Shevat and Tu B’Shevat Seders

 

Inspirations for understanding the month of Shevat:

Seders, Seders, and more Seders!

 

Do you have a Tu B’Shevat Seder you’d like included on this list?  Let me know!

 

Kislev, Re-dedication, and Tzitzit

As Kislev approaches my mind once again turns to the corners of my Tallitot — which are vacant of Tzitzit.  I have had an amazing emotional block around tying Tzitzit to my daily tallit and my ceremonial one.  Tzitzit are hugely important to me.  As a spiritual practice they not only make sense to me at a primal level, but also as a “magickal” tool via the tying of knots — and it’s a direct mitzvah from the Torah.

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Tekufat Tevet – The Winter Solstice

Tekufah Tevet from the Beit Alpha Synagogue Mosaic
Tekufah Tevet from the Beit Alpha Synagogue Mosaic

Most people when discussing the tekufot align them with directly with the astronomical solstices or equinoxes, but according to the Jewish Encyclopedia they may actually fall up to 14 days after this.  For example, think about the fact that the Winter solstice is called the “Tekufat Tevet.”  This year (5771 / 2010) the Winter Solstice actually falls in the month of Tevet, but this is not always the case.

Many years, the Winter Solstice actually appears in the month of Kislev, and aligns with closely with Hanukkah, which occurs during the dark moon nearest the winter solstice.  If you look at the Gregorian calendar for 2000-2009, only five of those ten years had the Winter solstice falling in Tevet.  Want to see for yourself?  2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) So on the years when the Winter Solstice falls in Kislev, when do you you celebrate Tekufat Tevet?  I say we celebrate the solstice on the solstice.  It’s an astrological event, not a subjective one.

“The winter solstice seems to have to do with sight, or the lack thereof. Mountains become visible to Noah, and the patterns of nature become visible to Adam and Eve. Leviathan is associated with inner site. Jepthah, on the other hand, is blind to his own wrong doings.  On the winter solstice the sun’s light begins to become stronger, and we too consider how to strengthen our vision.”  (From the Jewish Book of Days by RK’Jill Hammer)

There are actually many Jewish winter solstice tales and a great deal of lore around the Winter and other tekufot.  For a variety of reasons, we’re not supposed to drink water stored in the house or in “vessels” on the first day of the tekufot. The belief is that the water is poisoned with blood.  Each season seems to have its own reason for this.  At the Winter Solstice it’s because that is the day Jepthah sacrificed his daughter.

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Hanukkah: Re-dedicating the Temple

I originally published this in 2006, but felt like it was worth surfacing again.  The theme of sacrifice and offerings is an ever present one for me, and has recently returned as a focus, particularly in my artwork.   As I got ready for my day today, I heard those who lead my country, and many others in the world talking about the need to make sacrifices — but none of them really willing to do so.    Across the globe we face economic, health, and humanitarian crises.  The day a politicians stop worrying about being re-elected or maintaining their party’s power, and just does the right thing – may be the day we usher in the era of Moshiach.

——

RE-DEDICATION

Once we had The Temple where we made sacrifices of precious blood and grain.
Now we we have temples where people pray, but few truly give offerings.

The darkness. The darkness. The darkness.

~Doesn’t the light always return?~

The light, it does return?

~It does return.~

Hanukkah?

~חנוכה~

The lights.   We light them.   The light returns.

We light the lights to remember. We light the lights to re-dedicate the temple or The Temple?

~Where is The Temple?~

Isn’t She everywhere? Is She the שכינה, the Presence? Isn’t the Presence everywhere and in everything.

~Yes~

Then I re-dedicate The Temple here.

~נס גדול היה שם~

Yes, but I am here –פה

I r e a c h to others who feel as I do.   And one becomes many.   I becomes we.   We together, reclaim our inheritance.

We re-dedicate the Earth, אדמה, as Temple.
We pour offerings of sweat, not blood.
We pour offerings of grain and oil.
We pour offerings of praise and care.
We care for our Temple,
Our Holy of Holies,
Through every action we take.
We light the lights…

~And it begins again~

[originally published December 14, 2006]