Thursday, July 7, 2011

2011 Tammuz

Last Shabbat we greeted Rosh Hodesh; the New Moon of Tammuz.   Cancer – the crab.  
The movement is towards chaos and disarray.  The energy is subtly shifting already.
Last week’s Torah portion, Hukat, told of the death of Miriam, and the resulting lack of water.  The people got angry. The Holy Blessed One instructed Moshe to speak to the rock and draw water out of it.  Instead he hit the rock. Water came forth and the people drank.  Moshe was denied access to the land as a result of this action after leading the people for 40 years.  This seems harsh. This subjugation of nature was not tolerated. 
This Shabbes we will read Balak; the portion about a King who feels threatened and wishes to curse the Nation of Yisrael. He hires a Bilaam. a sorcerer to invoke a curse. The intention to cause damage is clear. 
When it comes time to the so Bilaam cannot invoke it.  In the end the words of “Mah Tovu” are uttered – “How good are your tents, Ya-akov; the Mishkan; Dwelling place of Shekhinah” .  The curse, is not uttered.  Rather, he blessed the people. 
These portions mirror the non linear and unpredictable nature of this time of year.
Tammuz, as noted in the “Empowerment in the Solar Year” (see prior blog) chart posted earlier resonates like “midlife crisis”.  The Cancer crab can pinch. It calls for a questioning of values, direction, and lifestyle chosen.  It is an opportunity to examine conscious and unconscious patterns, the basic assumptions from which we operate and their validity in our lives today.  Often patterns remain longer than they are useful.
Early Judaism was based in the Temple and sacrifices.  The Temple was where people went to worship, to meet The Holy Presence.  On the 17th of Tammuz, Jerusalem was surrounded and on 9th of Av the Temple was destroyed (twice according to tradition). With the Temple gone, the people’s spiritual practice was destroyed. The first Rabbi’s gathered soon after and developed the second phase of Jewish practice based on the sacred times and the holy days.  The end of Temple based Judaism was a major shift in Jewish practice. 
The Reshimu; residue of these events color this time period.  We, like the first rabbis, are invited to consider assumptions and patterns that are ongoing.  Do they serve?  What should they be altered and how?
On a personal level, I meet Tammuz with trepidation.   In Tammuz; July 1997, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I recall the feeling of fear and uncertainty that came with the diagnosis.  I was afraid my life would end.  
The diagnosis revealed to me that there was something foundational was amiss with the way I was leading my life.  I had previously thought my lifestyle was healthy and life sustaining.   A deep knowing manifested in my soul that transformation was necessary for survival.  It caused me to reflect on my life choices and make significant changes.  Like the first rabbis who developed Jewish practice without the Temple, I had no idea how it might unfold. However, I was indeed fortunate, that the calendar cycle was ripe to support this kind of process at that time of the year.   Or because it happened then because of the opening.  We can not say for certain.
For me, this time of year marks the death of the secular corporate lifestyle that was consuming my life force.  It marks the birth of my commitment to tune into holiness always and continually refine this practice. 
Today, thankfully, I can confirm the diagnosis was a blessing. In disguise.  I am healthy, thank God.   The experience empowered me to turn my life around. I am grateful.
Every death is followed by a birth.  Every end marks a new beginning.  2000 years ago Temple-based Judaism was destroyed. Rabbinic Judaism was born.  "Cancer" is powerful time in the calendar.  Finding the lump in my breast and the subsequent diagnosis certainly gave me pause to reflect.

So we too, like the first rabbis, we ask ourselves, what is essential ?  What serves and what can be released? 
What are the unconscious patterns in our life that no longer serve?   Which new ones need be integrated into life? 

May gentle guidance arrive with sweetness this Summer and always. 


  1. Beautifully expressed, dear R. T'mimah. Thank you for sharing. Reminds me of the wonderful quote by Deena Metzger: "The Universe says/Life demands birth/And the two are Lovers"