Shevat is the 11th month on the Jewish calendar counting from Nissan. The zodiac sign is Aquarius and its symbol the “waterbearer” makes us reflect on the Biblical verse, “Water will flow from his wells” because it alludes figuratively speaking as the ability in each one of us ‘to pour’ knowledge and inspire/lead others, just as a Tzadik would in order to bring them closer to G/d. Shevat is a special acrostic for “we should hear good news’ it’s a month of good news, Shenishma Besurot Tovot, that we should be blessed to share good tidings.
The notorious celebration during this month is the holiday of Tu B’Shvat on the 15 Shevat (January 25) which is the “New Year for Trees.” In Israel, it is the start of a new growing season and the day that is marked by eating fruits, particularly those from the “Seven Kinds” with which Israel is blessed with wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. We reflect on the metaphor “Man is a tree of the field.” Just as the Torah is considered a Tree of Life we notice that both, Torah and Mankind, possess the same components; roots, trunk, branches and fruit.
There are two tribes on this month. The tribe of Asher and his name means pleasure and happiness. The special tree that Asher personifies is the olive tree, which gives the goodly oil with which Asher’s portion in the land of Israel was blessed with. The Tribe of Joseph is connected to Asher’s because it was Asher’s daughter who gave the news to Jacob that Joseph was alive.
The letter: Tzade צ (resembles a tree). Interestingly, the letter of the previous month, Tevet, is ayin (ע), which means “an eye” and when the ayin of Tevet is lifted up to connect with the tzadik of Shevat, the word “tree” (עֵץ) is formed.
The limb is the stomach and the attribute is Taste, which figuratively through the stomach we digest and derive pleasure by internalizing the words of Torah.
The permutation of the month is: Hey, Yud, Vav Hei, found in the pasuk; Vaykra 27 verse 33
לֹ֧א יְבַקֵּ֛ר בֵּֽין־ט֥וֹב לָרַ֖ע וְלֹ֣א יְמִירֶ֑נּוּ וְאִם־הָמֵ֣ר יְמִירֶ֔נּוּ וְהָֽיָה־ה֧וּא וּתְמוּרָת֛וֹ יִֽהְיֶה־קֹּ֖דֶשׁ לֹ֥א יִגָּאֵֽל׃
“If you offer a substitute” In the end, both are holy. Meaning that it is our duty to always improve in what we offer.
The Midrash explains that Moses spent the last month of his life, the month of Shevat translating the entire Torah into the 70 major languages then spoken. This is a fundamental lesson as every Jew has a connection to the Torah, even one who cannot read it in its original tongue.
Under the current circumstances, we hang on to the ‘good news month’ and hope that the future will be filled with joy, blessings of abundance in our lives, of new life, goodness and kindness improving in each and every one of us. Ken Yehi Ratzon.
by Teresa Quiroz, on behalf of Women of Holy Blossom
Shacharit Service: Thursday, January 11, 2024, 7:30 am ET, in-person or via Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/93902401402?pwd=dGlOR2dEcGs1RVc0OVFwdkFtOVo5UT09
For other upcoming dates and why Rosh Chodesh is special for women see https://holyblossom.org/rosh-chodesh/