The Hebrew month of Av is the fifth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.

The name Av may have come from Aviv meaning spring. It may have come from the word for father אב or אבא. Since Hebrew is a root language words build out from the center and so the month of Av could also be derived from the root אבה which means “to be willing,” “to surround,” “to embrace.”

This month exemplifies life in that it demonstrates the high and the low and the blending of the two in life. Traditionally the low point on the Jewish calendar is the 9th of Av. We have associated all tragedies in Jewish history with that date. Our sages tell us that on the 9th of Av the sin of the spies and the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem occurred. Later Rabbis continued the view associating acts of horror in the Inquisition, and the Holocaust to the 9th of Av. It is not an auspicious time to start something positive such as married life or a business venture. Birth on the other hand has high hopes on that date as we shall discuss further.

But Av also contains a sweet highpoint as well. It contains the Jewish equivalent of the modern Valentine ’s Day, the day of finding one’s Bshert one’s soul-mate.

These two dates the 9th and the 15th of Av, the low and the high blend in the teaching of our sages who taught that “the Mashiah will be born on the 9th of Av. We use the imagery of bride and groom in the relationship of Jews and the Mashiah. The Mashiah comes to redeem us to complete us to bring us to spiritual balance just as finding our bride or groom brings us to balance and completes us. After the birth on the 9th of Av the Mashiah will reveal hirself to hir spouse and betroth hir on the 15th of Av.

Letter: tet.

The letter tet, can be thought to resemble a womb. Its number value is 9, corresponding to the 9 months of pregnancy. The 9th of Av is to be the birthday of Mashiah. All these tie in to make the letter tet (the ninth letter of the Alef Bet) to be the letter associated with Av.

Mazal: aryeh (Leo–lion).

The aryeh symbolizes finding spiritual meaning and positive power in the seeming randomness of life. For example: In the words of our sages as found in Yalkut Shimoni, Yermiyahu, 259: “The lion came in the month of the lion and destroyed the lion in order that the lion will come and in the month of the lion and rebuild the lion.” This is a mystical moment of empathy. But to understand this mantra and its meaning, we need to unpack it. “The lion (Nevudchanetzar, who is referred to as a lion in Yermiyahu 4:7) came on the month of the lion (Av) and destroyed the lion (the Temple, more specifically the altar of sacrifice), in order that the lion (referring to G, from the quote in Amos 3:8 ‘the lion roars, who shall not fear’) will come on the month of the lion (Av again) and rebuild the lion (the Temple).

There is a parallel teaching in the Gematria of aryeh. Aryeh = 216 which converts back to gevurah which means power or might. Gevurah is one of the emanations from G on the Sefirotic tree. Gevurah also means discipline, as in the discipline to grow from every experience and to accept that destruction too, is part of growth. Playing the Gematria game again, if you add 216 as 2+1+6 we get 9. The same result as when we add 7+2. When we translate 72 into Hebrew letters we get Hesed which is compassion and loving-kindness, the partner to Gevurah on the Sefirotic tree. Hesed is connected with creation just as its partner and opposite (think Yin Yang), Gevurah is attached to destruction. The Divine power which “builds” all of reality, is Hesed. As it says in Psalm 89:3: “the world is built by Hesed.” Thus we find in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 1:10) the aryeh appears to the right, the place of Hesed, in the Merkava, Divine Chariot.

Tribe: Shimon.

The name Shimon comes from the word “to hear.” The Haet, the missed opportunity of our people to enter the Land of Israel at the time off the spies, on the 9th of Av was because of their speech and our hearing. They spoke fearfully rather than heartfully. We heard fearfully rather than faithfully. Av calls us to listen with more than our ears and speak more deeply than with our tongues.

In Torah, when Moshe blesses every tribe, only Shimon is not blessed. Shimon is the only tribe that Moses did not explicitly bless at the end of the Torah. The Rabbis interpret the reason as having to do with the idolatry that took place at Pe’or. The name Shimon can be divided into the two words which spell sham avon, “there is vanity,” for idol worship is “eye-doll” worship the worst form of vanity.

We find another relation of speech to hearing that attaches to Shimon. In the division of the land of Israel to the twelve tribes, Shimon inherited his portion within the larger portion of Yehudah. That happens with no other tribe and therefore stands out as a Remez a key clue for understanding on a deeper level. When we play the Gematria game with the two names Shimon and Yehudah a new clue comes to light: Shimon-466 plus Yehudah-30 = 496 which is malchut or kingdom.

Yehudah corresponds to the month of Nisan. As we have seen before, Nisan is connected to the sense of speech. Shimon corresponds to the month of Av. Shimon is related to Yehudah and Nisan is related to Av through one interpretation of the meaning of Av. The word Av is found in Aviv which means spring and is the name in Torah for the month of Nissan).

There is a powerful lesson here. In both hearing and speaking wonders are wrought and destruction drawn forth

Sense: hearing.

“To hear” in Hebrew means “to understand,” “to bring it to heart.” To hear another is to hear with our hearts hir dilemma and empathize with hir. Hearing is receiving which is the literal meaning of the word Kabbalah.

In the beginning of Isaiah (read on the Shabbat before the 9th of Av), it says: “if you are willing (tovu , from the root Av) and hear (the sense of Av), you shall share in the goodness of the land.” Empathy then, is the key to sharing the goodness of life with others on this planet. And empathy begins with the ability to hear the voice of the other..

The sense of hearing also represents the sense of inner balance. Imbalance leads to the fall, it is the source of our own destruction. When we truly hear and discern truth flows and falseness fades, as it says in Job 12:11 and 34:3: “the ear discerns words” ozen malin tivchan and the acronym formed by these words is “emet,” “truth.”

Controlling limb: left kidney.

Ok, this is a ‘tuffy’

Kabbalists tell us that the two kidneys are the “male” and “female” advisors of the soul. The right kidney advises how to balance one’s character through the process of careful introspection. The left kidney advises how to absorb truth into one’s consciousness.

The word for kidney, kulyah, comes from kol, “all.” Kol = 50. The last two letters form the first two letters of G’s name, “The voice of G!” It is something to think about when the kidneys call us to action.