Moon Over Maui

A Jewish Mystical Journey through the Year

I’m Afraid of the Av Moon

Written By: Jueli Garfinkle - Jul• 29•11

With only 4 percent of the Tammuz moon still reflecting in the sky, my annual concern and secret fear about the approaching moon of Av is beginning to boil. I’ve always been afraid to embrace the moon cycle of Av. It asks that we look at and embrace epic levels of pain and destruction, sadness and tragedy. Not just our own, but of the world’s. And not just to look at war, famine, greed, devastation, and blood spill that is taking place right now, but also to remember it in relation to the entire history of people.

Just writing that sentence freaks me out. My head shakes, my belly churns, my heart is flooded with overwhelm; everything in me screeches NO! I’m fascinated by people who are attracted to the dark underbelly of living, but I’m not naturally one of them. So, typically, I skip studying the moon cycle of Av. Instead, I spend the moon of Av preparing for the next moon cycle Elul (which is easier for me to embrace and happens to be my personal favorite).

My Boy Was Born Rosh Chodesh Av 5767/July 2007 (Pictured with Sis)

Four years ago, my boy was born on Rosh Chodesh Av. You’d think that would have been enough to shake awake my interest. He came into the world gorgeous and healthy, but crying whenever he wasn’t sleeping, eating, or being bounced on an exercise ball 100 times a minute for hours on end. The medical community labeled his behavior colic. I didn’t know what to call it. I knew I was tired and my thighs were sore from the physical exertion. I secretly whispered in his ear, “Grow! Grow!”

About 10 days later, I joined my boy’s crying and our joint spillage of tears went nonstop for another four weeks. Perhaps it was due by my boy’s arrival during that year’s annual worldwide mourning fest of Av. Perhaps it was what the medical community labels post-partum anxiety, or what my man calls irrational behavior. I didn’t care what it was called or why it was happening, I just wanted it to stop.

Secretly, I Whispered, “Grow! Grow!”

Last year, a dear friend’s second-born son arrived during the moon of Av. Days before his birth she called to ask me about the moon cycle. Tell me what to think about Av, she prompted. I confessed that I was terrified of the month and knew basically nothing. She told me straight out that I had to get over it.

And so it goes.

This year, Av 5771/July 2011, I commit to read, write, study, and meditate on the moon of Av. I will be open to its apparent wisdom and beauty, no matter how dark it may be. Here in the final days of Tammuz, which are intricately linked to the first two weeks of Av, I begin the journey in earnest, though I’m shaky and resistant, too. I will share with you what I learn along the way.

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