Jewish Astrology: The Zodiac
Month Zodiac Mazal Definition
Nissan --------- Aries------------Taleh-------------Lamb
Iyar-------------Taurus-------- --Shor------------- Ox
Tamuz-----------Cancer--------- Sartan----------- Crab
Is Astrology Kosher?
by Levi Brackman
Predicting the future is big business. From newspaper astrologers to corporate consultants, there are many people out there ready to profit from our insatiable desire to know the unknown. Often, when contemplating major changes in my life, I am tempted to check my astrological reading. Is there anything wrong with this? Can an intelligent person believe in astrology without feeling ridiculous?
It is fascinating to note that the rabbis of the Talmud gave considerable credence to astrology. The Talmud states that, "upon entry into the month of Adar one should become increasingly joyous. Rav Papa said: 'Therefore a Jew should avoid litigation with Gentiles in the month of Av, because his mazal is bad; and he should move the court case to the month of Adar, when his mazal is good.'" (1) The Hebrew word which Talmud uses here, mazal, is usually translated "luck" but literarily means "constellations."
Astrology is not only a factor to be taken into account when planning future events--it also influences human nature. According to the Talmud, one born under the constellation of the sun will achieve eminence and one born under Venus will become wealthy and immoral. One born under Mercury will be wise and have a retentive memory. One born under the Moon will suffer evil. One born under Saturn will suffer frustration, one born under Jupiter will be righteous and one born under Mars will become either a surgeon or a slaughterer. (2) A birthday is therefore viewed by the rabbis as a day on which personal astrological fortune is at its most potent. (3)
There is an uncomfortable contradiction inherent in all this. Although astrology is prominent in rabbinic thought, Jewish law cautions against seeking the advice of astrologers. (4) But if astrology is a true science why not consult it? The following Midrashic parable sheds light on this.
A king conquered a new province, the elite of which decided that they needed to forge connections with the new rulers. Some decided to become acquainted with the dukes, others with the knights and yet others with the ministers. The wisest amongst them declared, "I will forge a connection with the king himself." He reasoned, "All the ministers, knights and dukes change, however the king will always remain king. (5)
So, too, continues the Midrash, some people attribute power to the constellations and wish to serve them. Monotheistic believers, however, realize that G-d is the supreme power and all other powers are no more than obedient servants who carry out His will.
Since everything in the universe is subject to the laws of cause and effect, according to nature the month of Adar is an astrologically lucky month and a birthday has unique astrological potential for the celebrant. However, reliance on astrology could lead one to conclude that nature has a life of its own and the celestial spheres have powers independent of G-d's will. In fact, these are no more than a manifestation of the divine will. This is why prayer is so important. Mundane life seeks to convince us that life is dictated by the laws of nature. Prayer reminds us that nature is controlled by G-d.
The message is clear: nature and its rules--including astrological truths--do exert an influence on our lives. It presents us with auspicious times and circumstances, and inauspicious ones; it imbues our character with certain traits and tendencies. However, one must recognize that ultimate power rests not with "nature" but with the Creator of heaven and earth.(6)
1)Talmud, Taanit 29a-b.
2) Ibid, Shabbat 156a. Although rabbinic consensus holds that Jews are not affected by mazal, the great medieval Talmudist Rabbi Yom Tov ibn Asevilli (circa 1300) suggests that in this context the word mazal is to be understood as a generic term for "decree" rather than constellations. He thus suggests that when the rabbis of the Talmud say that Jews are not effected by mazal they mean that they can subvert divine decrees through the performance of good deeds (Taanit 29a).
3) See Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh Hashnah 3:8, regarding the Amalek who, in the war against the Israelites, used soldiers who, on that day, were celebrating their birthday so that they would have an astrological advantage over the enemy.
4) Talmud, Pesachim 113b.
5) Midrash Rabbah, Eichah 3
6) It must be noted, however, that not all the rabbis believed in the truth of astrology. In fact Judaism's great codifier and philosopher, Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, 1138-1204), dismissed astrology as having no validity. See Maimonides' "Epistle to Yemen," Chapter 3, and his Commentary on the Mishna, Avodah Zarah 4:7.It should also be noted that none of this is intended as an endorsement of the modern-day "astrology" practiced by pop-astrologers and published in internet and newspaper "horoscopes," which probably bear little or no relation to the ancient science of astrology mentioned by in the Talmud.
The first mention of the name Nissan is in Megilas Esther when Haman draws lots to decide which day of the year he will kill the Jews. This event, says the Megila, took place in the month of Nissan. The Bnei Yisaschar says the name Nissan is for “Nissim” miracles. It is a month of open miracles where Hashem turned the natural world on its head to rescue His beloved nation. The Torah tells us this special time was planned from the creation of the world and will always be a time of miracles and redemption for Am Yisroel for all generations.
The word Nes is made of the letters “Nun” and “Samech”. The gemara tells us (Brachos 4b) that although in “Ashrei” each pasuk starts with the next consecutive letter of the Aleph Bais, the pasuk beginning with Nun is omitted. This is because a pasuk with “Nun” speaks of the downfall of Klal Yisroel. “Nafla Lo Sosif Kum Besulas Yisroel”. Even though Dovid left out the Nun he still supported it with Ruach HaKodesh, as the pasuk after the missing Nun that starts with the letter Samech says, “Someich Hashem L’Chol HaNoflim”; Hashem supports all those who have fallen.
