Seasons of the Moon

Seasons of the Moon - Shevat 5756

The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Seasons of the Moon


The Month of Shevat
Shevat 5756 / 22nd January - 20th February 1996

THIS MONTH'S SIGN

D'LEE /AQUARIUS

The sign of the Jewish People is the D'lee which means 'bucket'. What is the connection between the Jewish People and a bucket? Just as the only purpose of a bucket is to be a vessel to carry water, so too the only purpose of the Jewish People is to be the 'Water Carrier' - the vessel of the living waters of the Torah. Just as a person cannot live without water, so the Jewish People cannot survive without the Torah. When we look at our history, it is clear that what has kept us a nation during 2,000 years of diaspora has been our devotion to the Torah and our precise observance of it. Also, just as water always finds the lowest level, so the Torah can only be absorbed by someone who is truly humble.


Question: When is Rosh Hashana in the middle of winter?

Answer: When it's the Rosh Hashana of the trees!

Tu B'Shevat, the 15th of Shevat, is the New Year for trees. On this day, it is customary to eat from the seven species, for which the land of Israel is praised: "...a land of wheat and barley and (grape) vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and (date) honey.' (Deuteronomy 8)

Tu B'Shevat is the day when new sap starts to rise in the tree, when new life is starting to emerge. Even though we are still in the middle of winter and all looks bleak, cold and lifeless, Tu B'Shevat comes - a day of new life with the promise of re-juvenation.

That's why Tu B'Shevat can be compared to the coming of the Mashiach and the final redemption of mankind. Even though everything looks bleak, and there seems to be no sign of life. We are threatened by increasing assimilation and the loss of Jewish identity, Jewish life seems frozen and moribund. But even at that very moment, the sap is rising. On the surface, you can see no change whatsoever, but precisely at that moment, life secretly and inexorably starts to burgeon anew.


I'D LIKE TO TEACH THE WORLD TO HEAR

How's your hearing? Good? I wish mine was. Don't get me wrong. I can hear my baby when he wakes up at night. I can hear my wife calling me for dinner. My hearing is at least average. It's not that kind of hearing I'm talking about.

In the normal course of events, it's very difficult to see that the world is being run by Somebody. I often wonder how things could be part of a Divine, coherent plan. You see suffering and evil, and you wonder how can this be the handiwork of a Merciful G-d. Rarely - very rarely - you have a flash of insight - and the whole picture lights up in a brilliant flash. For an instant, you see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit into place you hear every note, and each instrument and player harmonizing in Hashem's symphony of Creation. This realization is what the Torah calls a song - when all the apparently unrelated phenomena meld into a coherent, merciful, comprehensible whole singing in unity.

After the Exodus, the Jewish People stood on the shore of the sea. Before them lay the mighty Egyptian army, strewn across the beach like a set of broken toy soldiers. Every last man and woman, from the greatest to the most humble, reached a level of insight into the workings of the world that has never been repeated. Then, Moses and the people sang a song - a song of recognition and praise to Hashem.

That song is part of the prayers we say every single day of the year, to remind ourselves that even when it seems that chaos is conducting the orchestra, and life sounds like the First National Cacophony, it is Hashem Who wields the baton of world events as no maestro can, and if we only open up our ears, we will hear how everything in creation is singing together in one sublime concerto.

Shabbat Shira - the Shabbat of Song -
when we read the song that the Jewish People sang after crossing the Red Sea falls this year on 13th Shevat / 3rd February.


ABOVE THE STARS

If Aquarius is the sign of the Jewish People, how come the Talmud tells us that 'Israel has no sign' ? Everything that happens in the physical world is initiated in the highest realms and then given over by the Creator to the stars to transmit to this world. Every person and every nation comes under the sway of this influence. However, at any time and in any way, G-d can choose to overide this system.

When we align ourselves with the Will of the Creator by keeping His Torah, we elevate ourselves above the natural chain of command that the stars transmit. We are on a direct line to "The Boss". But when we ignore Hashem and His Torah, then He, as it were, doesn't pick up His direct line, and we have to go through the switchboard like everybody else!


The Age of Aquarius

When the moon
is in the seventh house
and their swords
are beaten into ploughs,

When they hang
on your every thread
of wisdom, saying
"Now peace will guide the planet
and love will steer the stars."

If only (above the mountains)
you will lift your eyes
and see
this is the dawning of
the Age of Aquarius,
the Age of Mashiach.


SOURCES :

  • THIS MONTH'S SIGN - Bnei Yissaschar, Ruach Hachaim;
  • ABOVE THE STARS - Derech Hashem II,7, Tractate Shabbat 158a, Tos. ad loc.

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SEASONS OF THE MOON is written by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair and edited by Rabbi Moshe Newman.
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