The fast of the tenth of Teves marks the beginning of the siege on Jerusalem. All fast days in the Jewish calendar are meant to arouse our hearts and to open the paths to return to God. Let’s try to understand the deeper essence of this day and the type of arousal that is especially suited to this fast.
In Jewish tradition, there are 3 months of the year that are considered “bad months”. These months are destined for struggle, when the Heavenly attribute of Strict Justice is prevalent. Those months are the Jewish months of Tamuz and Av, when we commemorate the destruction of the Temple and the month of Teves, when we commemorate the siege on Jerusalem.
If we take a look at the Mazal, the Zodiac sign, of the month of Teves it is the Gedi, the Goat, also known as Capricorn. Some of the traits associated with the Goat are the evil eye, anger, stubbornness, immaturity and insecurity.
The Goat also reminds us of a very important struggle in the Torah that very much shaped who the Jewish people are as a nation.
At the end of the life of our Patriarch Yitzchak, he calls in Esav and instructs him to hunt for him a tasty dish so that he can bless him. Our matriarch Rivkah gets wind of the idea and instead instructs Yaakov to bring to Isaac some food and steal away the blessings. What specifically is the food that he is instructed to bring: two tasty goats. And when Yaakov is afraid that his blind father might touch him ans discover that he is an imposter, Rivka disguises Yaakov as Esav by putting on his arms the skins of, you guessed it, goats.
One can say, therefore, that there are in fact two Torah personalities that are represented by the goat. The first is Esav who was obviously “goat-like” both in personality and in skin texture. And the second is Yaakov disguised as Esav.
It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word Gedi has the numerical value of 17, which is also equal to the word tov, good. And in fact the word Teves contains the main letters that make up the word Tov. Taking all this into consideration, we clearly see a theme immerge. The month of Teves is a month of good concealed in bad.
Teves is followed by Shevat, a month that celebrates the beginning of the blossoming of the trees that seem to undergo a resurrection from the dead, and then Adar, the month that celebrates the transformation of death into life. All that transformation begins in Teves.
Teves is the month to transform the Evil eye and start looking at people in a positive light. The month to channel our anger towards the things in life that hold us back from being great. The month to channel our stubbornness into a refusal to adapt our morals and values to the pressure of society. And to use our immaturity and insecurity to increase our dialogue with God and realize how much we need Him in our lives.
In spiritual growth we often need to hit rough waters before we emerge as greater people. The month of Teves is just that.
May we all have in mind this year, as we fast on the 10th of Teves, that we should discover the hidden good in all of the pain in our life, and that we should soon see the day when all sadness is transformed into good.