This, says the Bnei Yisaschar, is the significance of the word and month “Nissan”. It is the month that Hashem lifts up his downtrodden nation, both in the time Galus Mitzrayim and also in the day of Moshiach Sheyavo Bimheira Biyameinu.
The Month of Iyar: Taurus
Iyar is the month between our yearly rebirth in Nissan and our new maturity—which we achieve by receiving the Torah—in Sivan. Accordingly, the letter of this month, vav ו, represents the straight line of truth. The sign of Taurus, the bull (in Hebrew: shor), signifies the individuality and stubborn devotion to this truth, the prerequisite for maturation. Iyar is thus the month of “correct thought,” the attribute on which we focus in preparation for receiving the Torah. The tribe of this month, Yissachar, excelled in their loving devotion to the study of the Torah.
The many facets of this maturity are expressed in various Biblical verses and Talmudic excerpts. The prophet Isaiah (1:2) makes reference to a level of understanding of the bull: "the bull knows its master..."
King Solomon, in Psalms, speaks of the bull as a burden-bearing beast (Proverbs 14:2): "Where there are no oxen, the trough is clean, but much increase is by the strength of the bull."
The Talmud views the bull from a different perspective, categorizing it as one of the four prototypes of damage and, as such, as a beast which inflicts harm through goring, kicking, or eating. Thus, maturation, cognizance, burden-bearing, and the ability to harm, combine to form a clear picture of the nature of the constellation Shor.
The concept of maturation, as manifested by Shor, is expressed in Midrash Tanchuma by the words "At first he is like a soft ram, and then he triumphs like a bull." The Hebrew word for maturation, hitbagrut, is not only phonetically similar to hitgabrut (triumphing, overcoming) but is also indicative of a very similar phenomenon, since maturation involves the overcoming of childhoood patterns.
During the month of Iyar, when Shor is ascendant, certain events took place which exhibit these traits. Some of these events occurred during the Exodus or immediately after it, others at later dates. All of these events are characterized by building and preparing for future situations.
According to our Sages, the five major events which took place in Iyar are:
*Israel was commanded to observe the Sabbath (before receiving the Torah);
*Manna, food from the Heavens, began to descend;
*The Amalekite War - the first war in the nation's history;
*The commencement of the construction of the First Temple (during King Solomon's time, 900 BCE);
*The death of R. Shimon bar Yochai - the revelation of the wisdom of the Kabbalah 180 CE.
The Revelation of the Kabbalah
The various attributes of the Shor are clearly reflected in the events of the month. It matures, assumes a burden, and prepares itself for future growth. One of the important dates this month is Lag B'Omer, which falls on the 18th of Iyar. This is a joyous day, on which the mourning practices which precede it are terminated (at least temporarily). It marks the end of a plague which had devastated Rabbi Akiva's students between Pesach and Lab B'Omer. This took place during the generation after the destrubtion of the Second Temple and the death of R. Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar.
The revelation of the Zohar was a cause for much rejoicing, because it penetrates the Torah's surface levels, unveiling in-depth, hidden meanings. Until its revelation, the Zohar was the possession of only a very few individuals. After its revelation, it became the heritage of a much wider audience.
The Kabbalah is not to be separated from the literal interpretation of the Torah. The literal interpretation entails analysis of Torah through conventional means. Thus, when the Torah mentions Egypt, it is referring to a particular country and kingdom known by that name. When it speaks about the war of Amalek, it is referring to the actual war which took place between that nation and the Children of Israel. A Biblical verse can never lose its literal sense, but Kabbalah reveals an additional face of the Torah.
Anyone can read the surface of the text. Then, probing furthur, one may notice certain concepts which repeat themselves, as elucidated in the classic commentaries. This constitutes the so-called pshat, or literal meaning, of the words of the Torah on a deeper level, demonstrating that the stories and laws of the text are a rendering of the root of Divine revelation in the world. Of course, this branch of wisdom has an independent lexicon on concepts which is revealed only to those who learn its wisdom, in a direct line of transmission from teacher to student.
Because of the splendour of the light which then came into the world, the custom arose on Lag B'Omer to kindle great lights and bonfires to symbolize that every passage in the Torah contains an additional light and that the Zohar is the light which illuminates the entire world.
Source: "Signs of the Times" - Gad Erlanger
Source: "Signs of the Times" - Gad Erlanger
The Month of Gemini: Sivan: Teomim
Teomim (twins) is the Hebrew name for Gemini. In the early morning hours of the 1st of Sivan, the sign of Gemini - which our Sages called mazal teomim - appears in the Eastern sky. The twins, as the name indicates, are two separate and similar bodies that come from one source. There is therefore great similarity between them, to the point where it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between them. The literature dealing with this sign alludes to this similarity, and also to a unity of wills, at times reaching levels not originally intended.
Each of the twins is attached to the other; together they form a single unit. The Torah makes clear that in the month of Teomim, a direct connection was made between the Jewish people and G-d. The Creator and the people of Israel are the twins of this sign, without intermediaries.
