The Hebrew Letter "Chet,"
bound to the month of Tammuz,
fourth month of the Jewish year,
early summer.

Summer's sun both
ripens and parches.
Abundance and scarcity intertwine.

And a
s the moon wanes,
descent begins.
To
the inner places.

To hardship and travails,
holding 
way down
within their depths, 
ancient riverbeds,

through which
a narrow trickle of water
streams.*

Notes:
*Descent, on the 17th of Tammuz begins the period of descent, during the Siege of Jerusalem moving to the 9th of Av, destruction, of the Temples and other traumatic times in Jewish history, called Bein HaMetzarim.
*Water comes both from produce growing and the seeds of hope planted also traditionally in this period's culmination
on Tisha B'Av

So we're invoked to
awaken our sense this moon,
of Reiyah, sight.

To move
beyond the swift glance the fast pace of our lives allots.

To slow, quiet,

and open our inner eye,

to penetrate
the layers.


For this place
yields insight.

Crucial,
as the early flames of summer
begin to 
crackle.


Notes:
*Sefer Yetzirah pg. 214-215 Aryeh Kaplan

To our side comes  
Sartan, the crab, sky-sign of this moon,
crusty veteran, survivor.

Thrusting up from beneath the sand,
she emerges,
her sight shifting in 
all directions.

Tenacious traverser of both land and sea,
able to live in several worlds,
so in this moon are we called to do the same.

To live in our times, attending to that which needs doing,
and as well, to travel to times long past.

Symbolically linked with 
Destruction and
Creation,

she knows
how to ride these waves.

With soft center and hard outside shell,

moving with protection, outward,
ready, when needed, to tuck in and seek shelter.
Ensuring safety and wellbeing for the walk ahead.

Notes:
* Sefer Yetzirah
*A Dictionary of Symbols

*The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects

This moon we're called to learn
from those who came before us,
as we enter the
house of Avot, our ancestors.

Bound by golden links spanning the centuries,
our ancestors call us to learn from their sufferings,

"Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh L'zeh"*

Each time we enter the intimacy of standing prayer,
we begin by calling their names*
that they might empower us, stand as our allies.

This moon we go back to times of trauma,
and travel through the events of their days.

Each year as earth heats up, we begin this descent,
entering their dreams and their nightmares,
seared upon our memories,
imprinted within our cells,
which hold warning and instruction.


As the sun reaches her zenith, we reaffirm our bonds with them.
Valuing the power of their lives.

We stand, side by side,
in the increasing heat.

Notes:
*Shavuot 39a: All Israel is joined one to the other"
*Our time of standing prayer three times a day begins with calling upon our ancestors, in the Amidah.

One of the many lessons we learn through the living of life,
is when to extend our hand.

So this moon we meet
the part of the body,
yad yamin, the right hand.


Hands open the way,
hold books, swords, found-objects, other hands.

Touching, they give and receive pleasure.
They create new forms.

Hands in Torah carry power;
God's "out-stretched hand"*  carved our way to freedom,
Mose's uplifted hands,*enabled victory in battle,
Aaron's hands raised in blessing, shed peace
upon his people.*

 

Now we are bid to extend our right hand
linked with Compassion,
as we step into the depths.

The promise, "the right hand draws near,"*
echoes through us
as we move into the shadows.

Notes:
*"Right hand, outstretched" Song of the Sea: Exodus 15: 6
*Moses hand lifted in battle as Joshua led against Amalek: Exodus 17:11f
*Aaron lifted hands in blessing the people: Leviticus 9:22
*Priestly blessing: Birchat Kohanim: Numbers 6:23f practiced by the lifting of hands
*Sotah 47a: "The right hand draws near."

And Reuben, the tribe of this moon,
comes to our side.

He who learned lessons in life through hardship and angst,
yet emerged, ennobled.

Reuben, Jacob's first born, lifted with pride by Leah, 
who proclaimed his arrival with glee,
this young man earned his father's deathbed pronouncement, as being "unstable as water"
having con-coursed with his father's concubine.

Yet later in life he did rise,
giving honor to his rank,
consciously taking on the mantle of leader, striving to avert Joseph's death,
blocking his brothers plans to kill, *
and later
swearing to Benjamin's safe return to his grieving father,*
with the lives of his own sons as surety.

Model
of one who moved from poor early responses in life,
who through grit, hard work, and teshuvah,

changed course,
cleansing,
refining his character and soul. *

He stood round the Mishcan in the South, where the sun reaches her zenith,
where "rains and dews come forth bringing blessing to the earth."

