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Torah Tidbits


What’s My Avodah in Chodesh Sivan?

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By: Hani Lowenstein

Do you ever feel like time is running away from you?

Did Sefiras HaOmer zoom by, with you forgetting what day it was by the second week?

Did Shavuos show up before you could even research new cheesecake recipes?

Life as a Jewish woman can get pretty busy. But, the good news—make that the great news—is that each day in the Jewish calendar is pregnant with meaning.  That’s because Jewish time is not linear; it works in cycles or spirals. Rabbi Akiva Tatz so beautifully explains this profound concept in his book, Living Inspired (a must-read):

“No two moments are ever identical--each re-visiting of a point in time is really corresponding but higher; the work demanded is to “correct” or energize each point correctly, no point ever presents itself twice and therefore each day of a human life, each moment in fact, needs specific spiritual effort…time is not the passive matrix on which we imprint our actions, it is the energy source for those actions.”

If we learn how to utilize time properly, then each day and each month has unique potential for meaning and growth in avodas Hashem.

According to the Sefer HaYetzirah (a very old Kabbalistic-style work), each month has a particular letter, shevet, sense or action, and astrological sign connected to it, that help guide us in our own avodah for that month.  The month of Sivan is connected to the action of hiluch (walking).  I would like to suggest three ways for us to integrate this concept of hiluch into our everyday lives as Jewish women. (As always, I am talking to myself just as much as everyone else):

1)    ON THE GO - Our daily lives bog us down and sap us of our emotional and physical energy. It can, in many ways, be very easy to become complacent about our internal growth. A person who incorporates the concept of hiluch into their daily lives does not live a religious life which is static; rather, they are constantly in motion, they are continuously striving to grow, to improve, to come to a deeper inner knowledge of themselves, so that they can take steps back to the Boreh Olam.[1] Let’s set aside a few minutes each day to consider how we can create a more dynamic approach to our religious growth.

 2)    LOST AND NOT YET FOUND - The concept of hiluch instructs us to value the process and not just the outcome.  Malbim (a 19th century commentator who was born in present day Ukraine), in his commentary on Sefer Tehillim, asks why the Tehillim 105:3 says “yismach lev mevakshei hashem” (the heart of those who seek Hashem rejoice): Wouldn’t a person only be happy if they found what they were seeking? Perhaps, the Malbim suggests, the entire purpose of our search for Hashem is the seeking (the process), and not the finding (the outcome). G-d is infinite and we are finite. Even if we do attain our goals for growth, our journey is not over, and in many ways is just beginning. Let’s work this month on reframing our outlook; let’s aim to grow from our life journeys, even when we don’t feel that we have reached our final destination. [2]  

3)    A LIVING TORAH?[3] - The shevet for the month of Sivan is Zevulun; a shevet whom the Torah refers to as merchants that work in order to provide monetary sustenance for a shevet that is steeped in Torah learning—Shevet Yissaschar. Shevet Zevulun was not able to sit in the beit midrash all day learning. They had to go out into the world and work in the world of business. The challenge for Shevet Zevulun was to take the halachah and turn it into halichah, into a way of living. In the midst of a business deal, of a long exhausting trip, of their daily normal lives, they had to take the Torah they had learned and turn it into the Torah that they lived. Let’s contemplate how much the Torah ‘lives’ within us and directs our thoughts and actions, as we go about our daily lives.

 The month of Sivan, which begins with Shavuos, instructs us to take the Torah that we received on Shavuos and to create a reality where it walks with us as we make the trek through the physical and spiritual challenges of our day to day lives.

 

[1] Based upon the writings of Rav Yitzchak Ginsburgh on Chodesh Sivan.

[2] If you are interested in learning more about process vs. outcome see Rabbe Nachman’s story of The Lost Princess and commentaries on this story.

[3] Based upon the writings of Rav Yitzchak Ginsburgh on Chodesh Sivan.

 
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Hani Lowenstein

is a devoted wife and mother of four energetic boys. She received a BA from the Stern College for Women Honors program and an MA from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University in Modern Jewish History. Hani is passionate about the importance of a Jewish woman’s religious development throughout the many chapters and stages of her life. She currently works part-time at a Jewish organization and has taught Torah in various settings. She cherishes writing as a creative outlet. *The opinions expressed in this article are Hani’s personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the position of the organization where she works.*