The most striking event of this month was the giving of the Torah. This was a unique and public revelation that has never recurred in the history of mankind. This revelation took place on the morning of the 6th Sivan - a day which ever since has been celebrated as the festival of Shavuot - and which established for all time a permanent and direct connection between Israel and the Giver of the Torah.
The Vilna Gaon points out that the Jewish people's continued existence runs counter to astrological predictions. That Israel's destiny is uniquely independent of such consideration is proven by the birth of Isaac through a special feat of the Creator. Indeed, the greatest detractors of the Jewish people have recognized that Jews are "not of this world".
The sign of Sivan is Gemini. It's letter is Zayin, and according to the Ari, it's tribe is Zevulun. The attribute of the month is travel. Travel symbolizes the practical result of the sacred development of the power of speech which characterizes Nissan, and the attribute of thought that characterizes Iyar, as it is written "In your wanderings, travellings, this (Torah) shall be your subject of conversation". During these three months we attempt to perfect ourselves in the realms of thought, speech and action, which together constitute the whole expression of man and the complete fulfilment of the Torah and its commandments.
That travel symbolizes the realm of action is further indicated in the letter that formed this month, the Zayin, which has a numerical value of seven and symbolizes the material plane, which is built on the seven-fold principle, as seen in the seven days of the week, the seven colours of the spectrum, and the seven tones of the musical scale. The seventh of the Divine attributes, kingdom (malchus), symbolizes the realm of action.
The letter Zayin, as a word, denotes tools, as in implements of the material technologies of agriculture or war, for the word Zayin can mean weaponry, or may be seen as etymologically related to the word Mazon, foodstuff.
For the month of Sivan, this symbol denotes the giving of the Torah, the weapon against one's evil inclination, and the source of spiritual sustenance. On the material plane, we notice that Sivan is the month when (in Israel) the wheat is harvested.
Both travel (Sivan's attribute) and food (implied in the month's letter) are indicated in the function of the tribe of Zevulun (the tribe associated with this month), who would engage in commerce and foreign trade and would thereby fulfill its part in the spiritual partnership between them and the tribe of Yissachar. Yissachar studies and Zevulun provides that tribe with all its physical needs. Together they share in the maintenance of the Torah and in its rewards. This partnership is symbolized in the sign of the month, Gemini, twins.
The element of Sivan is air. Just as air is essential for life to continue, so too the teachings of the Torah are essential for the maintenance of the world.
The heavenly body that influences the month of Sivan is Mercury. This planet is associated with communication and intelligence. These qualities find concurrance in the events of Jewish history that happened during this month. During this month we received the Torah. This gave us the vehicle with which to unify our consciousness and the means of direct communication with the Divine, and thus is provides us with an enduring way of life.
The double form of the astrological sign (twins) is also encountered in the month of Adar, whose sign is Pisces (fish). They also both correspond to the "changing" sign of the astrological process. The twins of Gemini correspond to the "twin Torah" - the Oral and the Written Torah. The month of Sivan is the time of the acceptance of the Written Torah, whereas the month of Adar (which contains the holiday Purim) marks the time of our acceptance of the Oral torah.
The limb associated with Sivan is the left leg. In contrast with the right leg, which denotes grace, the left leg denotes power, calling attention to the All-powerful who gave us the Torah.
The Month of Tammuz: Cancer
The constellation visible in the skies from the beginning of the month of Tammuz is called Sartan (cancer) - the crab. The crab is a weak creature that lives in the water. But although it is weak, its pinch is sharp.
There are no festivals in the month of Tammuz but on the 17th of that month, five tragic events took place:
1. The sin of the Golden Calf [1312 BCE]
2. The cessation of the daily burnt offering (korban ha-tamid) prior to the destruction of the First Temple [420 BCE]
3. The breaching of the wall of Jerusalem prior to the destruction of the Second Temple [70 CE]
4. The placing of an idol in the First Temple
5. The burning of a Torah scroll by the Roman ruler Espestamus.
Because all these occurred on the same date, the 17th of Tammuz was declared by the prophets a public fast day on which eating is forbidden from dawn to nightfall, and on which many selichot (penitential prayers) are recited.
Source: [Gad Erlanger "Signs of the Times" - Feldheim Publ.]
Source: [Gad Erlanger "Signs of the Times" - Feldheim Publ.]
Joshua stops the sun
On the third of Tammuz of the year 2488 from creation (1273 BCE), Joshua was leading the Jewish people in one of the battles to conquer the Land of Israel. Victory was imminent, but darkness was about to fall. "Sun," proclaimed Joshua, "be still at Giv'on; moon, at the Ayalon valley" (Joshua 10:12). The heavenly bodies acquiesced, halting their progress through the sky until Israel's armies brought the battle to its successful conclusion. [3 Tamuz/Chabad]
The Month of Av: Leo
The Hebrew month of Av (or Menachem-Av, the consoler of Av) is the fifth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.
The name Av literally means "father." It derives from the root which means "to will" or "to desire." It is the month of the "low point" of the Jewish calendar (the 9th of Av, the day of the sin of the spies and the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem) as well as the month of the "high point" of the Jewish calender (the 15th of Av -- "there are no happier days for Israel than the 15th Av and Yom HaKippurim" (Mishnah Ta'anit 26:) -- the day of finding one's predestined soul-mate).
