Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Of Nuclear Power, Babylonian gods and Shmiras Habris...

Part 1/2 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by GYE (See all authors)

Today is Rosh Chodesh Tamuz; a day of renewal, as well as the Yartzeit of Yosef Hatzadik's birth and passing.

In Babylonian tradition, Tamuz was a god that came to symbolize the death of nature in the heat of summer, and they named the month of "Tamuz" after this god. Saddam Hussein YM'Sh named his Osirak nuclear reactor "Tamuz" after this god as well.

The Zohar (in Chelek Beis, pg 78b) writes that Yakov Avinu took the months of Nissan and Iyar for himself (hence Yetziyas Mitzrayim, Kabbalas Hatorah), and Eisav took the months of Tamuz and Av for himself (and hence, the 17th of Tamuz and Tisha Be'av).

It occurred to me that Tamuz is the epitome of Kedusha vs. Tumah; as it says "Zeh Le'umas Zeh bara Elokim - Hashem created this one opposite the other". On the one hand, Eisav chose this month for himself and the Babylonians also chose it as a symbol of "death". But on the other hand, Hashem prepared the "refuah" (healing) before the "makah" (disease) and Yosef Hatzadik was born in the very beginning of Eisav's two month reign. The Pasuk says that when Moshiach comes "the house of Yosef will be a flame and the house of Eisav will be like straw". Yosef's flame of Kedusha will devour and eradicate the power of Eisav from the world.

How can we understand these two opposing forces in the month of Tamuz?

The "death" in the heat of summer is really a preparation for the renewal that comes in the rainy season. While everything in Israel (and Babylonia) becomes dry and withered in Tamuz, Yosef Hatzadik symbolizes bounty and plenty. According to Kabbalah, Yosef is the Middah of Yesod, which passes on all the heavenly light to "Malchus" (our world), as it says "ve'Yosef Hu Hamashbir lechol am ha'aretz - and Yosef was the provider for all the people of the land".

While Eisav dwells in the death itself, a Jew uses the death for renewal, turning it into endless divine bounty. A Jew is able to take his past falls and uses them as a spring-board for growth. Like a seed that needs to rot in the ground before it can sprout into a fruitful tree, Hashem wants us to use the times of darkness to appreciate the light that will inevitably follow.