Rosh Chodesh Tammuz begins Sunday, June 25. There are no holidays to celebrate this month. Historically, it’s a time of mourning that recalls the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, the worship of the Golden Calf, and the heated anger that arose in Moses when he smashed the tablets.
There’s a fast on the 17th of Tammuz, beginning the three weeks of mourning that culminate in the fast of the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av). No marriages are performed during these three weeks, and, for some, no activities are engaged in that would warrant the Shehecheyanu being recited.
The task is to rein in the fiery emotions of passion and anger that can burn out of control. Mistakes made at this time could have a huge and lasting impact. It’s imperative to keep our balance.
We’re also charged with finding light in the extremes of darkness and keeping our connection to all that is light.
According to Kabbalah, three months are considered “dangerous” because their energies are extreme. Tammuz/Cancer is ruled by the moon and Av/Leo by the sun. One planet usually rules each sign. The third is the winter month of Tevet/Capricorn, ruled by Saturn.
The heat and intensity of Cancer and Leo oppose Aquarius and Capricorn, which are the darkest months of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Cancer moon represents the Shechinah, the divine feminine energy. Like the moon, it’s hidden and revealed. Moses’ mother hid him for three months and kept his identity secret. The bright, scorching sun of Leo opposes Capricorn’s darkness.
The metaphor of light and darkness is associated with wisdom and an illuminated path vs. being cloaked, mysterious and sometimes evil.
We look to the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation) to keep us in balance.
The zodiac sign for Tammuz is Cancer; Hebrew letter, chet; ruling planet, moon; tribe, Reuben; sense, sight; and controlling limb, right hand.
Those born under the sign of Cancer, represented by the crab, tend to be homebodies who stay inside their shells. Consistency and security are important to them. As a water sign, linked to emotions, they’re sensitive beings. Out of balance, they may become flooded with emotions.
Some are too preoccupied with how the world feels to them and have the crab’s claws ready to snap. Those sensitive to the feelings and thoughts of others are empathic healers. The crab only moves side to side, either left or right, which can result in a polarized way of viewing the world.
The Hebrew letter is chet, referencing life itself. The little hut over the letter serves as a bridge between worlds and suggests that Hashem hovers over creation.
Ruled by the moon, Cancer is the only sign in which the ruler visits monthly. The tides and our lifecycle events are orchestrated by the moon.
The tribe is Reuben, from the root “to see.” Jacob’s firstborn son damaged his relationship with his father when he allowed his ignited passion to rule as he chose to lay with his father’s concubine.
Fitting with the tribe is this month’s sense, sight. Passion and anger can blind us, as can, literally, looking at the sun. In darkness, we lose aspects of our vision. We can close our eyes to the goodness and beauty of G-d’s creation.
We can look the other way when it suits us, and we shorten our gaze in the mirror, forgetting that we are the reflection of divine energy.
The right hand is the controlling limb. The index finger points to the direction of focus. When we read from the Torah scroll, we use a yad, the small silver finger, to move along each word. When a Jewish couple marries, the groom places the unbroken band on the bride’s right index finger. We need to use this finger to point ourselves toward the right path, being careful not to point it toward anyone in arrogance or judgment.
Meditation focus: Look inward to connect with yourself. Lift your gaze to join with Hashem. Look outward to seek the light in others. As you shift your vision, what is the most difficult for you? Work toward achieving balance.