1. Tammuz is the Fourth Month

Tammuz is the fourth month, counting from the springtime month of Nisan when our nation left Egypt.

Read: 20 Exodus Facts Every Jew Should Know

2. It Always Has 29 Days

The Hebrew months (with the exception of Cheshvan and Kislev) alternate in length. One has 29 days, the next has 30, etc. Sandwiched between Sivan and Av, both with 30 days, the month of Tammuz always has 29.

Read: 10 Sivan Facts Every Jew Should Know

3. Tammuz Means “Heating”

Rashi explains that Tammuz means “heating,” like a glowing furnace—an appropriate name for the month which occurs at the height of summer (in the Northern Hemisphere), roughly coinciding with July.1

Read: Who Controls the Weather?

4. It Shares a Name With an Idol Mentioned in Ezekiel

Ezekiel tells us that G‑d showed him the troubling vision of women in the Holy Temple “sitting, making the Tammuz weep.”2 Rashi explains that Tammuz was an idol that could be heated from the inside. Its eyes, which were plugged with soft lead, would melt from the heat and appear to be weeping. When this happened, the people claimed that it was begging for an offering.

Read: Why Tammuz Is Named for an Idol

5. It’s Associated with Esau

The Zohar tells us that the first three months are associated with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Tammuz and Av, the fourth and fifth months, were taken by Jacob’s evil twin brother, Esau.3 Not surprisingly, both Holy Temples were destroyed during this time (one by the Romans, heirs of Esau).

Read: Esau’s Autobiography

6. The Zodiac of this Month is Cancer

Cancer is a crab, which grows in water. The Midrash links this to Moses, who was hidden in the water by his mother. For this reason, G‑d deferred the final destruction of the Temple until the following month of Av, when Moses’ protection was no longer dominant.4

Read: Moses, the Man of G‑d

7. Five Tragic Things Happened on Tammuz 17

  1. Moses broke the Tablets when he saw the Jewish people worshipping the Golden Calf.
  2. During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Jews were forced to cease offering daily sacrifices due to the lack of sheep.
  3. Apostomos burned the holy Torah.
  4. An idol was placed in the Holy Temple.
  5. The walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 CE, after a lengthy siege.5

Read: History, Laws, and Customs of 17 Tammuz

8. Tammuz 17 Is a Fast Day

The sages declared Tammuz 17 a day of fasting and mourning for the terrible events that happened on this day. Referred to by the prophet as “the fourth [month] fast,” this is one of the four fasts that will be converted to a day of joy and feasting with the arrival of Moshiach. May it happen soon.6

Read: 15 Moshiach Facts Every Jew Should Know

9. The Final Part of the Month is Mournful

Tammuz 17 starts three weeks of mourning (known as “The Three Weeks” or “Between the Straits”), during which joy is tempered and spiritual sensitivity is heightened, as we recall the tragedies of the past. As we anticipate its rebuilding, this is an especially opportune time to study the intricate details of the Holy Temple.

Read: 9 Little-Known Facts About the Holy Temples

10. It Also Has Happy Times

Tammuz is not entirely without good. The 3rd day of the month is when G‑d miraculously stopped the sun in its tracks, allowing Joshua and his armies to deal a decisive blow to their enemies (it is also the day of passing of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory). On the same date in 1927, the death sentence that had been issued by the Soviets for the Sixth Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory, was lifted. Ten days later, on the 12th and 13th of Tammuz, his subsequent sentence to exile was cleared and he was released from prison.

Read: Why Isn’t the Day G‑d Stopped the Sun for Joshua a Holiday?