Tempers Flare in the Fiery Month of Tammuz
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Tempers Flare in the Fiery Month of Tammuz

Dr. Terry Segal reflects on the intensity of the new Hebrew month.

Terry Segal
Terry Segal

Rosh Chodesh Tammuz was June 22-23. This month, devoid of holidays, includes the fast on the 17th day, beginning the three weeks of mourning ending on the 9th of Av. During this time, no weddings take place, new clothes aren’t worn, there’s no shaving or haircuts, no enjoyment of music, and no celebratory firsts.

We’re reminded of our historical events in Jerusalem during the destruction of the first and second temples, the worship of the golden calf and Moses’ tablet-smashing rage.

Our ancestors faced challenges in each month as we do today and we can’t ignore that many of the themes are similar. The Kabbalists observed the planets as they related to each sephira, the 10 attributes through which the Ein Sof, or Infinite One, is revealed, such as kindness, wisdom, understanding, discipline, etc. The inverted triangles of the Star of David correspond to the middle section of the Tree that connects top to bottom, heaven to earth, and left to right, the male and female qualities.

So what do we do with that? We observe the patterns inherent in the planets each month, match them against the issues that are present in our current world, and choose behaviors that are G-d-like.

The Kabbalists consider Tammuz to be one of three dangerous months because of its extreme energies. Av and Tevet are the other two. Tammuz, the first of the summer months, is filled with heat and explosive anger.

Add to this eclipse season and it ups the ante on heated emotions. Year 2020 has six eclipses, two solar and four lunar. This annual solar eclipse, visible in northern India, occurred June 21. The south and north nodes, referred to as the Nodes of Fate, symbolize fated experiences from our past that can affect our future. They’re viewed as actions we’ve taken, individually or collectively, returned to us as opportunities for correction.

The task for Tammuz is to temper our burning urges to express the yetzer hara, or inclination to evil. Currently, we can see these patterns waking us up to racial injustice along with the non-peaceful protests highlighting the yetzer hara. This awareness is for all of us, as we’re all reflections of The One.

Tammuz was a false prophet who died at the hands of a king. A story was told about his death, making him a tragic hero. Emotions were manipulated to make people weep. An idol was constructed near the Holy Temple. Its eyes were made of lead so when heated, they would cry tears that streamed down its face. This evoked compassion and an identification with the tragic story.

The zodiac sign is cancer, the crab. Those born under this water sign are sensitive homebodies who may develop a hard outer shell to protect their soft insides.

COVID-19 has made us homebodies, inside of our shells. Some have become crabby. In these times, many people feel as if they’re moving sideways, like the crab, rather than in forward motion. Attitudes can be polarized.

The Hebrew letter of Tammuz is chet, which appears as a hut. The ruling planet is the moon. Each of the months is ruled by one of 10 planets, with Tammuz and Av ruled by the moon and sun, respectively. The Shekinah, the Divine Feminine, moon energy brings watery emotions and feminine qualities of insight and intuition. Think of the effect the moon has on the tides.

The tribe is Reuben, from the root, “too see.” The sense is sight and we’re charged with adjusting our vision. We must look beyond behaviors and understand the primal emotions underneath, in both ourselves and others. We can be blinded by our passions and rage and so need to practice expression of Hashem’s Divine qualities.

The controlling limb is the right hand. On it is the index finger which, like the yad, keeps our place and points our direction, rather than pointing in judgment at another human being.

Meditation focus: See where your passions or anger are engaged and use that to serve G-d and our world.

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