The Hebrew Letter "Tet,"
bound to the month of Av,
fifth month of the Jewish year, mid-summer.

Now the sun burns fiercely, scorching all she touches,
ground, birds, leaves, air.
Yet, gentling the apples in the orchards and
making the grape's juices sing.

As the moon waxes, so grows her heat.

If you listen, you can hear her flames hiss,
and can see the golden city now blackened,
smoke and ashes her only remains.

From the Holy of Holies a fox wanders,
watched by a few broken-hearted sages.*

Yet some seeds thrive only in soil once afire,
nestling there, waiting, invisible,
yet present, ready to grow,
from the ashes.

Notes:

*9th of Av, date of destruction, of both Temples, and eerily, other times in Jewish history of heartbreaking times.
*Talmud, Makkot 24b: Sages weeping for destruction, laughing for the hope of it's being rebuilt.

And as the heat, scorches the land so we meet
the tribe of this moon,
Simeon,

seething with anger, walking on edge,
zealotry mixed with rage,
explosive, dangerous.

Named in quiet desperation, her second son, Leah hoped
that he would make a difference,
would bring her husband's love her way.

Yet Simeon, along with his brother Levi, executed brutal vengence.
Violent killings done in Dinah's name, or just seizing the opportunity, to unleash?
He earned his father's death-bed curse for his viciousness
and cruelty, was named as a man to be shunned.

Later, he was bound by Joseph,
when the brothers came to Egypt seeking grain once more.
And later still, he was separated from Levi, as the tribes gathered round the Mishcan.
Placed
in the South, at sun's zenith, he was flanked by two strapping brothers,
his watch-keepers, who atoned for his excess, *aiding him turn,
in teshuvah.

His standard, the green of healing, embroidered with the town of Shechem,*
as reminder, memorial, testament, to violence perpetuated.
Banner of warning as well as holding prayer for change.

For anger, rage, the capacity for vast destruction, 
dwells, like Simeon, within each of us.

Notes:
* Simeon
's name: Genesis 29: 33.
*Jacob
's deathbed words to Simeon: Genesis 49:5..."Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, their wrath, for it is cruel."
*Simeon
and Levi's actions against Shechem, his family and city: Genesis 34: 25-31
*
Joseph's order to have Simeon bound: Genesis 42:24.
*
South, teshuvah: Midrash Rabbah Numbers 2:10
* "Reuven with teshuvah and Gad with his strength, had Simeon in between them, in order to make atonement for him." Midrash Rabbah
Numbers 2:10
*Simeon'
s flag, color and emblem: Midrash Rabbah Numbers 2:7
*Teshuvah: "
Return, response", seeing wrong-doing, making amends, changing course:
Midrash Rabbah
Numbers 2:10.

So we're told this moon, to attend closely,
and with the sense,
shmiah, hear
ing,
listen deeply now.

To be mindful of the lesson of Simeon,
of Av, for these

are vital.

Often we listen, hearing but briefly, as
our mind gathers responses, other thoughts crowding,
we listen, on the fly.

Now we're called to
 focus and to hear,
to put all else aside and to attend
on all levels.

For truly hearing
can change our existence.

Notes:

*Sefer Yetzirah pg. 214-215 Aryeh Kaplan

And so rises 
the
part of the body of this moon,
K'liya s'molit, the left kidney,

organ essential to life.*
Which filters essential lessons learned.

The left side*
speaks to the urgency of this work,
for our well-being,
for our sense of life.

The kidney accompanies us through the flames,
lending us strength, supporting our ability to survive,
to weather adversity,
the fires cutting away
all that's extraneous.

We rise,
and walk through the ruins, seeing the charred stones,
and with gevurah,
confront that which remains,
that which is.

Only by so doing, shall we be able
in right time,
to dance in the vineyards,

to open our hearts wide,
to receive Another.*

Notes:
*Chinese medicine's teaching yet again surface:
the kidney's st
rength determines our ability to survive,* that her spirit, "hun," gives rise to Intuition.
*Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine and Nursing
*Chinese Medicine: In the House of the Moon; Between Heaven and Earth;
Chinese Medicine for Maximum Immunity
*A Dictionary of Symbols

*On the 15th of Av comes the holy day of Tu B'Av, at the beginning of the grape harvest, when in Temple times stories tell of unwed women dressing in white and going into the vineyards, ready for courtship.