This accords with the teaching of our sages that "the Mashiach is born on the 9th of Av." Relative to all other souls of Israel, the soul of Mashiach, who comes to redeem Israel from her state of (spiritual as well as physical) exile, is like a groom to his bride. After his birth on the 9th of Av he reveals himself to his bride and betroths her on the 15th of Av.
Av is the month during which many calamities befell the Jewish people. Of all these misfortunes, the most prominent is the destruction of both the First and Second Temples on 9th Av. Each time, destruction was followed by exile - once to Babylonia (420CE) and once to Rome (70Ce). Rome is identified with Edom, an exile which continues to this day.
The sign of the month is linked to the events which take place in it. In the sky of Av, a cluster of stars takes the image of a lion. The lion has arisen and is at its power. There is no escape.
The Tzeidah La-Derech alludes to the power of this sign over man, animals, metals and whole geographical areas:
It is a sign of fire, masculine, a day sign which brings illness. It is the sign of gold, silver, precious stones, and diamonds, and of the blacksmith. Those born under this sign are dominant over others, overpowering, quick to anger, passionate, effusive, true to their word and adept at fashioning ornaments of gold, silver and precious stones.
These are the conclusions of astrology. They do not take account of life beyond the influence of the stars. Jewish history does bear out some of these tendencies in two contrasting directions. The 9th of Av was the day of the destruction of the Temples and is a fast day. In contrast, the 15th Av is a day of joy.
In this month, we cultivate “correct hearing,” alluded to in the name of the tribe of this month, Shimon, which comes from the word for “hearing.” During the nine days from 1st-9th Av, Jews do not eat meat or listen to music, as a sign of mourning for the loss of the Temple. On the ninth day of Av we mourn for the Holy Temple, destroyed by the lion-like nations of Babylon and Rome—hence the association with the sign of Leo.
The letter governing this month, tet (t), has the negative meaning of “quicksand,” but is also the first letter of the word “good” (tov), since we can reach the highest levels by transforming the lowest levels into good.
Above includes extracts from "Signs of the Times" by Gad Erlanger [Feldheim] and Rabbi Y. Ginsburgh Inner.org
The Month of Elul: Virgo
The King is in the Field
This is the month that "the King is in the field." All can approach Him, and He shines His countenance to all.
In gematria Elul = 13, alluding to the 13 principles of Divine mercy that are revealed in the month of Elul.
Elul is the sixth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar. It is called "the month of repentance," "the month of mercy," and "the month of forgiveness."
Correcting the attributes of the previous months leads us to the month of return, Elul, when we focus on “correct action.” We take stock and spiritually prepare for the High Holidays.
Mazal: betulah (Virgo--virgin). The desire to achieve a new innocence in our relationship with G-d is expressed by the sign of this month, Virgo, the virgin. The betulah symbolizes G-d's beloved bride, Israel, the bride of the Song of Songs who says to her groom "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me."
The word "betulah" appears for the first time in the Torah (and the only time in description of a specific women) in praise of our matriarch Rebecca, before her marriage to Isaac.
The letter governing this month, yud - י, means “hand,” reminding us that sincere regret for our misdeeds and resolutions for the future must be reflected in our actions.
The tribe of this month, Gad, were the arch-warriors who perfected the faculty of action by challenging the forces of evil and conquering the Land of Israel. The name Gad means as well "good fortune." It is truly the "good fortune" of Israel to be G-d's beloved bride, and this "good fortune" reveals itself through the means of our good deeds, especially those which are intended to rectify our blemishes and beautify ourselves, as a bride for her groom.
The "good fortune" of Gad relates, in Kabbalah, to the thirteen principles of mercy that are revealed in the month of Elul, in order to arouse the soul from its root (its "good fortune") to return to G-d.
The four letters of the name Elul are an acronym for the initial letters of the phrase in the Song of Songs (6:3): "Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li" "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me." "I am to my beloved" in repentance and consummate desire to return to my soul-root in G-d. "And my beloved is to me" with Divine expression of mercy of forgiveness.In Chassidus the verse "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me" refers, in particular, to the service of prayer of the month of Elul.
The Month of Tishrei: Libra
The Month of Tishrei According to The Book of Formation (Sefer Yetzirah)
Each month of the Jewish year has a corresponding color, a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, a zodiac sign, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, a sense, and a controlling organ/limb of the body.
Tishrei is the seventh of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar. It begins the "period" (tekufah) of the autumn (whose three months--Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev--correspond to the three tribes of the camp of Ephraim--Ephraim, Menashe, Benjamin--who were situated to the west).
In the Bible, Tishrei is called yerach ha'etanim, "the month of the strong" or "the month of the ancients." With respect to the reckoning of "years," Tishrei is the first month of the year (before the giving of the Torah to Israel, Tishrei was the universal first month of the year.
Tishrei permutes to reishit, "beginning," as is said [of Divine providence over the land of Israel and the entire world]: "always are the eyes of Havayah your God there, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year").
As the seventh month from Nissan (the month of Jewish redemption and independence), Tishrei is the "dearest" of months, as is said: "All sevens are dear." The word "seven" is cognate to "satiated," and so is the month of Tishrei referred to as "the most satiated of months," for more than any other month of the year it is "full" of mitzvot and holidays.
