Rosh Chodesh Tishrei always begins on Rosh Hashanah, which was Sept. 19. Not only have we been paying attention to purifying our own souls and clearing our slates, but this year, we’re aware of the global transformation required of the inhabitants of the whole world. We can never go back to the way it was, with the “old” normal.
That’s why the month of Tishrei is so important as a new beginning. And what a busy time it is with the adjustments to the ever-changing structures of school, shifts in households with students off to college, or in families that have suffered the loss of loved ones. Tishrei hosts the Ten Days of Repentance, Shabbat Shuvah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, and Shabbat Bereshit.
One of Sukkot’s themes stands out as we assess our vulnerabilities. After our people were freed from slavery in Egypt, we endured many years of travel through uncertainty on the way to the Promised Land. Sukkot celebrates the protection that Hashem offered us in the extreme conditions of the desert. We need to believe that Hashem’s protection continues through these times of COVID, political dissonance and unrest.
The ritual of building a sukkah is a meticulous task. It’s built to spec, decorated, and then lived in as a temporary dwelling, for only a week. The task of building the world must be as specific, without mistakes of the past, decorated with the highest vibration of love and a wash of peace. It, too, will be temporary as the world and those in it continue to evolve.
This year of COVID has left all of us feeling vulnerable in some way. The pregnant women who attend doctor’s appointments alone; the babies born into communities from which they’re isolated; the bar or bat mitzvah; and the couples who postponed their weddings, wondering when they can gather with loved ones to dance, sing and celebrate their simchas, are vulnerable. There are the children who can’t socialize normally with friends and classmates, the elderly, those compromised by additional illnesses, and all people who are alone, separated from their families. Many have lost their homes, their businesses, their livelihood. With violence rampant and a rise in anti-Semitism, we are all vulnerable.
However, the sukkah provides a comforting boundary around us and invites us to look upward toward the expansive sky as we breathe in the crisp air, deeply. Hashem has never forsaken us. It is we who forget to connect ourselves to this Divine energy.
Our task, especially for this Tishrei, is to shore up our strength and renew our faith in G-d to balance our frailties and fears.
The zodiac air sign is Libra, represented by the scales of justice. Those born under the sign are consumed with symmetry and equilibrium. Everyone has the same challenge to find balance this month. The ruling planet is Venus. Governed by love, beauty and money, Libras adore high art, intellectualism and connoisseurship, as well as being outdoors. They abhor violence, injustice and confrontation. The strengths of the sign are practicality, level-headedness, diplomacy and logic. The weaknesses are grudge-holding, self-pity and the near-inability to be in solitude. It’s a difficult time to be without the company of others and witnessing violence and injustice. We strive to move into the new year as our best selves.
The Hebrew letter, Lamed, rises above the others. It’s time to take the higher road as we move toward the end of this secular year.
Ephraim, the tribe, means “procreation.” Global change requires rebirthing and renewing ourselves as individuals in order for the whole to transform.
Touch is the sense we’d normally use to foster connection. Currently, touch is greatly restricted and associated with fears of contamination. Instead of physical touch, think about how we can touch others with our words or acts of kindness.
The controlling organ is the gallbladder, which helps to expel poisons and cleanse our toxicity. Metaphorically, we must stop ingesting the poisons of contaminated information and toxic emotions.
Meditation Focus: It has been a tough year. Consider your vulnerabilities and assess your toxicity. Invite G-d in to renew your strength and purify your soul.