The 17th of Tamuz and Forgetfulness

The last message to the Jewish People, in Malachi 3:22, was, “Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant.” Rebbe Nachman reveals that when the first letter of these words (Zichru Torat Moshe) are rearranged, they spell “Tamuz” (Likutei Moharan I:217).

The question we should ask is, “What is the connection between remembering the Torah and the month of Tamuz?” On the 17th of Tamuz, Moshe descended from Mount Sinai with the Tablets of the Covenant. When he saw the people had built the Golden Calf, he cast the Tablets down and shattered them. Our Sages taught that “If the first Tablets would not have been broken, the Torah would never be forgotten by the Jewish People” (Eruvin 54).

Rebbe Nachman teaches that in Tamuz we must rectify forgetfulness. In order to shed light on this, we must look at the source of forgetfulness, the sin of the Golden Calf. After having just experienced Hashem’s revelation on Mount Sinai, the people grew impatient waiting for Moshe to return and cried out to Aharon, “Make us a god!”

This was a terrible mistake. “You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness” (Shemot 20:3). This is avoda zara, foreign worship, idolatry.

It was not only then that people crave to bring Hashem down in physical form. This tendency is what prevents us from approaching Hashem and experiencing the true, inner essence of His Torah.

Rebbe Nachman states:

Torah is spiritual, and only those who are pure and honest, and whose intellect is spiritual will be able to grasp the entire Torah without forgetting anything. For spirituality is not restricted by the limitations of space; therefore, the entire Torah can spread and settle in a person’s mind.

However, one who reduced the words of the Torah into physical matter causes the Torah to assume physical proportions — according to what can fit one’s mind, and no more. If one wants to achieve more, one will necessarily lose what was already there. As we see with physical matter, that when you fill a vessel that is already full, the contents spill out. This is the source of forgetfulness.

This is the meaning of “The Book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth… In other words, be careful not to attribute any physicality to the Torah.

Likutei Moharan 110

In order to repair forgetfulness, we must be attached to Hashem while learning Torah. We can sit and study Torah all day long, but if we lose sight of the fact that we are learning Torah to understand Hashem and His greatness better, and to draw closer to Hashem, studying Torah becomes no different that studying any secular wisdom, G-d forbid. Then, we can forget the Torah we have learned…

Based on, Beyond Time, by Erez Moshe Doron

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The Beauty of Breslov

This site is dedicated to the teachings of Rebbe Nachman and his followers, Chassidut, Kabbalah, and Non-Chassidic Torah Giants... By Yaakov Shmuel

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