Tishrei begins the six months of the winter, which correspond to six levels of "reflected light" (in Divine service--"arousal from below"). This is alluded to in the name Tishrei which begins with the three letters tav shin reish, in the "reflected" order of the alef-beit (from end to beginning).
Letter: lamed - Lamed is the only letter of the alef-beit whose shape ascends above the upper boundary of the letters. This is understood to reflect the great existential longing and aspiration of the lamed to return to its ultimate and absolute source in the essence of God's Infinite Being. This is the experience of the true teshuvah ("return") of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. G-d's infinite light descends and becomes manifest in the two lameds of the lulav on the festival of Sukkot.
Mazal: moznayim (Libra - scales) The scale symbolizes the Divine judgment of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. All of the deeds of man are weighed in judgment.
Moznayim, from the word oznayim (ears), implies equilibrium and balance (the inner sense of the ears). In Kabbalah, equilibrium is the prerequisite state for marital union, "face to face." This is the spiritual state achieved on the month of Tishrei.
In the 360 degree cycle of the year, Tishrei "faces" Nissan. Tishrei receives and integrates into nature (and its fixed laws) the "redemption" of Israel (the "light" of Nissan). Due to this itself, G-d judges Israel on Tishrei with mercy.
Tribe: Efraim - Efraim is the son of Joseph, the archetypal soul of the power to procreate in marital union. The name Efraim derives from God's first commandment to Adam on the day of his creation--the first of Tishrei, Rosh HaShanah "be fruitful and multiply," the all-inclusive mitzvah to procreate.
The sense of touch is the only of the five common and general senses which is not centered in the "face" of man (but rather in the tips of his fingers). The procreative "touch" takes place in an existentially balanced state of "face to face" but "in the dark" (in modesty, tzniut), for its ultimate source is in the "unknowable head" of keter.
The Month of Cheshvan: Scorpio
Cheshvan (or Mar-Cheshvan) is the eighth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar
The Hebrew name for Scorpio is "Akrav" - Scorpion. Our sages teach us that the scorpion is the most deadly member of the general category of poisonous creatures whose archetypal figure is the primordial snake of Eden. The word akrav derives from the word akev, "heel," as is said: "and you [the snake] shall bite him [man] at the heel" (Genesis 3:15). Thus the akrav symbolizes the consummate "bite" of the snake at the heel of man. While in general, the poison of the snake is "hot," the poison of the scorpion is "cold."
Midrash Tanchuma explains the proximity of Cheshvan to the month which follows it, Kislev:
One who remains rebellious (i.e. who does not repent) experiences a descent to the lowest levels - like a scorpion crawling on the ground or thrown into the brambles. However, one who repents is shot forth like an arrow from the bow (the bow is the sign of Kislev).
The judgment which occurred in Tishrei can bring a person to a higher level if the opportunities for repentence are utilized. Or, a person can descend to a level which is lower than before the judgment took place. The task of this month is to determine honestly what one's personal experience has been and to determine how to improve upon it.
The Akrav is symbolic of descent into that state of nothingness and silence which is known as gehinnom. It is a state in which actions not done are measured against those that were done. Imprisoned by non-activity, the soul, always yearning to move ahead, is punished by being held back. This is known among the commentators as "going through fire", for its purpose is to cleanse the soul much as metal is purged of dross. After undergoing this process of purification, the soul is ready to enter into a state of Paradise to enjoy the pure fruits of its labour.
The month of Cheshvan is a time for orderly study at the onset of a new year. It is the time when lessons can be learned from the past and preparations can be made for the future.
Cheshvan is called "chodesh bul", from the word mabul, (the flood). The flood began on the 17th of Cheshvan, and ended the following year on the 27th of Cheshvan. The following day, the 28th of Cheshvan, Noah brought his sacrifice to G-d and G-d swore never again to bring a flood upon the earth to destroy all mankind, and then revealed the sign of His covenant with the world, the rainbow.
Cheshvan is the only month which has no holidays or special mitzvot. We are taught that it is "reserved" for the time of Mashiach, who will inaugurate the third Temple in Cheshvan.
Nun is considered to be the letter of Mashiach, as is said (with reference to Mashiach): "before the sun, is his name Ye-non [from nun]" (Psalms 72:17).
The sense of smell is the most spiritual of all senses. The Hebrew word for "smell," rei'ach, is cognate to that for "spirit" (ruach). Our sages teach us that smell is the one and only sense that "the soul enjoys and not the body."
Source: Gad Erlanger "Signs of the Times"
The Month of Kislev: Sagittarius
The Month of Dreams
Keshet (bow) is the Hebrew name for Saggitarius. At dawn during Kislev a constellation reminiscent of a bow appears on the horizon - the Keshet, identified by our Sages as the sign of this month.
The bow was used in the past to shoot missiles, such as arrows, at the enemy. In the Midrash, the bow symbolizes the projection upwards of the scorpion from the brambles into which it had been cast. Projection implies shooting upwards from below. In the words of R' Bachyei:
"After the soul has received its judgment in purgatory, it will be projected up from there much like an arrow from the bow. That is the reason for the proximity of Akrav (Scorpio) to Keshet, as alluded to by our Sages (who said "They descend to Gehinnom yelling and crying... and rise".
