Moon Over Maui

A Jewish Mystical Journey through the Year

Tammuz As Technology

Written By: Jueli Garfinkle - Jul• 02•12

I’ve been tracking these first two weeks of the Tammuz moon cycle the way our ancestors used to—by looking up into the sky. For the past two weeks (and all of Tammuz, thus far), my family of four was on a “no-screens vacation” in the South Shore of Maui. No computer, no phone, no email—we even decided not to take many pictures. Consciously, we stepped away from the insistence of being technologically connected at all times. No artificial clicking, beeping, or tapping.

Instead, we fell into love and deeper levels of connection. We played at the beach, camped in the rainforest, swam in lava caves, and watched the sun set and rise. Conversations took more time. The texture and colors of our experiences, observations, and emotions were more palpable. We made baskets from palm trees. We made music from coconut shells.

Friends Jenny and Noah made this basket from fallen palm trees.

Of course, unplugging is easier to do while vacationing in Hawai’i, but still.

Many times, my six-year-old girl asked for my iPhone. “I have to look something up,” she’d emphatically say.

“Ask somebody,” I responded again and again, emphasizing the power of people knowledge. Not surprisingly, someone always knew what to feed a slug, how to fix a spool-knitting project, and could confirm whether violet and purple were, in fact, the same color. Who needs technology?!

We took more walks, colored more pages, laughed harder, and definitely snuggled more. The children’s courage rose; our interdynamics intensified. We noticed nature more and talked about it.

Everyone noticed the moon.

On our last night of vacation, Tammuz's glow on the Pacific woke me from sleep. (I took this picture off the lanai of our condo.)


“Hey, Mom/Jueli/Honey/Sweetie,” someone would say, pointing to the sky. “There’s the moon.”

My heart would smile first, as I followed the angle of their finger. And then my mouth would spread wide. There was Tammuz slowing growing in the sky.

In days long past, before any technology, people tracked the passage of time by following the moon cycles. In fact, the first commandment given to the Jewish people as they left Egypt as slaves was to keep track of time by the moon (Exodus 12:1-2). To be in charge of your own time is a sign of freedom.

Try keeping track of time by watching the moon this month. On Wednesday, its fullness will beam down on the eve of Independence Day, when the United States was birthed into freedom. Then, as the moon wanes down to a quarter and then sliver again, the month is coming to a close. You’ll know Rosh Chodesh Av (the moon of the coming month of Av) has begun when you see a new crescent moon hanging in the sky. And the cycle then begins again

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You don’t need to look anything up on the Internet; you just need to look up in the sky.

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One Comment

  1. Lee Lavi says:

    Tamuz, with its power and intensity defines time — indeed. The past two weeks presented days in which a clear stand needed to be taken, amidst the intensified matrix — to deeply connect with the heart.
    Shechinah is farther for another six weeks and with it the strive to connection. We can find it in the core of our soul.

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