Underscoring
the importance of this work
comes
the house of house of descendants, banim.

What we do
with forces of violence within ourselves,
with devastation, destruction in our lives,
with wellings of grief.

What we do
with fire that burns within us,
anger, desires for vengeance and retribution.

How we handle these,
affects ourselves, those around us, and
those who follow us.

Eerily
that which haunts us, that which lies unfinished,
we pass down,
one way or another.


These stir
in our children,
grandchildren,
students. *


They observe us,
absorbing the unspoken.
They watch
what we do, what we say,
how we live,
how we tie our shoes.*

Notes:
* Chasidic Story: See Martin Buber's Tales of the Hasidim: of the disciple who goes to his rebbe to watch how he ties his shoes.
*In genograms, therapeutic maps of several generations of families, one can see this playing out vividly, the impact of secrets, alcoholism, dynamics, cycle through generations at times.

So we call upon the power of
Arieh, the lion,
sky-sign of this moon,
King of the beasts, scion of royalty,

passionate, yet in control of his passions,
killing only when vital, for sustaining life.

Linked with the sun, tawny and fierce,
well acquainted with living in heat,
he now strides boldly into his realm
,
invoking us to do the same.

Inviting the white heat of summer
to burn away
that which no longer serves us.

So we walk, through the fires destruction has rent in our lives,
confront again the losses which yet reside within,
do the work of mourning, which in so doing,
changes us.

Now we walk through the fires we hold within us,
owning their force.

Now we summon the lion's courage to go to the heart of that destroyed,
and tell ourselves the truth.

For on the other side of the smoking coals,
lies
rebirth,
the opportunity to reshape ourselves,
the walk, having taught us
we've more strength, more power, more potential,
than sometimes we know.

So we turn,
learning again, 
to love, deeply and well,
to rededicate ourselves to living the life we have in our hands,
decisively ruling over destructive inclinations and storms,
widening our vision, gleaning understanding,
remembering our place in the Universe.
One who serves.

Notes:
* Sefer Yetzirah
*A Dictionary of Symbols

*The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects

And we drink thirstly the lessons
of the tet, the Hebrew letter of this moon.

Standing in the desert, she waits your arrival,
there to revive you. 

Curved like a cistern, her shape is like a well of water.
Gently tilt her now, and drink.

One side bowed in humility,
the other side bearing a crown of 'tagin',
head tilted, upwards.

In her center
a deep pool lies.
She beckons you enter, and
immerse in her waters.

Just as when she first appears in Torah, in the word, "tov",*
she affirms the well of goodness that lies in the core of all,*
woven throughout the world,
lying within you.

Like a mikvah, she'll hold you,
washing away all the soot.
So you will rise, ready,
to undertake the tasks of this moon.

Notes:
*'Tagin' =crowns: special calligraphy used in Torah, mezuzah and tefillin on certain letters.
*Zohar 2:230a "It's good is hidden within it."
*Genesis 1:4: "And behold the light was good."

Her numerical value and order in the Aleph-bet,
nine.

Nine,
the culmination of pregnancy.

In the ninth month, labor begins,
contractions, pain, birth.
A woman becomes a mother,
a child freshly enters the world.

Through the tunnel of pregnancy
and its fulfillment,
comes new life.

Nine,
staccato blasts of the shofar sounding 'teruah,'
cries of labor, of the creatures, invoking our awakening
on Rosh HaShannah morning, proclaims
the birth
of the new year.

Nine shows us the way.

That pain and suffering,
inner passions,
can take us,
to a brand new place.

Nine holds comfort, promise, reminder,
that life stands waiting for us beyond the smoking ruins.

There grapes hang,
ripe now for picking
and making into
wine.

Notes:
*Teruah is one of the types of shofar blasts sounded on Rosh HaShannah morning.