Source: Gad Erlanger "Signs of the Times"
The Month of Kislev according to The Book of Formation (Sefer Yetzirah) - Kislev is the ninth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.
Kislev is the month of Chanukah--the only holiday in the Jewish calender which spans, and hence connects, two months: Chanukah begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev and concludes in the month of Tevet (either on the 2nd or 3rd, depending on the number of days in Kislev).
The name Kislev derives from the Hebrew word for "security" and "trust." There are two states of trust, one active and one passive, both of which are manifest in the month of Kislev. The miracle of Chanukah reflects the active trust of the Maacabim to stand up and fight against the Hellenistic empire and its culture. Kislev's sense of sleep reflects the passive trust that G-d's providence always guards over Israel.
In the tradition of Chassidut, the 19th day of Kislev, the day of the release and redemption of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the author of the classic text of Chassidut, the Tanya (the disciple of the Magid of Mezerich, the successor of the Ba'al Shem Tov) from prison (where he was placed for the dissemination of the innermost mysteries of the Torah) is referred to as "the New Year of Chassidut" (implying that it is through the spiritual channel of this day that the inner wisdom of Chassidut and the power to integrate this wisdom into one's daily life is brought down into this world).
The foundation of the way of Chassidut is absolute trust and faith in G-d's omnipresence and the omnipotence of His Divine providence.
The word samech means "to support". The experience of feeling supported corresponds to the trust and confidence in Divine providence associated with the month of Kislev, as described above. So do we find expressed in Psalms: "G-d supports (somech) all the fallen and lifts up all the bent over;" "Even when he falls he will not be let to fall to the ground, for G-d supports (yismoch) his hand."
The shape of the samech is a circle, which represents the all-encompassing omnipresence of G-d and His providence. The "great circle" of G-d's Infinite light is explained in Kabbalah and Chassidut to reflect His "right arm" which embraces (and supports, from beneath) with great, infinite love all of reality, as is said: "And from beneath, the arms of the universe."
Mazal: keshet (Sagittarius--Bow)
The bow of Kislev is the bow of the Maacabim. It symbolizes their active trust in G-d to fight against the empire and culture that then ruled the earth. Though the Chashmonaim themselves were from the Priestly tribe of Israel, the "art" of the bow is ascribed in the Bible to the tribe of Benjamin in particular, the tribe of the month of Kislev.
The Kohanim (and Leviim) are not considered as one of the twelve tribes in the correspondence of the tribes to the months of the year (according to the Arizal). As an all-inclusive manifestation of the Jewish soul, the Kohanim contain and reflect the spiritual source of each of the twelve tribes of Israel. This is especially so with regard to the tribe of Benjamin, for in his portion was the holy Temple wherein the Kohanim served. Thus the relation of the Kohanim to Benjamin is similar to that of soul to body. The Kohanim fight the holy war embodied in the bow of Benjamin.
The bow of war of Kislev is actually projected (shot) from the bow (the rainbow; in Hebrew both "bow" and "rainbow" are identical--keshet) of peace (between G-d and Creation) of the end of the previous month of Cheshvan, as explained above. The two bows (semi-circles) unite together to form the complete circle of the samech of Kislev.
The sense of sleep is the tranquility and restfulness that comes with trust and security in G-d and His Divine providence. So do we find in the blessings at the end of Leviticus (26:5-6): "And you shall dwell securely in your land. And I shall give peace in the land, and you shall lie down without fear...."
As the word "sense" (chush) is cognate to "quick" (chish), the sense of sleep implies the ability to sleep well but quickly (as is told of great tzadikim who required very few hours of sleep per day).
The very talent of Benjamin to shoot straight at his target depends upon a most tranquil inner spirit. He shoots and hits almost asleep. G-d carries his arrow to its intended destination. A tranquil personality is one with little inner friction and tension. The sense of sleep entails the ability to release stress, confident in the support of G-d.
The sense of sleep entails as well the sense of dreaming. In accord with our faith in Divine providence, especially manifest in relation to the connection between the weekly Torah portions and the annual cycle of months and their events, all of the dreams of the Torah are contained within the portions that are read during the month of Kislev.
When one possesses complete trust in G-d one dreams good dreams of the future. Good dreams at night reflect good thoughts throughout the day, especially the optimistic attitude and consciousness taught by Chassidut (whose New Year is the 19th of Kislev): "Think good, it will be good."
by HaRav Yitzchak Ginsburgh http://inner.org
The Month of Tevet: Capricorn
The zodiacal sign of Teves is gedi, the goat (Capricorn)
Letter: Ayin - ע
The goat is given other names in the Torah, such as se'ire and eiz. Both of these names are highly significant for Teves, as it relates to Eisav and Rome.
