By Dr. Terry Segal | tsegal@atljewishtimes.com

Rosh Chodesh Shevat begins at sundown Sunday, Jan. 10. Each month on the Hebrew calendar offers us guidance for how to live our lives, according to the Sefir Yetzirah (Book of Formation).

Shevat’s Zodiac sign is Aquarius, Hebrew letter tzadi, ruling planet Saturn, tribe Asher, sense taste, and controlling organ stomach. Our task this month is to move away from self-serving desires and use our divine abilities as a bridge between the higher spiritual realms and the lower material domain.

Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of Shevat, marks the full moon and is the new year of the trees.

Dr. Terry Segal

Dr. Terry Segal

We are similar to these trees, with some parts hidden and some revealed. We have roots at our foundation, beneath the surface, as well as spiritual souls, like a Tree of Life, that are not observable.

Like tree trunks, our physical bodies are visible, and we reach upward and outward with our branches. As we mature, we bear fruit. Rather than just hoard our bounty, we learn to share with others to help feed the hungers of the world.

Aquarius is an air sign, represented by the water carrier. The constellation in the sky suggests the figure of man on the right and on the left, the vessel from which he spills overflowing water.

The month of Aquarius is associated with abundance and bliss. We’re intended to hone our unique gifts and pour them over the universe in an act of sharing.

The positive traits of Aquarians include being quick-witted, deep thinkers who enjoy the company of like-minded people. They are bequeathed with natural intelligence, are frequently at the helm of causes, and are loved by many. They are innovative, creative intellectuals who are unconventional in their approach to life.

Humphrey Bogart and Oprah Winfrey are famous Aquarians.

The negative aspects of this sign include that Aquarians seem to be in love with love itself. Often, they are emotionally disconnected from others and can appear aloof. Many are lonely and fearful of giving up their freedom. They seem to travel their own path and can exhibit a dark nature or humor.

We must look within ourselves to balance these energies.

The letter is tzadi, related to tzadik (righteous one). The qualities represent those for whom justice is valued.

Saturn is the ruling planet. If Aquarius is the funnel in which spirituality is drawn down from the heavens to the earth, Saturn offers the structure that expands the knowledge into spiritual teachings that become the actions of those realizing the soul’s purpose.

The tribe is Asher, to which Joshua gave the fertile land of Galilee. With abundant rainfall and a cooler climate, the tribe prospered, primarily from the olive oil that came from that region. This speaks to using the gifts we have to create abundance.

Taste is the featured sense. It is customary to try a new fruit this month or eat from the Seven Species, abundant in Israel during biblical times. These foods are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (honey).

We are not allowed to eat the first fruit on trees for three years. The fourth year’s fruit is for G-d, then we may eat from them during the fifth year. How much sweeter the taste when we have exercised self-control and discipline.

The stomach, the controlling organ, digests the food that has been consumed. In Chinese medicine, the stomach is not a single organ. It is paired with the spleen and is part of a five-organ system that digests, eliminates and regulates important functions in the body and affects emotional states. This process mirrors the importance of using each of our skills and combining them with others for a desired positive effect.

Meditation focus: Awaken from wintry slumber in the darkness and imagine the light of our ancestors shining down upon you. The water carrier collects the sustenance of the Jewish people and tips it over. See yourself as a vessel, waiting to be filled with that light and wisdom of the ages. Receive it. Taste the sweetness of life, digest its meaning, excrete the waste that doesn’t serve a purpose, and pay attention to the holiness that is present with us all of the time.