Tevet: A People of Hope

Tevet: A People of Hope

New Moon Meditations by Dr. Terry Segal

Rosh Chodesh Tevet begins today, Friday, Dec. 30, the sixth day of Chanukah.

The zodiac sign is Capricorn; Hebrew letter, ayin; tribe, Dan; sense, anger; and controlling organ, liver.

Dr. Terry Segal
Dr. Terry Segal

Winter tiptoed in on icy feet Dec. 21 at 5:44 a.m. In winter, we must light the darkness to prevent stumbling and becoming lost. Figuratively, darkness is ignorance or evil. Our task in Tevet is to acknowledge the contrasting energies of light and darkness and illuminate both our outer and inner visions.

When we walk with Hashem, our candles are lighted from within, and no one can extinguish our flames of hope. Positive actions fan the divine sparks.

I can’t write of hope without mentioning Michelle Obama’s commentary on the death of hope in her interview with Oprah Winfrey. In my opinion, her speech as the current first lady was irresponsible and counters everything required to heal the divide in our nation.

Had she been in private conversation with Oprah, expressing her despair, fears and feelings would be fine. Instead, this well-educated, powerful woman misused her position to send out a message of gloom and doom at a vulnerable time, further highlighting the notion of the Divided States of America.

“Hope is dead” is not the message we need. I thought the first lady might then announce to Christian children that there’s no Santa Claus. Maybe she’d eat a whole cake, invalidating the educational work she’s done to combat childhood obesity. Perhaps she’d suggest that people battling cancer should abandon hope because there has been no cure. Maybe she’d tell us that our mothers were bad, apple pie comes from a box, and baseball is fixed.

My response was uncharacteristically unforgiving, so I looked to the Sefer Yetzirah for direction. Tevet’s Capricorn spirit has us steadfastly climbing upward on the craggy mountainside like the goat that is its symbol. Capricorn qualities, present in everyone’s chart, are described as stoic, worthy of respect, and powerful but, if challenged, collapsed in self-esteem.

I tried to look past Michelle Obama’s opinion but couldn’t get beyond the damage it could cause.

The Hebrew letter is ayin. Tevet comes from tov ayin, “the goodly eye,” which shall bless us on our climb. The evil eye of hatred cannot be allowed to prevail. I tried to look with the goodly eye.

The tribe of Dan, which means “to judge,” urges us to assess our own actions as mature ones that benefit all. I was certainly judging.

The sense of anger coordinates with the controlling organ of the liver, as both contain fiery heat when imbalanced. The liver’s function is to purify the blood. In Kabbalah, the body and soul are ruled by the brain, heart and liver, which are linked to Adam, Eve and the snake. My liver was running hot.

In an effort to reframe my anger over hope being crushed, I focused on the fact that we, as a people, come from hope. What if the Maccabees didn’t have hope? What if courageous survivors of the Holocaust had given up hope? We owe it to them to honor the power of hope and its place in our past, as well as the need for it in our current world.

I’m sad for Michelle Obama if she doesn’t have hope, but she can’t take away mine. Or yours.

What does hope look like? It looks like our menorahs placed in front of a window or mirror, where the light of hope is doubled. Hope is lighting the candle of someone else who is sitting in darkness.

Each of us is a beautiful, colorful piece of delicate glass in a kaleidoscope. No matter how things twist and turn, when joined with other beautiful pieces, glowing with the divine spark of hope, the result can be a completely new configuration of shapes and patterns more glorious than each individual piece on its own. We must each figure out our part.

Meditation Focus

Sit in darkness to access your hidden sparks, then light a candle. Watch the flame and envision the unique way you can bring light and hope to our world.

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