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“When the month of Av arrives one diminishes one’s joy” The Talmud (Ta’anit 29a) explains the nature of a month is evident at its beginning. The month of Adar when Purim is celebrated is seen as a season of enhanced joy. Consequently the month of AV which is characterized by the mourning observed in memory of Temples’ destruction begins with the first of Av.
The First of Av historically is noteworthy as the anniversary of Aaron’s the High Priest A’H ZY’A passing. Unlike other Biblical personalities the date of Aaron’s death is recorded in scripture “And Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the commandment of the Lord, and died there, in the fortieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month” (BaMidbar 33:38)
The Tifereth Shlomo of Ramdonsk ZT’L ZY’A asked what made Aaron so unique that his date of death is part of scripture. The Rebbe observed Aaron in his role as Cohen Gadol, High Priest on behalf of Jewry, humanity and all creation he sought to elicit positive D-vine energy in the form of blessing, abundance and prosperity, (Chessed and Hashpaot Tovoth). The day of one’s passing is associated with what that person exemplified. Consequently, the date of Aaron’s death is invested with the capacity to drawn down the same type of D-vine energy and blessing. Therefore the latent predisposition of 1 Av for D-vine blessing is why the Talmudic sages understood joy is only lessened when Av arrives and not completely replaced with grief, sorrow and mourning.(Sefer Chai V’Kiyam on Rosh Chodesh page 251 citing Pri Zaddik).
To amplify the Ramdonsker’s observation about the latent nature of Av Rabbi Yichiel ben Yekutiel ben Binyamin HaRofeh ZT’L ZY’A in Maalot HaMidot (Chapter 5) asserts based on Hosea 6:6 “For I desired acts of kindness (Chessed), and not sacrifice . . . .” “ . . . Presently after the Temple’s destruction acts of kindness effect atonement in its place. Indeed one who engages in acts of kindness merits to D-vine protection . . . .” (Maalot HaMidot Chap.5)
If one were to weave together both the Tifereth Shlomo and Maalot HaMidot what emerges is that 1 Av is infused with Aaron’s persona. Aaron who engaged in sacrificial worship in the Tabernacle and whose life was characterized with seeking peace and goodness for all (see Rashi BaMidbar 20:29) colors the beginning of Av and by extension the month as a whole with the character trait associated with the Temples destroyed during the month. Av therefore though a time of mourning has contained within these days a bright light of blessing. Knowing there is a path for receiving G-D’s blessing even as the nation keenly feels His wrath. How deep is G-D’s love and Providence that even in the depths when G-D seems so far away do not despair there is a crack in the darkness there is a ray of light and hope.