Yaakov said to his mother Rivkah: "But my brother, Eisav, is a hairy man [ish se'ir] and I am smooth-skinned. Suppose my father feels me - I will appear to him as an imposter!" (Bereishis 27:11-12)
Se'ire means "hairy" and refers to goats, which are extremely hairy. But we are also being told here that the goat itself is a metaphor for Eisav. The goat is also a metaphor for Yavan (Greece) as it appeared in Daniel's vision: And the rough goat is the king of Yavan. (Daniel 8:21)
In which way does the goat represent Yavan and Rome? One aspect is in the name itself - eiz - which means azus. The goat is not known for its tractability. It possesses the brazenness that is the hallmark of Yavan and the legacy of Eisav and Rome.
The goat is the brazen one of the domesticated animals. (Beitzah 25b)
There is another aspect of the goat which relates to Yavan and Rome:
Why do goats go out [to pasture] first, and only afterward sheep?... It is like the creation of the world: first was darkness, and then came light. (Shabbos 77b)
Rashi explains that goats are usually black (and sheep, of course, are white). Thus the goats, which push ahead to be first, symbolize the primal darkness, and the sheep which follow are the light which follows the darkness.
The goat, which represents Yavan, also echoes the darkness, the concealment, which is so fundamental to Yavan's outlook. It is this reign of darkness that always comes first. At the time of creation of the world, there was first darkness over the face of the deep, and only then did Hashem create light.
The irate anger of the goat is termed rogez, and the Sefer Yetzirah states that rogez is the dominant emotion of this month. Rogez refers to a trembling feeling. We find that one can tremble in rage or tremble in fear.
Rogez is a term frequently used to describe violent weather conditions.
Teves is the beginning of all destruction. This means that Edom (Rome; Western civilization) has its power rooted in this month. Furthermore, we see that many of our problems with Yavan took place in this month (such as the translation of the Torah). Greece is considered the origin of the Roman empire, for with Alexander's expanding Greek empire came the eventual spread and triumph of Rome. The month of Teves is therefore associated with Eisav, otherwise known as Edom.
The month of Teves is extremely harsh for the Jewish people. The fast day that was instituted on the tenth of the month commemorates the tragic events that took place on that day and the preceding two days:
* On the 8th of the month, Ptolemy, ruler of Greece, forced the Sages to translate the Torah into Greek (the Septuagint). This was part of the threat to Jewish identity that Yavan (Greece) represented. We are told that when this took place, three days of darkness descended on the world.
* On the 9th of the month, Ezra and Nechemiah died. Also on this day the leader of Christianity was born (Megillas Ta'anis, Tosafos Chadashim, citing Kol Bo)
* On the 10th of the month, Yerushalayim was attacked by Nebuchadnetzar, king of Bavel. He laid a siege on the city, which resulted in the walls being breached on 17th Tamuz, three years later.
Although the actual destruction of the Beis HaMikdash took place on 9th Av, the 10th of Teves is of significance in its being the time when the process of destruction began.
Our sages teach us that at the age of ten (an allusion to the tenth month, the level of ten in general) a child "jumps like a goat." (Midrash Kohelet) The playful nature of jumping up and down "like a goat" reflects an important stage in the growing-up process. The month of Tevet, the month of the tribe of Dan, relates to the growing-up process, from a state of immaturity to a state of maturity.
Immaturity is characterized by the "evil eye," while maturity is characterized by the "good eye." Gedi = 17 = tov, "good" (the "good eye"). One must play (and jump up and down like a goat) in order to rectify and sweeten the anger latent in ones animal soul.
The tribe of Dan represents the initial state of immaturity in the soul that "grows-up" during the month of Tevet. Dan means "to judge." Initially, he judges reality and others critically, with severe judgment (the "evil eye"). This is the nature of one who is spiritually immature. Dan is likened to a snake, who bites with the venom of anger. The "evil eye" is the eye of the snake.
The rectification of Dan is his engaging in the battle of holy anger against evil anger. Our sages teach us that only one from the soul-root of Dan can spontaneously jump up and kill the evil snake--"one like him, killed him."
Nachash ("snake") = 358 = Mashiach. The holy power of Dan reflects a spark of Mashiach. In the Zohar we are taught that the commander-in-chief of the army of Mashiach will come from the tribe of Dan.
The Month of Shvat: Aquarius
D'li (pail) is the Hebrew name for Aquarius. The constellation of D'li appears on the eastern horizon every day during the month of Shevat. This constellation resembles a full bucket from which water is poured. The act of watering represents action which affects others.
The symbolism of the water bucket is very important. A bucket has but one function, design, and purpose: to draw and carry water. That is, to be a vessel of transmission. Its whole essence is one of serving. It is not an end unto itself. It is meant to be a vehicle for something else.
Water, in many places throughout Jewish thought, is a metaphor for the wisdom of Torah. There are a number of qualities that water has, which are conceptually parallel to Torah.
One of the qualities of water is that it always flows to the lowest spot. The out-pouring of wisdom (Torah) that comes from God rests on the most humble personality. The more selfless a person is, the more wisdom flows toward him. If a person devotes himself to ideals, to living truth, to helping others... then he becomes a vessel fitting to receive the Torah's wisdom.
This sign, known as Aquarius, is the sign of the Jewish people. Just as a person is designated by a sign of the zodiac, so too nations also have a sign designated to them.
The natural element associated with Shvat is wind. Out of the four elements (wind, earth, water, and fire), wind is the least tangible. It often acts as a conduit for other things. It transports moisture, and brings seedlings and other particles of nature from one location to another. Earth, fire and water are more important for what they are, than for what they do.
