The summer heat is descending, the air-conditioners are going on, pools are open, the grills are heating up—all signs of the season. The month of Tammuz aligns with the beginning of the summer, and that’s where we find ourselves right now—at the start of a month that is physically warm in temperature and also warm in spirituality, full of G‑dly revelation. Judaism discusses the concept of a pendulum: The greater potential a person has, the deeper they can fall; the greater room for revelation, the greater room for obstruction and pain. The month of Tammuz presents us with this pendulum effect.

Historically a Bleak Month

Tammuz is not historically a happy month for the Jewish people. It is, in fact, a dark month of mourning. We begin what is known as the “Three Weeks” that lead us up to Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar—the day the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed. We fast on the 17th of Tammuz, which marks the day the Jewish people worshipped the Golden Calf and Moses descended the mountain and shattered the first set of Tablets engraved with the 10 Commandments. Years later, Jerusalem’s walls were breached by the Romans, which led to the destruction of the Second Temple.

With all this sadness and destruction, it’s hard to understand how Tammuz is a month of G‑dly revelation. G‑d’s presence feels awfully hidden.

Sadness Transformed Into Elation

When the redemption finally arrives, these mournful summer months will be the most joyous; these days of sadness will be transformed into days of elation. And that is where the energy, the intention and the magic of Tammuz lies: in the power of transformation. In this month, we have the power to transform negative energy, toxins, depression and sadness into joy and positivity.

Each month has a zodiac, and according to Kabbalistic teachings the zodiac of Tammuz is Cancer, which has the symbol of a crab. A crab is not a kosher animal, yet there is still a lesson for us in the way it lives its life. A crab is a crustacean, which means it has an exoskeleton. Every so often, the external shell of the crab cracks, dries and sheds, which allows the crab to grow larger, after which it grows another shell.

Breaking the Mold

Transformation! We can break the mold. Sometimes, we believe that we are so limited. We tell ourselves, “I am bad,” “I am not capable of more,” “I cannot change,” “It’s my parents’ fault,” “This is how I was raised,” etc. We believe we are stuck within our negative mindset, surrounded by hopelessness and pain. Tammuz teaches us otherwise; be a crab, it says. Break out of your shell! This is your time to transform yourself.

Transformation often comes with pain. The Previous Rebbe discusses that if a child is now a size 6, but they are squeezed into a size 4, they will feel pain. They will feel constricted; it will be tight around their shoulders, it will hurt. But that’s not a punishment. It’s a reminder that they have grown, and it’s time to enlarge their garments. Chassidic teachings explain that our spiritual garments are our thoughts, speech and actions. If it is time for us to shed the old, that may cause pain. We are outgrowing our garments, and it’s time to shed what has sufficed in the past and create something new, something healing, something transformative.

We step into Tammuz, and we wonder at the pain that lies within this month. We are reminded at the start that this is a month of infinite, joyful potential. And we have the power to transform it.


Are you lying down as you read this? Are you sitting at your computer? Is your back hunched? Is your body comfortable?

Shift yourself. Stretch your neck. Change your position. Feel that small power of transformation in your body—the ability to make a choice that has a positive impact.

Now, think to yourself about one thing you feel limited about, something that feels constricting in your life.

Perhaps it’s an unhealthy relationship that you’ve been tolerating. Perhaps it’s a fear of expressing yourself. Perhaps it’s a circumstance that is no longer working for you.

Now, think to yourself about the power of Tammuz. Think about the pendulum; where there is great pain, constriction and sadness, there is potential for immense joy. Think of this pain as a garment that no longer fits; you can break out and transform it into something so much greater. The power has been given to us as this month begins. The rest is up to us.1