First, a piece of advice: when anyone — Jew or Gentile — invokes the ancient mystical knowledge of Kabbalah to either modify your behavior or extract money from your pocket, that’s your cue to quickly run in the opposite direction. Sometimes, however, the present situation is so clear that you don’t need a sorcerer to decode the omens: an apprentice — or even an apprentice’s apprentice — can take a crack at the low-hanging metaphysical fruit. To derive mystical but useful information about the war in Southern Lebanon, no crystal ball or red thread is necessary — all you need is a calendar.
Of course, the calendar you’ll want is not the kind found at a Hallmark shop or embedded into your Microsoft Outlook. Those calendars are mono-dimensional, solar-based thingies. Life is a 3D movie — do you expect to see nuance with one eye closed? No, you’ll need more sophisticated time construct.
These days, it doesn’t take an Einstein to know that space and time are actually the same concept. Observing a date anniversary is therefore potentially as profound and concrete as returning to a specific geographic place. But think it through — how useful would your Volvo GPS be if it tracked longitude but not latitude? In order to get back to the same “place” in time, you also will need two coordinates. You’re going to have to find a calendar that inter-calculates both solar time and lunar time. In the old days, people had wizards. Today they use websites (try hebcal.com). Or, save yourself some time and stay with me for a minute.
Judeo-Christian civilization is based on an astrologically integrated, twelve-month calendar that factors in both lunar and solar cycles. While the Western world now uses a solar based calendar, the annual reminder of the more sophisticated calculation is the so-called “moveable feast” of Easter — which is moving only relative to the current simplistic calendar — but is in fact static in a lunar/solar place. Thus (like always?), it falls to the Jews to hang on to the older-type calendar, which is why all their fixed-date holidays “move” each year across the secular calendar.
A simple overlay of this month’s events on top of the classic calendar would suggest that current hostilities are “right on schedule” — coinciding with what are traditionally considered the darkest, most blood-stained time of the year. The current war began in earnest ten days ago, on June 12, just as the Jewish calendar began a period called (with intentional banality) “the three weeks”. Beginning with the 17th of the month of Tammuz and ending on the ninth of the next month of Av, these 22 days constitute the lowest, darkest point of the annual journey through time. Starting in biblical times and moving right through to the present, Jewish scholarship asserts that bad events occur here over-frequently, concentrated on the final day — the 9th of Av. A few examples are the destruction of the two Jerusalem Temples in Jerusalem, the Spanish expulsion in 1492, and the beginning of World War 1. (Curiously, July 4, 1776 fell on the 17th of Tammuz, but I digress.)
Do not expect Israel to take extraordinary risks — diplomatic or military — until this three-week period ends on August 4. While not externally the most “religious” of Jews, Menachem Begin understood the profundity if not the divinity of the calendar, avoiding and postponing decisions during this time without ever alluding as to why. Similarly, the current leader, Olmert is certainly well aware of the calendar. Even with a superficial understanding of the deeper meanings, the history of this time period anticipates and explains the current hardships — and provides a “timemap” on how to work out of them.
As seen from the halfway point, Israel’s war will be remembered has having begun and ripened over the Three Weeks. Whether that will be the entire arc of the saga, or merely a preface to a wider conflict requires a prophet and not a pundit. And while abstract thinking should never be offered as consolation to someone suffering personal pain, from a distance the calendar whispers that the time to cry will not last forever.
Back to July 4, 1776: The sin of the golden calf, which culminated on the 17th of Tammuz, should have triggered the on-the-spot destruction of the Israelites. Their fate was reversed only by the intervention and petition of their leader Moses — invoking the 13 attributes of divine mercy, corresponding to the 13-day run up to the beginning of the month of Av. In classic Kabbalistic numerology, the value of the word “one” — which is the essence of the Creator — is equal to 13. Thirteen becoming one through divine mercy on July 4, 1776. Hmmm. (Make all checks payable to Judd Z. Magilnick – Santa Monica CA)