In the month of Av, one should decrease in joy, says the Mishnah. Rosh Chodesh is usually a joyful celebration, but Rosh Chodesh Av is shrouded in sadness, caught in the middle of three weeks of mourning. The month of Av holds the day when both of our Holy Temples were destroyed: Tisha B’Av. Tisha B’Av is marked each year with 25 hours of fasting, praying and mourning—sitting on low seats, among other restrictions. For the Nine Days prior (aside from Shabbat), beginning from Rosh Chodesh, people abstain from anything festive, like eating meat or drinking wine. The Ninth of Av also marks several other calamities in Jewish history. It’s a dark, dreary time.

The word av means “father” in Hebrew. It is customary to add the name Menachem, and call this month Menachem Av. Menachem means “comforter” or “consoler.” The Rebbe explains that there has to be a reason for such a warm, loving name for such a deeply sad month.

What does it mean to be a father? It’s easy to be a father when your child is bright, kind and talented. It is easy to be a father when your child sails through life, is respectful and generous, and has the praise of the community and neighborhood. The true test of fatherhood is when your child is more challenging. When your child rebels and is antagonistic, when your child lives life differently than you had hoped, this is when being a father pushes one to their limits.

And this is when you see what a true father is—someone who loves their child unconditionally, one who can love despite wrongdoings and mistakes.

The destruction of our Holy Temples was caused by our own wrongdoing—our own lack of kindness to each other, our own distraction from what was important. The name of the month, Menachem Av, is a reminder that yes, G‑d took our temples from us, and yes, this is a painful time, but He is still our father, and He still loves us despite our misdeeds.1

Av begins as a dark month, with mourning and sadness. But a mere six days after Tisha B’Av, there is a very different date on the calendar: 15 Av, which is actually the happiest day of the year. This may come as a surprise, as nowadays 15 Av is barely marked or celebrated. So, we find ourselves faced with this intense duality in a single month: the happiest day and the saddest day within a week of each other.

On the 15th of Av, both the sun and moon are full and at their peak, connecting the masculine energy of the universe represented by the sun with the female energy of the universe represented by the moon. This is one of the highest forms of connection.

In Tammuz, we discussed how we had the power of transformation. Now, too, we are given the superpower of transformation but with a different pathway. In Av, we speak specifically of connection. When we connect with others, when we sit with others in their pain, we have the power to transform the deepest sadness into the truest joy. It is from this connection that we emerge from the great sadness of the first half and move into a new space of joy and happiness.

It is this connection that can withstand pain, this love connection that remains strong beyond external and chaotic circumstances, that is the undercurrent of the month of Av.


Dwell, for a moment, on a challenging time in your life.

Close your eyes. Think back to those emotions, if you can.

Now think of the people around you who were there for you.

Think of the connections you have today that heal you. Think of those who loved you unconditionally.

Think of those who you love unconditionally, those whoyou would love through thick and thin.

Think of the power of that connection, that unadulterated, pure love that can heal the greatest hurts.

This is our energy this month; it courses through our veins, this ability to love.

Show yourself this unconditional love. Share it with the people around you.

Connect. It has the greatest strength within it.