Rejoicing in a Month of Misfortune - Part 2
by Rabbi Yehudah Prero
In the last post, we started to discuss the six reasons the Gemora lists for
why the 15th of Av is a day of happiness, as the Mishna says "There is no
day as festive as the 15th of Av...." We pick up in this issue with the
fourth reason offered.
The fourth reason the Gemora mentions is that Ula. He said that the wicked
king Yerovom ben Nevat ( the first king of the Kingdom of Israel, [as
opposed to the kingdom of Judah,] after King Sh'lomo) had placed sentries on
the road leading to the Temple, to prevent the Jews from going to the Temple
on the holidays. This was an attempt to get the Jews to worship idols. On
the 15th of Av, the king Hoshea ben Elah (a king from the Kingdom of Israel,
approximately the 18th after Yerovom), removed these sentries, allowing the
Jews to once again have access to the Temple and to serve Hashem - hence, a
cause for celebration.
The fifth reason is that offered by Rav Masnah. As we mentioned in YomTov #
31, on the 9th of Av, the inhabitants of the city of Betar were killed.
Throughout the entire reign of Hadrian, the burial of these people was
forbidden. The corpses, although they all lay exposed, miraculously did not
decompose. Finally, years later on the 15th of Av, the bodies were buried,
and given the proper respect due to them
The final reason mentioned is that of Rabba and Rav Yosef. In the time of
the Temple, wood was collected throughout the year for use on the altar. The
wood used had to be free of worms. One way of ensuring that the wood was
"worm-free" was to let the wood dry out, and worms only inhabit moist wood.
The wood that was collected for the altar was sun dried, to assure that it
would be fit for use. On the 15th of Av each year, they stopped gathering
wood. This is because as of this date, the heat of the sun is inadequate to
sufficiently dry out freshly cut wood, and therefore it would be difficult
to assure that the wood would be fit for use on the altar. As the 15th of Av
marked the completion of the performance of this Mitzvah, it was proclaimed
a festive occasion.
Check out all of the posts on The Three Weeks: 17 Tammuz - 9 Av Mourning the Destruction. Head over to
http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/ to access the YomTov Page. Then click on the icon for the holiday of your choice.
For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.