The tribe of Asher is kabbalistically associated with Shvat. The name "Asher" means "pleasure" and "happiness." Our father Jacob blessed his son Asher: "from Asher comes delicious [lit. fat] bread, and he shall provide the delicacies of the king." From this it is evident that Asher represents the sense of taste and eating.
The special tree which Asher personifies is the olive tree, which gives the goodly oil with which Asher's portion in the land of Israel was blessed.
"Asher" in Hebrew grammar connects the subject of a sentence to a verb. It supports the subject. This is another example of Shvat's relationship to being subordinate to a master.
Colour: Blue / Green
Letter: Tzadi צ
The letter kabbalistically associated with Shvat is the tzadi, otherwise known as the tzaddik. That word in Hebrew also means "righteous one". One of the qualities of the tzaddik is that he uses all of his activities for a higher purpose. When he eats, it is not just to enjoy the food. He eats in order to better serve his creator. The Talmud says, A righteous person eats to satisfy his soul.
The very form of the letter tzadik (especially its final form, which represents the true manifestation of the tzadik in the future) resembles a tree. In the Torah, man is called Etz hasadeh ("the tree of the field"). Etz hasadeh = 474 = da'at, the unique property of man in general and of the tzadik in particular. Da'at is the power of "connection." The month of Shevat is the month of connection to the true tzadik of the generation, the Tree of Life of the generation.
The Ba'al Shem Tov said that when one meets a water-carrier carrying pitchers full of water, it is a sign of blessing. The tzadik is a true manifestation of a water carrier.
The Month of Adar: Pisces
Adar is the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar. The word Adar is related to the Hebrew word adir, meaning "strength." Adar is the month of good fortune for the Jewish people. Our sages say of Adar: "Its mazal [fortune] is strong."
Dagim (fish) is the Hebrew name for Pisces. "Fish swallow their prey, but they too can be swallowed" (Esther Rabbah 7:11) Just as fish live under the sea, concealed from the eyes of man, so, to, Adar is a month of concealment: cold, windy, and dark. Yet, like fish who are hidden from the human eye, but are able to proliferate in an entire self-contained universe under the sea, Adar, too, conceals within itself the potential for spiritual proliferation within the self-contained universe of each individual human being. The Torah makes clear that character traits are under the control and direction of each individual. Characteristics which seem to be problematic can over time be shaped into positive attributes. Adar demonstrates most convincingly that the power of a turnaround is not only for individuals to experience, but also that society as a whole can go from anguish to joy, and from mourning to festivity - as in the case of the evil Haman and the subsequent festival of Purim.
Purim, the holiday of Adar, commemorates the "metamorphosis" of the Jews' apparent bad fortune (as it appeared to Haman) to good.
Letter: kuf ק
The letter kuf means "monkey" (kof), the symbol of laughter of the month of Adar. In accordance with the idiom "as a monkey in the face of man," the kuf also symbolizes masquerade, an accepted custom of Purim. Before the miracle of Purim, G-d Himself "hid His face" from His children Israel (in the entire story of Purim, as related in the book of Esther, His Name does not appear even once). By initially hiding one's true identity, pretending to be someone else, the innermost essence of one's true self becomes revealed. On Purim we reach the level of the "unknowable head" ("the head that does not know itself nor is known to others"), the state of total existential hiddeness of self from self, for the sake of "giving birth" to one's ultimate self anew.
The word "kuf" also means the "eye of a needle." Our sages teach us that even in the most irrational dream one cannot see an elephant passing through the eye of a needle. Yet, on Purim one experiences this great wonder, which, in Kabbalah and Chassidut, symbolizes the truly infinite essence of G-d's transcendent lightentering into the finite context of physical reality and revealing itself in full to the Jewish soul.
Mazal: dagim (Pisces-fish).
Fish are the creatures of the "hidden world" (the sea). So are the souls of Israel "fish" that swim in the waters of the Torah. The true identity and fortune of Israel is invisible in this world. The revelation of Purim, the revelation of Israel's true identity, reflects the revelation of the world to come (the miracle of Purim is understood to reflect in this world the ultimate miracle: the resurrection in the world to come).
The word "dag" (the singular of "dagim") is interpreted to represent the "tikkun" (rectification) of da'ag--"to worry." In the Bible, the word for fish--dag--actually appears once written as da'ag: In the time of Nechemiah, certain unobservant Jews desecrated the holiness of the Shabbat by selling fish in the market of Jerusalem. Their "fish" had turned into excessive "worry" over earning a livelihood.
In the opposite direction, the fish of the joy of Purim, the strong mazal of Adar, converts all the worry in the heart of man to the ultimate joy of redemption with the new birth of self from the "unknowable head."
In Kabbalah, the name Naftali is read (as two words): nofet li, "sweetness is to me." The mitzvah on Purim to reach the level of the "unknowable head" by drinking wine etc., is expressed, in the words of our sages, as: "one is obligated on Purim to become sweet, until he is unable to differentiate between 'cursed be Haman' and 'blessed be Mordechai.'"
For more detailed information go to: http://www.inner.org/hebrew_calendar/index.php