A poem in celebration of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz written by by dear friend Julie Oscherwitz Grant.
We store inside
Our feelings, thoughts
Distilled from moments dark and light.
The light pours in, it dances, floats
To settle in on wispy clouds
And warms all that it comes across.
Through no made choice
Or thru an action, choshech comes,
It washes over, penetrates
In maze-like fashion
Seeps and spreads
And seemingly obliterates
The marshmallow light
Sweet warm and bright.
The inky weight of heavy times
Can wield its force
Weigh down our bones,
And wrestle hope
And glee until
They’re out of sight
And feel and reach.
As we, the women, celebrate
Our gift of ushering each new moon
We must, and can, uniquely
Face the whole of history
As is our sacred Jewish way.
Tammuz, when viewed from start
Encompasses the whole of life
With blessings, courage, miracles
And falls from grace to deep despair.
We enter it rejoicing from
Receiving our most sacred gift
The Torah, work of light and truth
But stored in memory, women most,
We know life flows through cycles,
Circles, watch the slivery moon evolve
And feel each season reignite
The past, the trials, joys,
We pray, reread, retell
And fast, our deepest dig of all.
So come Tammuz, with Av to follow
We see darkness looming near
Our inner vessels, holders, selves
Prepare to open and admit
Reflection on our darkest times
As one we face the broken tablets,
shattered lives, Temple burned.
We note on 16th of Tammuz
Moses’ delay in coming down
To bring our people sacred words
wreaks havoc, shakes our people’s faith
Resulting in the golden calf.
So many yield, the urge too strong
(Though women, cool, unwavering,
Hold back their jewels, do not succumb
A midrash says their recognition
For not letting idols reign
Was to command they celebrate
Rosh Chodesh, their unique domain.
Another date, the third Tammuz
Saw battle raging in our land
As darkened skies approached,Yehoshua
took charge, and pled his case
‘O Sun stand still over Gibeon’
And moon over the valley near
To conquer enemies we need
The light, and so Hashem obliged.
In chapter 10 of Joshua is written
That the sun stood still and later,
That before or since, there’s been no day
When heard the Lord the voice of man
And heeded him. A onetime wondrous
Happening, between a man and the divine.
One more of many dates to mark
In Tammuz, loss of one so wise
Revered, a guide, the Rebbe
Menachem Mendel Schneerson who
Among his many teachings said
Find and fulfill your life’s mission,
Answer evil’s force with love,
And reach your hand to every Jew.
Lord Rabbi Sacks once said his presence
Left you feeling humble, blessed.
So we remember and reflect
Let prayers and stories freely flow
And stir our souls, each her own way
As in the month we mark this day.
Our lives abound with moments linked
One to the next, though oft they meld
But some stand out, stand tests of time
And come alive to be re-faced.
My father’s Jewish learning path
Wove through the rituals we know
But his lament was that it lacked
The depths and heights our souls could reach
The learning rote, the meaning missed
Delicious soup but souls adrift.
The richness, wisdom there to plumb
He couldn’t feel, absorb
Needing an interpreter
To make the sacred moments real.
To delve, and feel authentically
The joy, the wonder, and despair
Evoked through focused, earnest prayer.
Or discourse, lively, challenging
Impassioned, Hillel, Shammai style,
Encased in reverence, love, respect.
Oh, as we traverse life’s array
Of challenges, pursuits, travails
We face a choice, dive in, observe
Brave inky depths, soar joyfully
And sometimes glide and coast along
A taste of this, a test of that, engaging
In what comes our way, and then at times
We rest, reflect, and search the skies
Our spirits rise, the moon’s aglow,
It wanes and waxes, circling
The earth, reminding as it goes
That like it, we too move, renew
From full to halved and then at last
Behold! Luminous crescent comes.
We wish all peace; time’s guide, this orb’s
Our moment, women, to absorb.