Shiva Asar BeTammuz: “A holiday unto the Lord tomorrow!”

Moses hurled the tablets:
they crashed on rocky ground,
splintered into fragments –
a shroud of stillness fell.

The battering ram punched through
and smashed the city wall:
an avalanche of boulders
breached the fearful silence.

Broken tablets, broken walls,
broken vessels scattered –
once the shards are gathered
mourning turns to joy.


The Golden Calf was made on the 16th Tammuz, and Aaron declared, “A holiday unto the Lord tomorrow!” (Shemot 32:5). The Sefat Emet teaches in the name of R Isaac Luria, that the 17th Tammuz will indeed be a festival one day. The Sefat Emet identifies the broken tablets and the breached walls with the broken vessels of Lurianic Kabbalah. All of these breaks have to be mended by Tikkun Olam. Then, he says, the words of Zechariah will come true, “The fast of the fourth month…will be a time of gladness and joy.” (Zech 8:19).

This year there is very poignant sense of “brokenness” in the shadow of the current situation in Israel. The shards have not yet been gathered…

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