The
months of the Jewish year are called in the Torah by number only (the
first month, second month, etc.) Over time, during the exile, the months
assumed the names given to them by host cultures and thus the “Jewish”
months as we know them today are actually Babylonian in origin. These
names were so common, that 8 out of 12 are mentioned in the later books
of the prophets. 


Even
though the name Av is Babylonian in origin, one may note the subtle nuance of the name. Av means father, and in the fifth
month of the Hebrew year, God’s persona of Father is truly
demonstrated. 


It
is stated in the Book of Proverbs (13:24): “One who spares his rod
hates his child, but he who loves him, disciplines him in his youth.”
God warned the Jewish people that their misguided behavior would result
in disaster, but they ignored His warnings. Thus the beginning of the
month of Av was the time of the destruction of both Holy Temples,
disasters which the Jewish community commemorates with an annual day of
mourning on the ninth of Av 
(Tisha B’Av). When
He allowed the Babylonians (and then the Romans) to conquer Jerusalem,
destroy the Holy Temple(s) and drive the Jewish people into exile, God
had one fatherly goal in mind–that the Jewish people should see the
error of their ways and correct themselves. 


A
parent who punishes a child still loves the child and still wishes to
share in the child’s happiness. Rejoicing is also an important facet of
the month of Av. 
Tu B’Av (literally
15th of Av) is a day of tremendous rejoicing in Israel when in days of yore, unmarried maidens would go out to the field to find a
husband. Thus in Av, after God completes the role of disciplinarian, He
comes forward to watch, and enjoy, as His children rejoice. 





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