Dear Jew in the City-
Two people have told me that July 4, 1776 was on the 17th of Tammuz. Wikipedia confirms this. Does that indicate something negative about America?
Thanks for your question. Rav Salman Mutzafi (a student of the Ben Ish Chai and the author of Siddur HaRashash), Rav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg (a student of Rav Hutner, the son-in-law of Rav Ruderman, and later the rosh yeshiva of Ner Yisroel) and Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Spiegel (a student of Rav Ahron Kotler) were all born on 17 Tammuz; does that imply something negative about them? For that matter, we have a tradition that Moshiach will be born on Tisha b’Av (Yerushalmi Brachos 2:4, Eicha Rabbah 1:51); does that suggest something bad about Moshiach? Clearly not!
While bad things did happen on 17 Tammuz and 9 Av, not everything that happens on those days is necessarily bad. Things that happen on those days can also be good. Remember such verses as Psalms 30:12 (“You turned my mourning into dancing for me, You removed my sackcloth and dressed me with gladness”) and Jeremiah 31:12 (“…I will turn their mourning into joy, comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow”), among others. These are sad days but not everything that happens on them need necessarily be a portent for disaster.
Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
JITC Educational Correspondent