Kavanot: Rosh Chodesh Av
The Kabbalists use different verses to focus on the Name of God during the Mussaf – Additional prayer – on Rosh Chodesh – The New Month. They use the following verse on Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av: ”Moses and the Cohanim, the Levites, spoke to all Israel, saying, Be Attentive and Hear O Israel.” (Deuteronomy 27:9)
The Ibn Ezra explains that there are two steps, “be attentive”, and “hear”. He applies the steps of this verse to Shema: One must be attentive to what one hears in Shema.
How does this reflect God’s attributes? How do we use this to concentrate on God’s Name in our Rosh Chodesh prayer?
God speaks to us in layers. We must listen, as the people of Israel did not to the warning of the prophets before the destruction of Jerusalem. We must listen to and hear the messages God sends, even during a month of tragedy; the month of Av.
Once we listen and hear, we must learn to pay attention to what we hear and apply the lessons we learn.
God’s layered speech is a gift, especially during a time when we experience God as distant. This Name empowers us to discover the layers of God’s messages.
II. The Hebrew of “Pay Attention” is “Haskeit”, which shares the same root as Succot.
This Name indicates God as Cover of Protection even when all seems terrible.
The roof of the Succah allows us to see through the small open spaces, as in Yiskah – To see with the Divine Spirit. This derivation of God’s Name allows us to “see” God’s Presence in small points of light even when most of the world occludes His light, as the S’chach of the Succah.
III. Haskeit is also related to “Sucatim” in Chronicles I, Chapter: They were skilled at understanding others.
Sinat Chinam – Hatred without a Reason – caused the destruction of the Second Temple. This derivation of God’s Name empowers us to hear others with greater sensitivity and awareness, so that we can repair the Sinat Chinam with Ahavat Chinam.
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