Thursday, June 21, 2012

Healing Powers of The Month of Tamuz

based on the teachings of HaRav Yitzchak Ginsburgh

What can we do to free ourselves from the cult of life as a tragedy? The first step is to see it for what it is—a form of shallow idolatry that cultivates a shallow approach to life’s true sorrows and pain. As the sages teach us, when a person experiences pain or sorrow it is a call from God above for soul-searching and a change in direction. 

The life-as-a-tragedy stance can be taken only when trust and faith in God’s goodness and loving-kindness has been cast away. Once these are gone, worship of the tragic becomes possible. In fact, one of the names used in the Bible for idols is simply “sadness.”

Recognizing that depression and loss of faith in life are forms of idolatry help bring home the Biblical statement that to follow God means to “Choose life!” But to choose life, one needs to be able to see the goodness in life. This second step involves our outlook on ourselves and on others.

The sense of the month of Tamuz is: sight. This means that the month of Tamuz is the best month of the year to learn to exercise our sight in the most positive way possible. Rectified sight involves both shying away from that which is negative (an ability associated in Kabbalah with our left eye) and training ourselves to see things in a positive light (associated with our right eye). In essence, both aspects are included in the right eye, which means that we should seek to see only the good points in others.

What stops us from being able to see the good in others is, almost always, envy. The sages teach us that envy breeds lust and pride. If you look upon others with envy, not only are you unable to see the good in them, but you are actually increasing your own lusts and cravings for those things that are the opposite of life. In turn, greater lust leads to greater envy and the cycle constantly becomes more vicious. To heal yourself you need an expert eye doctor. According to Chassidut, the first expert eye doctor was Moses, who healed the spiritual sight of the entire Jewish people with his own qualities of selflessness and unconditional love for all Jews.

A person who has healed his sense of sight in this sense gains the power to heal others with his gaze. The story is told of the greatest lover of the Jewish people in recent generations, Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who would pray with eyes wide open facing the street and the comer and goers. His critics charged him with immodesty, but he would not change his ways. The inner meaning of his puzzling conduct was that his kind and encouraging gaze whilst clinging to God in prayer (not concentrating at all on those outside) was enough to change people for the better. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, one of Rebbe Levi Yitzchak’s great contemporaries found this idea in the verse: “A bit more and the wicked will be no more; for you will gaze at his place, and he will be gone.” Rebbe Nachman explained that by these words, King David meant that by ignoring the wickedness in a person and by searching for the good in him or her, one’s gaze has the power to annul evil. This is the Jewish response to life-as-a-tragedy stance.

Read complete article here: Tamuz: The End of Tragedy

The video below has been previously blogged by others, but contains references to the month of Tammuz specifically, so here it is again.

Hat tips: Joe and Miguel


bruinsfan44 said...

Why are so many of your posts focused on what one rabbi or another has to say and not centered around the Tanakh? There is so much to be learned and you don't need someone else to filter this knowledge and tell you what they want you to know.

Devorah said...

Because I'm not a talmud chacham, and their knowledge has been brought down and then given out specifically for people like me. Without these rabbis' and their writings, those like myself would know even less than we do now.

Anonymous said...

Not so. The opposite is true. Have some faith in yourself.

joshwaxman said...

To add to Devorah's excellent answer:

The Torah is not just the static written text, but an Oral tradition as well. It forms a chain that goes back thousands of years. And while individual rabbis come up with novel interpretations, these are within a conversation that spans these thousands of years. And these rabbis are aware of the tradition.

Also, these rabbis know a lot more than your typical anonymous or pseudonymous internet commenter. You have no idea of the amount of Torah breadth and depth that a Rav Herschel Schachter has, that a Rav Chaim Kanievsky has, that a Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz has, that the Abarbanel has. An interpretation by some random commenter on a Biblical verse compared with an interpretation from one of these figures... it is like a mathematics suggestion by a student first taking algebra compared with a mathematics suggestion by a Nobel Prize winner.

Christians are used to interpreting verses directly. So too Noachides or new converts to Judaism, perhaps, who have this approach in their backgrounds and don't realize the paradigm shift.

As an example, bruinsfan44, I challenge you to provide the correct interpretation of the very first verse of the Torah, without researching it...

All the best,

Joe said...

Wow brinsfan44,
Of course they are talking about Tanakh,what else tiddlywinks.

What better filter than from the original recipients of Torah.
But then again, Christianity and Islam have Tanach .....and look what happened.
It is like putting ketchup and pineapple on pizza and calling it Italian :-)

You want authentic Tanakh, try the original it is yummy.

Howard said...

I advise all to be especially calm and down to earth in the month of Tammuz.
The hot sun can produce depression, with feelings that we should somehow be enjoying life to the fullest just because it is summer. But of course, we have to continue to work and study etc so everyday cannot be some sort of idyllic holiday of sun worship! Focus on clear study, and acts of chesed as an antidote. Phone up that friend you have been meaning to call but have been putting off, go and visit that relative who is a little isolated, give a little extra Tzedakkah.

Leah said...

Thank you, josh, so true. one cannot look at the main component effectively without reading the manuals, too. The main component needs explanation and what better way to research then by reading what the masters of long ago found and had to say. If I had one millionth of their knowledge and foresight and breadth and depth and........

Rangersfan94 said...

It's amazing that your comment was written this week, during Parshat Korach. Your position is EXACTLY that of Korach. The Torah clearly shows us through the "story" of Korach that a person who detaches himself/herself from the true Tzadikim is and will be hopelessly lost.

The Torah teaches us the same thing in last week's Parsha regarding the "story" of the spies: the 12 spies were all Torah sages of the highest magnitude. Any one of them could penetrate the deepest depths of Torah in a way that we can't even comprehend. Yet, despite their awesome greatness in Torah, only two of them acted according to Hashem's will: Yehoshua and Calev. Why? Because Yehoshua was connected to the Tzadik of his generation- Moshe Rabbeinu (Yehoshua was explicily blessed by Moshe Rabbeinu before embarking on the mission.) As for Calev, when he saw that the Tzadik of his generation did not bless him the way he blessed Yehoshua, Calev did the next best thing: he went straight to Chevron to pray at the Cave of Machpela where Avraham, Yitzchak, Yakov, Sara, Rivka and Leah are buried. In other words he connected himself to the true Tzadikkim of the prior generations.

It was ONLY through their respective connections to the Tzadikkim that Yehoshua and Calev were able to act in accordance with Hashem's true will.

As we say in our prayers every day: "and they believed in Hashem AND IN MOSES HIS SERVANT.

Devorah said...

Thank you Rangersfan. Bruinsfan did send a follow-up comment which showed his true colors, but I deleted it as it was full of hate towards me and my blog and didn't deserve to be read publicly.
Bruinsfan - find another site if you don't like this one, and try to keep your nasty personality and negative comments under control.