His ruby-colored flag embroidered with the mandrake roots fortuitously unearthed,*
the symbol of
fertility.

Showing how one after struggle,
can bear rich fruit.

Notes:
* Reuven's name: Genesis 29: 32.
"See a son!" naming him,"Reuven"
*Jacob's deathbed words to Reuven: Genesis 49:3: "unstable as water"
*Reuven's taking of Bilhah: Genesis 35: 22.
* Reuven's attempts to aid Joseph and then Benjamin: Genesis 37:18-22; 37: 29-31; 42:22; 42: 37-38.
*South, blessing, teshuvah: Midrash Rabbah Numbers 2:10
*Reuben's flag, color and emblem: Midrash Rabbah Numbers 2:7
*Mandrake story: Genesis 30:14-16
*Teshuvah: "Return, response", seeing wrong-doing, making amends, changing course:
*Midrash Rabbah Numbers 2:10.

Fortified, we now meet
the Hebrew letter of this moon,
Chet,
drawing comfort
from her shape.

A curved canopy,
arched
upwards in her center,
she hovers over us,
as does the eagle her young.*

Just as in the very Beginning, the Spirit of God
shimmered over the face of the Waters,*
the chet stands, sign of protection.

Gateway to another realm,
her doorposts on both sides two zayins, swords, flames of Torah,
she illuminates the way.

Notes:
*The Ari, Isaac Luria, commented on the choteret, the top arched bridge of the Chet found in the calligraphy of the chet in Torah, linking with the image of God "hovering," as found in:
*Deuteronomy 32: 11: "As an eagle that stirs up her nest, hovers over her young" (yerachef)
*Genesis 1:2: "And the spirit of God hovered over the waters" (Me'rachefet)
*In Hebrew calligraphy she's made with two zayins, meaning 'swords' 

 Her name,
"Chet" means
"sin,"*
"fear", "dread."*

Same sound,
different letters and meanings,
yet all join together in this moon.

Some say
ancestral sins brought about this descent.
Our sages warn 
of senseless hatred.

In this time our ancestors knew fear and terror
which yet echo

in our calendar, in our memories,
through our veins,
in this moon of
ripenings and pulls,
downward,
inward.

Notes:
*Chet Tet Aleph is the root for "sin"
*Chet Tav, "fear, dread"

Chet's numerical value and order in the Aleph-bet,
eight.

On the eighth day of life,
we enter intimate relation, Brit, covenant,
with the Holy.

As we first open our eyes,
the world yet an unknown place,
largely unseen,
we, vulnerable, in need of protection.

For eight days in the darkest time of year,
Chanuka,
time of Re-dedication,
we realign ourselves, our lives, and kindle light. 

Remembering our purpose here,
we link, consciously now, with the One
Who dreamed us
alive.

Symbol of Infinity, eight placed on it's side, one beyond Creation's seven,
hints of eternity,
one step beyond nature's order.

It's said in our tradition,
that a harp, awaits  us in the Next World, strung with eight strings,
one additional string
than the seven-stringed harp which sung so sweetly
in the Temple.*

Covenant, Re-dedication,
Infinity, the singing harp,
we pack now on our back,
promises,
treasures,
from which to sustain ourselves when our spirits grow thirsty
during this walk
in the heat, 
in this dry season.

Supplies
carrying us towards
culmination, wholeness.

Notes:
*Eight strings: Talmud, Aruchin 13b; Midrash Rabbah Numbers 15:11

So we meet
Zuriel
, angel of this moon.

"When lost, dry, overcome
by flame,
it's easy to become estranged, lose connection,
fall away.

I know that place. I am its guardian.
It is a walk of power, of value.

For from that walk, at its end,
sight becomes sharper.
All becomes more clear. 

So I, master of this realm and circle-maker,
draw a sphere of protection round you now,
to hold you,
to keep you safe,
as you go
where you need travel.

I will be there,
right by your side."

Notes:
* Sefer Yetzirah translated by Aryeh Kaplan
*Drashed Zuriel: Zar: to become alienated, estranged, fall away
Zur: Circle.


Weavings

There are times
when we need slow
and look

within ourselves,
backwards, forwards,
at the small picture, the big one,
the vast continuum.

There are times we need face eras,
of destruction
in the world,
in our lives.

Devastation
that we've heard of,
that we've experienced,
that we've sown.

