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Sivan (סִיוָן) Basics
Intro to the Jewish month of Sivan
Moon of Receiving (May/June)
Sivan is the month of receiving both communal and personal revelations at Sinai on Shavuot.
Linear Month: 9
Torah Month: 3
Offerings1: Wheat, Dairy, First Fruits
Element2: Mayim (מַיִם) Water within Eish (אֵשׁ) Fire
Spiritual Focus3: Uncover and expose hidden truths
Netivah: Neviah (נְבִיאָה) Prophetess
Astrological Sign: Gemini
Letter: Zayin – ז
Tarot Card4: Lovers
Soul Trait5: Emet (אמת) Truth
Note: Letter, Tribe, and Sense are derived from the Sefer Yetzirah
See NOTES for additional information on sources of these all correspondences.
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Shavuot is the holiday of revelation and first fruits. Agriculturally we are harvesting the first fruits of the year, and spiritually we are receiving the first fruits of our tradition — the ten commandments. Some believe that the entire torah was received on Sinai, but my read of the scripture is that it was the ten commandments. Tradition also tells us that each person heard Gods voice her/himself in the way that was right for them. Shavuot is truly the birth of the Tribe of Israel as a people – or the beginning of the tribe’s “marriage” to God.
The Torah portions around this time really are the story of a relationship. They go from the bride getting cold feet at Mt. Sinai (think about the Golden Calf) to the joyous wedding to the first fight between the couple (the “grumblings”) and the setting of ground rules for how the couple will live out their lives. There are several Jewish traditions that call the Tribe of Israel the bride of God, and its easy to read this month’s portions and watch the journey of this relationship unfold.
The tradition of eating dairy products on Shavuot often seems incongrous, but I think the simplest answer is from our agricultural heritage. This month would be when traditional cultures would begin milking cattle, goats, and sheep for the summer. According to Jessica Prentice, in her book “Full Moon Feasts,” points out that this is the time known as the Milk Moon for just this reason. In “The Rosh Chodesh Table” by Judith Solomon, it’s pointed out that Chalav, the Hebrew word for cheese, has the numerical value of 40. This is the same length of time that Moses stayed on Mt. Sinai to receive the ten commandments. This is just one of the connections that the rabbis have given us for the tradition of dairy on Shavuot, but the agrarian connections truly make the most sense.
1: Offerings & symbols were developed by Kohenet Ketzirah haMa’agelet for use as physical offering practices or in artwork.
The interpretations of the Sephirot are also from Rabbi Jill’s teachings. Specifically, they are from her Omer Calendar of Bibilical Women.
3: The spiritual focus is my own concept of sustainable spiritual practice. It is based on my interpretation of the wheel of the year and the Jewish holidays, as taught by many. The specific focus is for a season, as based on the element have/need system taught by R’Jill Hammer in the The Jewish Book of Days, as referenced above. For example Autumn is the time of Air within Earth, we have Earth we need Air and is the spiritual focus of Community (Air) within Resources (Earth) or more simply: communal resources.
4: While tarot is not intrinsically Jewish, it is a derivative of Kabbalah and a can be a useful tool for self discovery and exploration. Tarot correspondences here follow Kabbalistic tree of life by Issac ben Luria, the Ari, as opposed to some of the more common Christian systems.
5: The soul-traits for each month are based on Kesharim K’doshim Mussar, developed by Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet.
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