Today is Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, the first day of the new month of Tammuz on the Hebrew calendar.
Aside from entering the auspicious month of Tammuz, wherein the 17th of Tammuz commemorates the breach of the walls of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., the three weeks leading up to Tish b’Av begins on that day. On the ninth of Av, both the first Temple in 586 B.C.E., and the second Temple in 70 C.E. were destroyed. Yet, we look forward to the building of the Third Temple, in like manner that light always follows darkness at dawn. According to the natural cycle of seasonal changes, renewal also follows decay, like Spring follows Winter.
Tammuz is a month of reckoning, whereof we may focus on ourselves, in terms of our own progress and lack thereof, taking stock of our weaknesses, as well as our strengths. Our spiritual reserve, may only be dependent upon a dwindling sense of righteousness; perhaps, akin to the sins that lead to the destruction of the Temples amongst those two generations, especially sinas chinam, baseless enmity. Yet, I take hope, for our generation is the generation of return, both in the sense of teshuvah (repentance), and an actual return to Israel:
“And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt bethink thyself among all the nations, whither the L-RD thy G-d hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the L-RD thy G-d, and hearken to His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul; that then the L-RD thy G-d will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither the L-RD thy G-d hath scattered thee.”
- Deuteronomy 30:1-3, JPS 1917 Tanach