Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

With summer in full force and Tisha B'Av having just passed, I was reminded of a post from last year about Tisha B'Av that got me thinking. Last year I focused on the fact that many translations of Kinos seem to mistranslate a line from Kinah 37. The Kinah mentions how Orion seems to only rise in the month of Tammuz from Eretz Yisrael's vantage point. Click here for an depth discussion as to what the correct translation is and why the more common Kinos seem to have not translated this phrase properly.

I started thinking how last year I was so focused on the technical translation that for some reason I did not pay that much attention as to why this fact might be pertinent. Who really cares about Orion's rising? Why is it important that it is during Tammuz?

After thinking about this for a few minutes I thought that perhaps the author was portraying the fact that Orion (also known as Kesil, "The Fool") only has gained power in the beginning of the summer. The invading armies were succesful at breaching the walls of Yerushalayim in Tammuz, just like Orion seems to come to strength in this month. Recently I posted some of the Rema's statements that discuss how the constellation Leo (the lion of the month of Av) was displayed in the Beis HaMikdash and how it was replaced with Canis Major (Orion's hunting dog in the sky). It seems that Av can be either displayed as Leo, the Lion of royalty, or as the dog of the fool, Orion. See here.

Perhaps, the Kinah is teaching us that we must choose whether we want to act like royalty or like a fool. Interestingly, in the Kinah that precedes this one a mention of how the dogs dragged away the youth compared to lions can be found.

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