How do you explain the meaning of the Gimmel Tammuz events to your kids and students? If you are looking for a clue to help you approach the topic, you may want try this educational program (in Hebrew).
“The Gimmel Tammuz. Who will stop the sun?”: selected episodes
The Rebbe Rayatz and the story of his victory
The battle of Yehoshua: an exceptionally long day
The battle of Yehoshua: the sunstroke
Yaakov Avinu: eternal life
The Kiddush with Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi
“Nasi”: Portrait of a leader – through generations
We, the 7th Generation
“The Gimmel Tammuz. Who will stop the sun?” – the full program (68 min):
The structure of this film is somewhat unusual. It’s not a narrative, nor is it a review of the famous Rebbe’s talk, given on the 3d of Tammuz. Rather it’s a puzzle of episodes – seemingly different, but at the same time, sharing an inner connection to the events which happened on this day in the Jewish history.
One of the first episodes takes us back to the time of Yehoshua bin Nun, some 3300 years ago. On the 3d of Tammuz, 2488 Yehoshua Joshua was leading the Jewish people in their battle against five Canaanite kings. Fearing that the campaign might extend into the night, Yehoshua prayed that HaShem help the Jews by not letting the sun set until the conclusion of the battle:
“Then Joshua spoke to HaShem on the day when HaShem delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still upon Gibeon, and Moon in the valley of Ajalon!” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies…” (Yehoshua 10:12-13).
The sun and other celestial bodies stayed where they were for twenty-four hours, until Bnei Israel won a complete victory. A fascinating story and a great opportunity to refresh your knowledge of the book of Yehoshua!
In the next episode we learn that Gimmel Tammuz is a prominent date in modern history as well. It’s on this day that the Rebbe Rayatz was released from the infamous Spalerno prison in the Soviet Union (5687). After having spent in confinement a few brutal weeks, the Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak was exiled to Kostroma on the 3d of Tammuz. In less then two weeks from that day he was fully – and miraculously – liberated. The Gimmel Tammuz made history as the “Beginning of Geulah (Redemption)”.
The events that follow allow us to elaborate on the unique unifying role of the “leader of the generation” – from the times of Moshe Rabbeinu to the present day. It’s also a good chance to think about the role of a miracle in history. Indeed, should a person rely on miracles to change the world? Or should he try to act on his own? As it happens, the truth lies somewhere in the middle…
In the meantime, the unexpected time journey brings us as far back as the times of Yakov Avinu and Yehuda haNasi! In these episodes we can see that in fact, history is not just about the past; it is more about our present and future. Now that the idea of eternal life seems to be so scientifically realistic, it is especially interesting to see that this idea was absolutely natural even in the time of the Talmud and even before.
The fascinating stories from the Torah and the Talmud weaved in the plot, give a lot of food for thought. It’s a good opportunity to explore and discuss really complex and important issues – something we might not have enough time for on a regular day.
There are many levels from which we can view and understand the events of the Gimmel Tammuz. So learning about this day may take more than an hour. If you are ready to commit to the whole video, it could be a good idea to make time for a series of classes during the whole month of Tammuz – known as “the month of Geulah”.
It would be a spoiler to explain how all the story lines will eventually join together (although many ideas can be found in the Rebbe’s famous talk on the 3d of Tamuz, 5751). But even trying to piece the puzzle together, could help us see the events of the Gimmel Tammuz in an entirely new light.