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In Flows Shevat

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JewishTreats.org

Despite what one might expect, Jewish tradition does not dismiss the signs of the zodiac (Click here for a Treat on Jewish Months and the Zodiac). In fact, it is quite interesting to see how the astrological symbols relate to the actual months to which they are assigned.

The month of Shevat is represented by the water-bearer (known generally as Aquarius). Water is life, and indeed, it makes sense that the water-bearer represents the month of Shevat. The one Jewish holiday that is celebrated this month is Tu Bish’vat, the 15th of Shevat, which is traditionally the New Year of the trees. This usually strikes people as odd, since Tu Bish’vat generally occurs during the coldest days of winter. But, deep beneath the surface, the root system has been drawing water from the earth, and the sap begins to move upward into the trees. Life begins again its process of renewal.

Water, one of the four elements of nature, is often seen as a symbol of Jewish learning. The Torah itself is referred to as “mayim chaim,” living waters. The reference is that, similar to flowing (living) waters, the Torah constantly brings new life to people. The Torah tells us (Deuteronomy 1:5), that on the first of Shevat, “on the other side of the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this Torah… ”

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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