15 Tammuz

Another little treat from MarGavriel:

On the Jewish calendar, the period of time between 9 Sivan and 16 Tammuz is nothing special — it (along with the period from 25 Tishré through Shabbath Sheqalim, on or right before Rosh Hodesh Adar II) might be termed “Ordinary Time“.

This time period is about to end — Tuesday will be 17 Tammuz, which begins the whole season of Three Weeks of Rebuke/Destruction, followed by the Seven Weeks of Consolation, and then the holiday season of Rosh Ha-shana and Yom Kippur (solemn) and Sukkoth and Shemini Atzereth (joyous).

But, almost at the very end of this Ordinary Time, there is a notable date: 15 Tammuz.

What, you may ask, is 15 Tammuz? Well, here is a bizarre story from the Babylonian Talmud, Hagiga 5b:

רב אידי אבוה דרבי יעקב בר אידי הוה רגיל דהוה אזיל תלתא ירחי באורחא וחד יומא בבי רב, והוו קרו ליה רבנן ‘בר בי רב דחד יומא’; חלש דעתיה, קרי אנפשיה: (איוב יב ד) שחוק לרעהו אהיה! אמר ליה רבי יוחנן: במטותא מינך לא תעניש להו רבנן. נפק ר’ יוחנן לבי מדרשא ודרש (ישעיהו נח, ב) ואותי יום יום ידרשון ודעת דרכי יחפצון וכי ביום דורשין אותו ובלילה אין דורשין אותו אלא לומר לך כל העוסק בתורה אפי’ יום אחד בשנה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו עסק כל השנה כולה

Rav Idi, the father of R. Jacob bar Idi, used to regularly spend three months travelling on the road, and one day in the study house. The rabbis used to call him “the one-day-student at the study house”. This upset him, and he referred to himself the verse (Job 12:4): “I am a laughingstock to his fellow!” R. Yohanan said to him: “Please do not punish the rabbis.” So R. Yohanan went to the study house, and gave the following homily: “The verse (Isaiah 58:2) says: They pursue Me [God] every single day, and desire to know My ways. But do we pursue Him only by day, and not by night? Rather, the verse teaches us that anyone who studies Torah, even a single day a year, is considered by Scripture to have studied Torah the entire year long.

Why three months on the road? Rashi comments:

מהלך שלשה חדשים היה מביתו לבית המדרש, ונוסע מביתו אחר הפסח ולומד יום אחד וחוזר לביתו לשמח את אשתו בחג הסוכות‬

It was a three-months-long journey from his house to the study-house. He would leave his house after Pesah (15 Nisan), and [arrive in the study house three months later], and study for a day, and then head out on the return-journey to his house, in order to be able to make his wife happy on the festival of Sukkoth (15 Tishré).

So, if he spent three months travelling after Pesah, and three months traveling before Sukkoth, what was the one day he spent in the study-house?

Why, 15 Tammuz — today!

Filed under Holidays, Talmud, Travel

One Response to “15 Tammuz”

  1. delightful!


    David A.M. Wilensky · June 28th, 2010 at 10:50 am

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik