Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Shevat: Be the Bucket

There has been a lot of fuss over the past couple of days. From the news to my facebook, I just can't get away from the big change. No - not the new calendar year! The new Jewish month, which starts Wednesday night (Jan 1) - Rosh Chodesh Shevat.

The zodiac symbol in Judaism is a bucket, while for the rest of the world it's water. This is one of only two months in the whole calendar where the symbols aren't exactly the same, so we definitely have something to learn from this. Water represents material things in Torah. It's definitely important to have stuff! As our Sages say in Pirkei Avot אין קמח אין תורה which basically means you can't learn Torah if you don't even have what to eat. But, what good is the water without a bucket? How are you going to bring it from the well to the kitchen to cook? Or to water your plants? Or even to drink from?

In addition, it's not enough to just have a bucket, but it must be sound. The bucket is really just a vessel, or kli כלי. In Judaism, the kli is us. Each one of us are a vessel, and we must be sound, fit to be able to hold whatever goodness G-d pours into us.

While the secular world is focused on the water, the gashmiut גשמיות (related to the word for rain geshem גשם), we can't forget how important it is to have a sound vessel. A colander is not going to be an efficient vessel for transporting that water. This month, make an effort to not get wrapped up in the material trappings of the world. They are definitely important, but without the work we put into ourselves to be better people, the other stuff is worthless.

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