Today (Wednesday), the Jewish world is celebrating “Rosh Chodesh SHEVAT”, meaning the beginning of the new Jewish month of SHEVAT.
The month of Shevat already hints to the upcoming spring and today, it couldn’t be more obvious: Sunshine and 20 degrees Celsius in Jerusalem. Let us enjoy the day because the warm weather won’t last for too long. It is still winter.
To me, Shevat stands for a month making me older on an annual basis, as I celebrate my birthday in this month. As a matter of fact, I am getting to an age where a birthday may be not always be seen as such a happy event. 🙂
Judaism doesn’t necessarily define the role of our birthday. I think the only time a birthday is mentioned in the Torah is the birthday of Pharaoh. Nevertheless, I learnt that one should be happy on his birthday and pray to G – d, as we have a special power on this particular day.
Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of a new Jewish month) is the first Mitzvah (commandment) the Jewish people received as a nation. A new Jewish month always stands for a new beginning in life. Not that we always have to wait until a new month shows up but changes can be made on a daily basis. However, a new month seems to give us new strength and adds motivation.
Shevat is the eleventh month of the Jewish calendar and has 30 days. On the first of Shevat, Moshe began reading the Book of Deuteronomy (Sefer Devarim) to the Jews. His inheritance before he passed away in the month of Adar (following Shevat).
According to the kabbalistic book “Sefer Yetzirah – The Book of Creation”, every Jewish month symbolizes a Hebrew letter, a colour, a Jewish tribe, a human organ and a horoscope:
The colour of Shevat is blue – green, the letter is Zaddik (צ), the tribe is Asher, the organ is the stomach and the horoscope is Aquarius – Dli (Bucket) in Hebrew. Moreover, Shevat symbolizes the two human senses “eating” and “taste”. It says that a Zaddik (righteous person) eats in order to satisfy his soul. He only eats as much as he needs to live.
The Aquarius symbolizes water which is a metaphor for Torah. Jews cannot exist without Torah and water. Aquarius is an “air sign” and those of you who were also born in this month stand for rebellion, changes and spontaneous decisions. People born in Shevat are always searching for their own identity, are open to new ideas and usually don’t fit in anywhere. At least not too easily. Furthermore, they hate monotony and are extremely communicative.
Many famous Rabbis died in Shevat and we are going to commemorate plenty of Yahrzeits:
4 Shevat: Rabbi Israel Abuchatzeira, the Baba Sali, 1890 – 1984
5 Shevat: Rabbi Aryeh Yehudah Leib of Ger, 1847 – 1905, the Sefat Emet and the founder of Chassidut Gur (Ger)
10 Shevat: Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe
14 Shevat: Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, 1935 – 1983
22 Shevat: Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, 1787 – 1859
25 Shevat: Rabbi Israel Salanter
29: Rabbi Nosson Zvi Finkel, the Alter of Slobodka, 1849 – 1927
Halacha: We add the prayer Ya’ale ve Yavo – Gebetes in the Amidah and the Birkat HaMazon. It is customary that women refrain from housework.
Chodesh Tov – A great, healthy and successful new month to all of you !