IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOU!
The B’nei Yissachar (Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Shapiro of Dynov, 1783-1841) writes that upon uttering H-shem’s name in the Mussaf prayer on Rosh Chodesh of each month which ends “Blessed are you H-shem, Who sanctifies Israel and the New Moons.”, one should concentrate on a specific word combination taken from particular verses corresponding to each month and he lists each of the twelve word combinations for each month. The verse that corresponds to the month of (Menachem) Av is: , “Take heed and accept, Yisroel! [On] this day” (Devarim, 27, 9 -Parshas Ki Savo).
Rabbi Shraga Feivish Schneibalg (mid-20th century Rabbi in London) of blessed memory offers the following explanation in his Shraga HaMeir as to why this particular expression corresponds to the month of Av, the month in which we mourn for the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, may it be built speedily in our days. He bases his explanation on the incident recorded in the Talmud Sanhedrin 98a “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi met Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet) and asked him “when will Ben Dovid (Moshiach, the Redeemer. According to tradition Moshiach will be a descendant of King David) come [and redeem the Jewish people]? Eliyahu said, “Ask Moshiach directly” Eliyahu told Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi where to find Moshiach and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi found him and asked him, ‘When will you come Master [and redeem the Jewish people]?’, ‘Today’, was his answer. On his returning to Eliyahu, the latter enquired, ‘ ‘He spoke falsely to me,’ he [Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi] rejoined, ‘stating that he would come to-day, but has not.’ He [Eliyahu] answered him, ‘This is what he said to you, “Today, if you will hear his voice.‘ (Psalms 95, 7, thus he made his coming conditional-the condition was unfulfilled; for a segment of the Jewish people have yet to hearken to the voice of H-shem by studying Torah and performing His Mitzvos.)
This, continues Rabbi Schneibalg is our consolation; that we know that the Final Redemption is dependent on ourselves. When , “Take heed and accept, Yisroel! [On] this day”, we will merit ‘This’ day – the day of Redemption. It is within our control to hasten Moshiach’s coming and with it, the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash and Yerushalayim. This is the reason why this verse corresponds to the month of [Menachem] Av, the month in which we yearn for the Bais Hamikdash and the Holy City to be returned to its glory.
Rabbi Schneibalg cites the Alshich Hakadosh who writes in Parshas Va’eschanan (Devarim 4, 39) on the verse, , “You shall know this day and take to your heart [that Hashem, He is the God – in heaven above and on the earth below – there is none other].” “this day”, alludes to the sun – that which establishes the day. The sun causes conflicting results; while darkening the face of man it whitens the flax; it softens wax and coagulates salt. Although the sun produces varying results, it itself does not change. It continues to be the same sun carrying on the same function; the difference is in the recipient. It is the same with Hashem – the source of everything; the source is unchanging but every person, every creature, receives according to his fundamental nature. The one who does not look to better himself will be a receptacle of the attribute of judgment; while the one who works on himself to refine his character and aspires to spirituality will become a receptacle for God’s benevolence and mercy.
The sun has the capacity to bring blessing to mankind, but only for the one who prepares himself to receive blessing; , “The blessing: that you hearken to the commandments of Hashem, your God, that I commanded you today.” At the same time it can be a curse to mankind, , “And the curse: if you do not hearken to the commandments of Hashem, your God, and you stray from the path that I command you today”
[Commentators understand this verse to mean that a person must always look at himself as if the world is divided precisely between good and bad. If one does even one mitzvah or good deed he can tip himself along with the entire world to the side of merit; to good and blessing, but if he commits one sin, he tips himself and the entire world along with him to the bad side; to the side of guilt and curse!]
This is the opportunity that the month of Av presents, despite all its calamities and solemnity, , “Take heed and accept, Yisroel! [On] this day”. Take heed! Each and every one of us has the power to bring the world to the Final Redemption and restoring Yerushalayim and the Bais Hamikdash!
The Bais Hamikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred; it can only be restored with unconditional love. God’s justice is , measure for measure; His mercy is aroused as well measure for measure and our Sages teach that , God’s attribute of conferring good is many times greater than what He metes out for justice. It’s in our hands to overturn justice to clemency; despair to redemption.
May we all merit seeing it speedily in our days!