tammuzThis previous Shabbat, we entered the new month of Tammuz. I have always found it fascinating that the names of our months are Babylonian and not Hebrew.

Tammuz is the fourth month of the Jewish calendar. It’s devoid of holidays, but filled with many yartzheits of tzaddikim, such as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Sanz-Klosenberg Rebbe, the Or HaChaim and Rabbi Cordovero.

The most significant date in the month of Tammuz is 17 Tammuz—Shiva Asar B’Tammuz—a day of fasting commemorating and ushering us into the period of 3 weeks of mourning, ending on Tisha b’Av. Many tragedies befell us on this date.

On 17 Tammuz, Moshe came down from Har Sinai with the two original Luchot (tablets) and, finding the Israelites dancing around a golden calf, smashed the Luchot. Many years later, on this day, the Babylonians breached the walls of Yerushalayim, beginning their destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash. And the tragedies do not end there.

But, back to the question of Tammuz and where the name comes from. There is a pasuk in Yechezkel that speaks about the worship of a Babylonian idol known as Tammuz. “Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was turned toward the north, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.”

This was a time of rampant idolatry among all the people, including the Jews. HaShem was showing our Prophet Yechezkel the cause for his fury. It is written that a statue of Tammuz was made, with eyes of lead, and in the heat, the lead would melt, and the people believed that tears were flowing down his face. Hence, the women were weeping for his sadness.

So, why have a month to remind us of our idolatrous ways? Chazal explain that the desire for idolatry was removed from us. Therefore, the negative pull away from Torah and HaShem and the dark energy inherent in the name Tammuz was transformed into positive light and rectification.  And this energy inherent in the name Tammuz is available to us today.

The energy of Tammuz allows us to take the undesirable and turn it into good, whether within ourselves or in the world around us.

According to the Kabbalah, each month comes with an area of healing. The area of healing in Tammuz is sight. The way we perceive another human being, situation or thing can bring either darkness or light into the world, into their life, or into ours. With this idea of transformation inherent in the name Tammuz, we can take a look around at what seems like an imploding world filled with pure chaos and craziness, and instead see it as the Divine Will of Hashem being carried through, transforming chaos and darkness into light, and bringing us closer to the era of Moshiach.