Our visits to this place, filled with ghosts and stories,
rend the soul, open us,
preparing our internal ground
so that when we leave we can more vividly, 
re-create.


While we wander this terrain
we carry within
mandrakes growing in the fields,
buried, waiting for us.
Filled with possibilities, symbols of fertility.

So we go to places noble and shameful.
Survey the triumphs of the human spirit as well as the destruction,
look upon devastation which breaks the heart.

Knowing, in the end, we will rise again.
That those ashes on the ground
make earth more fertile.

And through them richness

shall grow,
bringing in its wake
new forms 
of life.


Words with Chet, musings

Chabosh: Quince                              Chof: Shore, coast              Chasida: Stork
Chevel: Rope                                    Chazir: Pig                          Chupah:Wedding canopy
Chevel: Pain                                    Chitah: Wheat                     Chatzir: Hay
Chavatzelet: Lilly                             Chayal: Soldier                   Cherev: Sword
Chever: Friend                                 Chalav: Milk                      Charvah: Waste, Ruin
Chag: Holiday                                  Chalon: Window                 Charuv: Carob
Cheder: Classroom,Study Texts       Chalutz: Pioneer                 Chol: Sand, Phoenix
Chalil: Flute                                     Charoset                              Choref: Winter
Choleh: Person who's ill                  Chamah: Sun                       Chum: Brown
Cheresh: Person who's deaf            Chamor: Donkey, Ass         Chomah: Wall
Chomer: Clay                                  Chatul: Cat                         Chatan: Bridegroom
Choshen: High Priest's Breastplate
Challah    
Chodesh: Month


Summer windows now wide open, cats resting on their sills, music of wooden flutes drifting by.
Wafts of Lilly embrace us as we wake, while heat shimmers in sun-kissed fields.
Cold milk nourishes us, feeling heavenly right now.

On the new moon friends gather to feast on freshly-grown summer fruits.
Brown earth yet clings to the roots of vegetables, straight from the fields.

On Shabbas we utter blessings over challah, grateful for the bounty of it all,
while remembering those who came before us, who yet lie in our souls.
Pioneers who walked through wastelands imaging gardens, planting carob trees while plowing earth of clay.
Soldiers who fought for the land, offering their lives, that their people could return home and finally live in peace.

Pain mixed with beauty, softly still a presence, just as surely as the quince blossoms declare springs return
in the midst of winter rains.
This, a time of grace, of remembering, gifts received.

Chavah: Eve                                    Chatzot: Midnight                     Chadash: New, fresh
Chesed: Loving-Kindness                Chazon: Prophecy                     Chok: Law
Chayil: Valor                                    Cheirut: Freedom                     Chalom: Dream
Chashuv: Important                        Choshech: Darkness                  Cham: Hot
Chatum: Sealed, closed                   Chen: Grace                             
Chovah: Duty, obligation
Chelm: Town of foolish folks

Hot sunshine pours down and surrounds us, the answer to our winter dreams.
Eve walks the roads each morning, celebrating the beauty of the day.
The grace of summer, chesed, pours down all around us.
Summer gifts the freedom to be in it all.

Magnificent midnights shimmering with stars. The calm of darkness nourishing after the heat of the day.
Ours to balance the duties of life with celebration of the season.

For this is when prophecies rise, from the sheer majesty of this symphony of life.
While with Chelm-like silliness, we cavort in the unexpected summer shower which refreshes the land.

Chidesh: To renew, renovate, revive               Chileil: To violate, desecrate, profane
Chazak: To be strong                                      Chalak: To divide, share, allot
Chazar: To return, go back                             Chanack: To dedicate, teach, educate
Chataa: To sin, transgress                              Chafeitz: To wish, desire, want
Chayaah: To live. be alive, survive                Chatzav: To hew, carve
Chiyaich: To smile                                          Chacham: To be wise, clever, prudent

In summer stillness we renew our souls. Taking time when life slows a little, to strengthen the parts grown weary
from the year, remembering the selves we wish to be.

We know in our souls at times, we've violated our lives, and we know just as surely, we need go back and grow ourselves, using the wisdom we've gleaned thus far in our lives.

We draw on the sun to turn, carve out time, and do this work, as we move indoors from the heat of the day.

We begin to live our understandings, our actions teaching both ourselves and those around us.
And as we labor in the summer's sun, we honor as well, the surge within to live, to smile, to wish, to dream. 
Summer work.