|"Aryeh," Leo the Lion, 6th Century Beit Alfa Synagogue, Israel|
The Hebrew Month of Av, which runs from July 13 through August 10th this year, contains both the depths and the heights of the spiritual/emotional energies of the Jewish Year. Our motto this month should be: "When they go low, we go high!"
The Sun is the planetary ruler of Chodesh Av and the Zodiac Sign of Leo, the Fixed Fire Sign, is as fiery as its solar ruler and can roar with both exaltation and indignation like the aryeh, lion (Leo) for which it is named. Proud and passionate, charismatic and dramatic, natural leaders with built-in “star power,” Leo is the king/queen of the jungle. Bask in Leo’s warmth, protection, generosity, and loyalty or suffer the wrath of outraged royalty if you dare!
The month of Av is associated with the Tribe of Shimon, whose flag is decorated with the gates of Shechem, where Shimon and his brother Levi wiped out the entire city in revenge for the kidnap and rape of their sister Dinah.
Shimon’s murderous rage reflects Leo’s loyalty and protectiveness towards those they feel responsible for. For naturally noble Leo, noblesse oblige IS “tikkun olam.” Who or what would YOU burn to the ground to protect and defend those nearest and dearest to you? That's Leo's energy when aroused.
The constricted “bein hametzarim” (between the narrow straits) energy of the month between Rosh Chodesh Av and Tisha b’Av takes an abrupt upswing after the 10th of Av, culminating on Tu b’Av, which is the Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse on July 27th.
The month of Av is often refered to as "Menachem Av," especially after Tisha b'Av is behind us and Tu b'Av is upon us. "Menachem" means to comfort, and comfort is what the warm, generous, loving heart of Leo does best.
July 28th is “Shabbat Nachamu,” the Shabbat in which the Haftarah from Isaiah 40 is read, beginning “Nachamu, Nachamu, Ami,” “Be comforted, Be comforted, My People,” is read.This comes right on the heels of Tu b'Av, which our tradition tells us is one of the two most joyous days of the year.
“Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: There were no days more joyous than the 15th of Av (Tu b'Av) and Yom Kippur, for on those days the daughters of Jerusalem would go out in borrowed white clothing, in order not to embarrass those who did not have...and the daughters of Jerusalem would dance in the vineyards.” (Mishna, Ta’anit 4:8).
Let us comfort one another with words of encouragement. Allow Leo’s emotional generosity to inspire us to be as generous to others as the wealthy daughters of Jerusalem who loaned white clothing to their less advantaged sisters, so that none would suffer social ostracizing shame, and all could dance joyously in the vineyards as one.