Friday, December 18, 2009
The second ever virtual Rosh Chodesh Club
Welcome Tevet! This is a good month as intimated by its name. Tevet – Tov- Goodness. I don’t know about you, but I could use a good month! So what is the power of this month? What makes it so great? This month is all about growing out of Anger. That's a good thing because anger hurts not only the ones we love, but also ourselves; emotionally and physically. Anger is a natural part of the human experience, but it is one that we are meant to outgrow. According to Rabbi Lazer Brody, anger and spiritual awareness go hand in hand. You cannot get close to Gd if anger is your constant companion. You can’t get close to joy either – I have yet to see a happy angry person. So how do you cut a lifelong buddy loose? The answer can be found in this month’s letter; Ayin. Ayin, is not just the name of the letter, it is also its meaning. Ayin means eye. The key to freedom and emotional maturity is perspective. It’s all in the way we look at things. If you have ever seen a Jewish woman mumble something under her breath and then spit three times and say poo poo poo (something they would punish their children for doing and saying), then you know about the concept of the evil eye. Tevet is about the good eye. More specifically it is about the transition from the evil eye to the good eye which is accomplished spiritually by looking at the Chanukah candles on the 8th and final day, which just happens to fall in Tevet. If I haven’t lost you yet, follow me a bit further. The evil eye is essentially a perspective of judgment. Appropriately, the Tribe of the month is Dan, which means to judge. When our evil eye is leading, we judge reality, others, and ourselves harshly. Anger is the result of confronting a reality that contradicts our expectations. We judge it as wrong. For example, if I have the expectation that drivers should be courteous, I may get a little ticked off at the person who cuts right in front me as I have just finished waiting 20 minutes on line to exit the highway. That’s judging harshly. The fact is that I have no idea why that person did what they did. Perhaps his wife is in labor. Perhaps he was born without the part of the brain that tells him how to interact appropriately with others. Leading with the good eye is a state of maturity which, ironically, takes a page from the behavior of children. While we are not meant to remain children forever, we can and should remain childlike. Children are playful and joyful. The antidote for anger is to lighten up. To play, to laugh, to dance, to sing. The sign of the month is the Gedi - -a kid/goat. There is a midrash in kohelet that teaches that at the age of 10 a child “jumps like a goat.” It is this playfulness that can chase away the big bad wolf of anger. If you think this sounds too simple, just take a trip to Disney World and try to get angry. I dare you. You just can’t get angry in a place where even the street sweeper is whistling a happy tune and tap dancing with his broomstick as he works. The truth is that we don’t control the really serious things (or for that matter, trivial things) in life anyway. That’s Gd’s job. If it’s our expectations versus Gd’s chosen reality, He is going to win. Every time. May as well enjoy it rather than fight it. Ultimately, there is nothing to get angry about anyway. It’s all good. It’s all Gd. And we are all just children learning how to play the grandest game of life.