Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Rosh Chodesh SHEVAT (שבט)


This Thursday we are going to celebrate "Rosh Chodesh", meaning the beginning of the new Jewish month of SHEVAT. 

The month of Shevat already hints to the upcoming spring although, many times, it doesn't look so at first sight. At the moment, it is freezing cold, cloudy and rainy. At least up here in northern Israel.

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 Pharao. 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 nationA 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 Deutoronomy (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 monotonya 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)

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 Yaale 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 !


  1. You forgot (by purpose?) 10 Shvas (Yud Shvas) the yartzheit of the Friediker Rebbe (which is also the day the Rebbe succeeded him as The Lubavitcher Rebbe).

    I mention this not to make some advertisements for Chabad, but because the Friediker Rebbe was a Gadol whose influence went well beyond the Lubavitchers. He was one of the leading Rabbis of Eastern Jewry and one of the very thirst Chasidic Rebbeim to emigrate to America. He was the initiator of the outreach movement in America.

  2. B"H

    Yes, I know about the Yahrzeit but I didn't leave it out on purpose.:-))))

    In fact, there are other Yahrzeits I left out as well. Among others Lelov and Vishnitz.

    The reason is that I cannot go into every Yahrzeit existing. I even left out the Rambam about ten days ago.