:06 pm
A beautiful thought from the Rebbe adapted by my friend Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone:
From the middle of the month of Av, this past Wednesday, the sun begins to set noticeably earlier. This date, the 15th Av, Tu b’Av, is considered one of the most festive days on the Jewish calendar. "There was never a day as festive for the Jewish people as the Fifteenth of the month of Av and Yom Kippur," the Talmud says.
Why is it that the 15th of Av, is considered the most festive day - when other holidays, such as Purim and Simchat Torah - seem to be far more joyous?
The Arizal, the great 16th century Kabbalist, explains that the 15h of Av comes in the middle of the Jewish month when the moon (to which the Jewish people are compared) is full at its brightest. Yet surely other days, Sukkot or Passover, which also are on the 15h of the month, are more festive?
The answer can be found in the trajectory of the month. Tu B’Av comes after the Tisha B’Av, the mournful 9th of the month. The true light of the holiday can best be appreciated only after the darkness of what proceeds it. From our saddest moment comes our greatest joy.
Intriguingly, this moment of rejoicing from the dark comes specifically when the days themselves become shorter, the nights longer. The darkness of night itself becomes not a source of concealment, but a vessel for the greatest light.
As Maimonides writes “even though it is a mitzvah to study during the day and at night, it is only at night that a person acquires most of his wisdom.”
We become the agents of light, by illuminating the night with the Torah we study. Winter is coming, and it’s an amazing thing.
Wishing you an uplifting Shabbat,
Rabbi Mendy & Mussy
p.s. As always, we would love to chat with you over coffee or drinks, about Judaism, or just life - reply to this email.
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It happens at least once a month: I’m walking to the subway and I find myself approached by a young man with tzitzit. “Excuse me, are you Jewish?” he asks. I never know how to respond. I am Jewish, yes, but I’m uncomfortable being accosted. I like to practice Judaism on my own terms rather than at a stranger’s behest. When approached, I say that I’m too busy. Too busy to lay tefillin, or too busy to shake the lulav and etrog, or too busy to accept a free box of matzo. And yet — slight irritation in my voice aside — part of me appreciates and even depends on these tiny moments of outreach. It’s nice to know that, if I ever needed matzo, someone would offer me some. It’s nice to know that if I ever felt alone in the world, someone would tell me I still belong.
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