Moon Over Maui

A Jewish Mystical Journey through the Year

The Internal Heat of Tevet

Written By: Jueli Garfinkle - Jan• 03•12

The Tevet moon already is nearly three-quarters full. The final nights of Chanukah candles were still aglow when I noticed the smallest sliver of Tevet cresting high above the Nevada desert.

Tevet New Moon Rises Over Nevada Desert

After two weeks of uninterrupted vacation togetherness, my children’s little voices reached epic proportions. My boy’s face turned red and his little veins popped out of his neck as he screamed at his sister for sitting on “his side” of the sofa. My girl dissolved into sobbing puddles of salt water because her brother touched the straw on her “special cup.” And always, the moniker—Mooooooooooom!—screeching as the final punctuation. As if I could do anything.

True, they were worn down from late-night parties, flashing neon lights, and unknown relatives continually amazed by their glory, brilliance, and beauty. But, their heat was also due to the Tevet moon growing in intensity.

Although the weather outside is colder, Tevet is a month of internal heat. From now through January 24, don’t be surprised if you feel a spike in anger. You may flash red with rage when your spouse calls to tell you they’re going to be home later than expected; superlatives may fly through your head on numerous occasion; you may wish you could spit at your boss just for walking into your shoebox cubical; or you might feel an uncomfortable irritation just beneath your skin.

Though you may blame raging hormones for secret homicidal tendencies, these moods are actually part of the energy of this month. According to Jewish mysticism, this period of time is devoted to healing and transforming anger. Without exception, you will feel more intensity during the moon cycle of Tevet.

When you do flare up this month, remember being angry can be a form of idolatry (Ribner, Kabbalah Month by Month). That is, instead of accepting your actual experiences as they are, you find yourself getting upset or enraged. Instead of remembering that your neighbor values privacy, for example, during Tevet you may whisper to yourself “What a jerk!” when he doesn’t greet you.

Of course, sometimes it seems there is no appropriate response other than anger. So, be angry; but don’t act it out. Typically anger is an intense top-layer emotion that masks deeply buried more vulnerable feelings. Though it is hard to feel anger, know that it is arising this month for your healing: try to take full breaths, suspend your attitude, and feel your emotions.

Kolonymous Kalman Shapira, a rabbi of the Warsaw Ghetto, had a useful prescription for anger. He said: At the peak of your anger write a letter to the person you are angry with, give it everything you’ve got, and then instead of mailing it, read it to yourself aloud for an entire month! This exercise takes commitment, but it will point to where your anger is and how can you heal it inside of yourself. What did your written words reveal? Can you catch the light from the darkness of the explosion?

Don’t Worry, Be Angry

Often, people think they’re not supposed to be angry. But the Divine is designing your every moment, and that includes ALL emotion. It’s not that you never become angry, it’s that you learn to see the light in your anger. The Bal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, who lived during the eighteenth century, says that light cannot exist without darkness. If everything was pure light, you wouldn’t be able to see anything at all: there would be no distinction, no outline, no shadow. The fact that you can see means that darkness is present. So the task isn’t to fear or avoid the darkness. Rather it is to enter into it, and recognize God in it.

Calm in the Tevet Emotional Storm

My children are willing to take a few deep breaths when they recognize how upset they are. They’ll sit down, connect with themselves, and, though they might not intellectually know it, take respite from the swirl of heated emotion. The quiet, I know, is unsustainable, especially during this moon. But I’ll take it!

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