The concept of Zodiac is not foreign to Jewish tradition. We have a long history of taking clues from the stars, though the relationship might be different from other approaches. Though this may also be true of other approaches, the Jewish tradition considers astrology to be instructive but not determinative. So, for example, in this week’s Torah reading, Pharaoh says to Moses, “May G-d be with you as you leave Egypt, because you’re gonna need it! I see that “bad” is approaching you.” Rashi, foremost commentary on the Torah, writes: “There is a star called “bad”, and I [pharaoh] see through my astrology that this star is approaching you in the wilderness, and it indicates that blood will be spilled.” Rashi continues that, after Moses prayed for mercy following the Golden Calf, G-d changed the blood pharaoh saw into the blood of circumcision.
So, we can gather information from the heavenly bodies, but the Torah suggests a way of looking at that information as suggestive but not determinative.
With that in mind, each Lunar Month has its own sign which approximately aligns with the Zodiac. As we enter the new month of Shevat, which begins Tuesday night/Wednesday, we enter into the sign called, in Hebrew, D’li, which means Bucket. This is obviously related to the Zodiac sign of Aquarius, which also begins right about now: Aquarius is the water-carrier. D’li is the Bucket that carries the water.
Interestingly, Wikipedia lists the key phrase of Aquarius as “I serve humanity.” This is almost aligned with the D’li, whose mantra could be “I serve the water.” One Chassidic master suggests that the water being spoken of is the Torah. Aquarius and D’li both suggest that this month is an opportunity to focus on how we serve a greater purpose beyond ourselves, and how we can empty ourselves out in order to serve that purpose all the better. Whether we serve humanity or G-d, or both, we can serve more fully the emptier we are.
Interestingly, this month features the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees. Beyond its legal ramifications – any fruit that formed before this date is tithed in the previous year, and any fruit that formed after this date is tithed in the coming year – it is a celebration of The Tree, the Tree of Life, from which we all gain our nourishment. So, in this month, we are the Buckets that bring the water to water the Tree which feeds us all.
This is a good opportunity to meditate on questions like: What am I serving? How available am I to serve the good? How do I know if I am doing a good job? How could I get better at it?
Chodesh Tov – a good month to everyone.