Shevat | שְׁבָט

Moon of Centering (January/February)
Shevat is our cosmic opportunity to center ourselves and determine our priorities for the busy growing seasons of late spring, summer, and fall.

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Basics

  • Linear Month: 5
  • Torah Month: 11
  • Season: Winter
  • Holidays: Tu B’Shevat
  • Offerings1: Pine Cones, Tree Branches, Tree Bark, Tree Syrup and Sap, Water
  • Symbol1: Cups
  • Element2Eish (אֵשׁ) Fire within Mayim (מַיִם) Water transitions to Aphar (עָפָר) Earth within Ruach (רוּחַ) Air
  • Spiritual Focus3: Personal connection to Divine through creative expression
    transitions to Resources through Community
  • Netivah: Ohevet (אוהבת) Lover
  • Constellation: D’li (דלי) Aquarius
  • Letter: Tzadi – צ
  • Tribe: Asher – אָשֵׁר
  • Sense: Taste – טָעֹם
  • Tarot Card4: Star
  • Soul Trait5: Ahavah (אהבה) Love

Note: Letter, Tribe, and Sense are derived from the Sefer Yetzirah as translated by Aryeh Kaplan
See NOTES for additional information on sources of these all correspondences.


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Shevat is a month where, in a non-leap year, we should begin to see the signs of spring emerging by the end of it – or at least know it is coming so very soon – and this makes most people very happy.   We celebrate the return of spring through the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, which is one of the four traditional Jewish new years. Asher seems to be associated with delicious food, too, “As for Asher, his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.”(Gen 49:20)  What a perfect correspondence to the sense of the month, Taste, and the Kabbalistic tradition of a Tu B’Shevat seder that has become so popular in recent years.  Food is one of our simplest pleasures in life!

A month of simple happiness – is that possible?  So many months of the year offer us challenges that seem insurmountable.  What kind of a challenge is happiness? 

Key Dates in Shevat

1stRosh Chodesh Shevat

New Moon

Moses repeats the Torah to the Tribe, according to rabbinic tradition.  (Chabad.org) This is the book of Deuteronomy.

New year of Trees by school of Shammai.
10thShabbat Shira – The Shabbat of the Song of the Sea
15thTu B’Shevat – the New Year of the Trees
Gate between Fire within Water & Earth within Air

Full Moon
17thPurim Saragossa (1421 CE) Celebration of a miracle of medieval Spanish Jewry.
23rdAccording to the Book of Judges (19-21), this day begins the war waged against the tribe of Benjamin which almost wiped out this tribe.
24thThe day Zechariah received his prophecy related in the book of Zechariah.
(Zechariah 1:7-16)
Find Gregorian Calendar Dates: https://www.hebcal.com/hebcal/

Shabbat Torah/Haftarah Readings

YearPortions
5781Parashat Vaera
Parashat Bo
Parashat Beshalach
Parashat Yitro
5782Parashat Bo
Parashat Beshalach
Parashat Yitro
Parashat Mishpatim
5783Parashat Bo
Parashat Beshalach
Parashat Yitro
Parashat Mishpatim
5784Parashat Vaera
Parashat Bo
Parashat Beshalach
Parashat Yitro
5785Parashat Bo
Parashat Beshalach
Parashat Yitro
Parashat Mishpatim
For more see: https://www.hebcal.com/sedrot/
Note some months the parshiot fluctuate and in others it is always consistent.

Netivah Readings

These readings were selected by Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet to pair with the weekly Torah portions.

  • In Genesis, Chapter 24 we meet Rebeka as the water carrier (Gen 24:16-22), which shows her direct connection to the month of Shevat.  Her story begins as soon as Sarah’s ends and the two women never meet.  Rebekah’s story is also on of the Lover.  Rebekah must willingly give herself to Issac as a Lover (Gen 24:5-8, 24:39-41, 24:58).   The last words of Chapter 24 speak of her role as Lover and also as the continuation of Sarah’s role as mother to the tribe (Gen 24:67).
  • Song of Songs
    What better reading can there be to honor the Ohevet than Song of Songs.  No matter if you see it as an allegory of the love between G!d(dess) and the Jewish people or just a mythic love story, this beautiful poem is the great love song of the Hebrew scripture.   (p.s. you’re not crazy, I accidentally included this in Shevat last month)
  • Ruth 1:1-4:22
    There are two stories of deep love between people in the Book of Ruth.  There is the story of Ruth and Naomi, which can be seen as the platonic love between a mother and daughter or a romantic love between two women, and there is also the story of Ruth and Boaz. Explore this story of the bonds of love that can change the course of individual lives and entire nations.
  • I Samuel 1:1-1:5 The story of David and Jonathon is a much debated one, but no matter what your interpretation there was a deep love between these two men. This passage is just one of many in the book of Samuel that mentions the relationship between these two men.


Notes

1: Offerings & symbols were developed by Kohenet Ketzirah haMa’agelet for use as physical offering practices or in artwork.

2: Elements follow R’Jill Hammer’s elemental system as explained on her website www.telshemesh.org and her book The Jewish Book of Days. See pages 16-19 for explanation of elemental system.

The interpretations of the Sephirot are also from Rabbi Jill’s teachings.  Specifically, they are from her Omer Calendar of Bibilical Women.

3: The spiritual focus is my own concept of sustainable spiritual practice.  It is based on my interpretation of the wheel of the year and the Jewish holidays, as taught by many.  The specific focus is for a season, as based on the element have/need system taught by R’Jill Hammer in the The Jewish Book of Days, as referenced above.  For example Autumn is the time of Air within Earth, we have Earth we need Air and is the spiritual focus of Community (Air) within Resources (Earth) or more simply: communal resources.  

4: While tarot is not intrinsically Jewish, it is a derivative of Kabbalah and a can be a useful tool for self discovery and exploration. Tarot correspondences here follow Kabbalistic tree of life by Issac ben Luria, the Ari, as opposed to some of the more common Christian systems.

5: The soul-traits for each month are based on Kesharim K’doshim Mussar, developed by Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet.

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