So we meet
Barakiel
, the angel of this moon,
who says,

"Arise.
I come to wake you from your lethargy,
stir you up, shake your world.

Sometimes it takes that flash of lightening snaking through the skies,
to see the true terrain of your life.

Watch my spear,
electric, luminous, dangerous, thing of beauty.
I will make vividly clear for you what truly is.

I will stir your soul
to long again,
for it's true life.

I will
illuminate your way
through this time of night.
And I will walk with you, by your side."

Notes:
* Sefer Yetzirah translated by Aryeh Kaplan
*Drashed Barakiel: from the Hebrew word Barak: lightening, flash, gleam, splendor of God.

Weavings

Our ancestral tree grows within our innermost column,
there with us as we bend, rise, toss in our sleep.

Silent sentry, knit into our bones,
it bears gifts and laughter, heartache and deep unspoken sorrows,
inner ghosts and legacies,
which call us in the night
to listen, to attend.

In the heat of day they rise once more with strength.

Anniversaries,
markers,
warnings,
held sometimes only as memories within our body.
Guilt, regrets, sadness,
wafting slowly, sharply, up our ribcage,
a spiral of smoke curling, round our hearts.

In this moon we meet it, in lieu of pushing it away.

We move with it, flowing where it takes us.
We grasp it with our hands and let it speak
,
listening,
allowing
those floods
to wash through our being, river-like,
carrying that which is ready to depart,
away, to the Sea.

Our ancestors knew
this was the route we need take,
going backwards in order to move forwards.

They knew that the work done in this season, matters,
impacts our lives,
others around us,
and those who follow after us.

So we walk, accompanied,
by the lion, buttressed by our left kidney,
shown the way by our angel,
graced by letter "tet", filled with water, to slake our thirst,
as we hike this rugged terrain.

And we call this moon by its names.

Av, leader, master, ancestor.

Menachum Av,
Consoler, Comforter.
W
hisperer of visions of restoration,
of untold sparkling mysteries,
which lie,
in wait of us.

Shimmering.
On the
other side.
Sending us,
Light.


Words with Tet-Musings

Tabaat: Ring                                      Tallit: Prayer-shawl            Tit: Mud, Loam, Clay
Tapiach: Pitcher                                Tal: dew

Av calls us, to go deeply into our hidden places.


We take off all adornments,
our rings and earrings, our sandals and veils, and enfold ourselves in tallit,
held under the wings of the Shechina,
and sit on the loam of earth to mourn.

Around our feet the dew tears, coaxing us to do the same.

And at day's end, we rise.
Walk to the well, drawing forth cool water,
and refill
our pitcher.

Tabach: to slaughter (an animal) kill, slaughter            
Taval: to immerse, dip, bathe                        Tabaa: to sink, be drowned
Tahar: to be cleansed, purified ritually         Tamei: to be ritually impure                           
Taam: to taste, savor, experience                 Taraf: to prey upon, tear to pieces

Long ago, in this moon, our people were slaughtered, torn to pieces, drowned in violence, in this time of summer flame.

And each year we immerse in memories, engraved into our cells, passed on, through bodies and souls, for centuries.
Each year, at this time, we return, to mourn. 

And when we stand again, it's as if emerging from the ritual bath,
we rise purified,
returning to our waiting lives.

Keenly aware of that walk
from tamei to tahor, and tahor to tamei,
while savoring the fruits ripening of our lives.

Teva: Nature                                       Tov: Good                     Tipesh: Fool                        Tiyul: trip, hike, excursion, outing

Standing before devastation, we glimpse fleetingly how foolishly at times we've spent the precious juice of our lives.

And we hike
out of our cities, moving towards healing, tucking into nature.

We enter forests and watch the rushing streams, see the eagles, flying overhead.

We walk through sun-lit fields, lie on soft sand beaches, sit on sun-warmed rocks, reconnecting with the Shaper of it All.

And we remember, the goodness that swirls around us in our world,
that tumbles within us, given to us, with each breath.

Honoring the small gifts, the simple pleasures, actually quite large,
which we hold within our hands.