This week at Azamra
5 Shevat 5781 / 18 January 2021

Torah Calendar

19 Tevet-3 Shevat, 5781
January 3-16, 2021

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Attributes of the month of TEVET: Ruling permutation of the letters of HAVAYAH: KEH YOD KEH VAV, contained in the final Hebrew letters of the words of the verse [Gadlu] laYHVH eetY uneromemaH shemO , "[magnify] HaShem with me, and let us exalt His name ..." (Psalms 34:4). The month's corresponding letter is: AYIN; Human attribute: ANGER; Body Part: LIVER; Tribe: DAN; Constellation: GEDI (Capricorn, the Goat).

Sunday January 3 / 19 Tevet
SHOVAVIM

Today is the first day of the period of SHOVAVIM named after the initial letters of the parshiyot of the coming 6 Shabbatot -- Shemot, Va-eira, Bo, Beshallach, Yitro and Mishpatim. The name also refers to Jeremiah 3:14, "Repent, O backsliding (shovavim) children", and is also alluded to in the initial Hebrew letters of the opening words of this week's parshah, "And these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt" (Exodus 1:1): "Ve-eleh Shemot Bney Yisrael haBa'im Mitzrayimah".

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the "ARI", taught that this six week period (especially each Shabbat) is particularly propitious for rectifying the blemishes of the soul, especially in the realm of Yesod (the "foundation", i.e. sexual purity), as well as for prayers to rectify our personality traits, to sanctify our vision, hearing and other faculties, and guard against anger, pride and depression.

Since the whole Shovavim period lasts six weeks=42 days, it is good to add to one's Torah study "and speak about them" (i.e. about the commandments, Deut. 6:7), ve-dibarta BaM: the numerical value of Beit-Mem is 42. During the Shovavim period, some have the custom of abstaining from all animal-derived foods every Thursday (and in some cases, every Monday as well) except at a circumcision or other mitzva feast.

Sunday night-Monday January 3-4 / 20 Tevet

Today is the yahrzeit of "the great eagle", Rabbenu Moshe ben Maimon, the Rambam -- Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), the world-renowned codifier of Torah law, philosopher, doctor and healer.

Monday night-Tuesday January 4-5 / 21 Tevet

Today is the yahrzeit of Shimon son of Jacob and Leah.

Thursday night-Friday January 7-8 / 24 Tevet

Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), founder of the Chabad chassidic movement and author of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav halachic code and the chassidic classic Tanya, after which he is known as the Baal HaTanya.
Today is also the yahrzeit of Rabbi Naftali Katz (1649-1717), chief rabbi of Posen and author of Semichat Chachamim on the reinstitution of the Sanhedrin, and of Rabbi Eliahu Eliezer ben Reuven Dov Dessler (1897-1953), dean of Ponovitch Yeshiva and author of Michtav MeEliyahu.

Friday night-Saturday January 8-9 / 25 Tevet
Shabbat Parshat SHEMOT
Shabbat Mevarchim, Blessing the Coming Month

Torah Reading: Exodus 1:1-6:1; Haftara: Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23 (Sephardi ritual: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3). As we embark on the story of the Exodus from Egypt, it is proper to study the weekly parshahs that speak about this with special attention in preparation for retelling the story on the Seder night on the coming festival of Pesach, less than 3 months away.

After the Shabbat morning Torah reading, we bless the coming month of Shevat. The molad (junction of the sun and the moon) will be on Wednesday January 13 at 5:35 and 3 chalakim p.m. Rosh Chodesh is on Thursday January 14.

Sunday January 10 / 26 Tevet

Today begins the second week of the SHOVAVIM period, named after the initial letters of the parshiyot of the Shabbatot of Shemot, Va-eira, Bo, Beshallach, Yitro and Mishpatim. The name also refers to Jeremiah 3:14, "Repent, O backsliding (shovavim) children". Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the "ARI", taught that this period (especially each Shabbat) is particularly propitious for rectifying the blemishes of the soul, especially in the realm of Yesod (the "foundation", i.e. moral purity), as well as for prayers to rectify our personality traits, to sanctify our vision and hearing etc. and guard against anger, pride and depression. It is good to add to one's Torah study, "and speak about them" (i.e. about the commandments, Deut. 6:7). During the Shovavim period, some have the custom of abstaining from all animal-derived foods every Thursday (and in some cases, every Monday as well) except at a circumcision or other mitzva feast.

Wednesday January 13 / 29 Tevet
Yom Kippur Katan

Today is observed as Yom Kippur Katan, a "small Day of Atonement" -- a day for introspection and repentance in preparation for the coming Rosh Chodesh (New Moon). Some fast from dawn to nightfall and recite a special service.

Shevat is the eleventh month of Jewish year. Corresponding permutation of the Tetragrammaton: HYVH deriving from the initial Hebrew letters of Leviticus 27:33, Homer Yemirenu Vehayah Hu, "…if he shall surely change it, then it shall be…" Corresponding letter of Aleph-Beis: Tzadi; Constellation: D'li (Aquarius, the Water Carrier); Body part: Korkevan=Stomach (Sefer Yetzirah).

"Even though Israel has no MAZAL (constellation),
D'LI is Israel's Mazal!"

Wednesday night-Thursday January 13-14 / 1 Shevat
Rosh Chodesh SHEVAT

Add Ya'aleh Veyavo for Rosh Chodesh in evening, morning and afternoon prayers and in Grace after Meals. Following the morning Shacharit prayer, "half" Hallel is recited. Torah Reading for Rosh Chodesh: Numbers 28:9-15; After the Torah reading we recite the additional Musaf prayer for Rosh Chodesh. It is appropriate to mark Rosh Chodesh with a festive meal.

The first day of Shevat is when Moses began his final discourses in Deuteronomy: "And in the fortieth year in the eleventh month on the first of the month Moses spoke to the children of Israel" (Deut. 1:3). The month of Shevat is therefore propitious for Torah study and understanding as signified by the sign of D'LI, a "bucket" pouring the waters of inspiration into the world.

According to the opinion of Beit Shammai, 1 Shevat is New Year of the Trees, although in practice we follow the opinion of Beit Hillel that this is observed on Tu BiShvat, 15 Shevat (Rosh Hashanah 2a). Start planning now for Tu Bishvat, which will be on Wednesday night-Thursday 27-28 January!

"During the month of Shevat more than all of the rest of the year, one should strive to love peace and pursue peace between each person and his fellow and between each man and his wife"
(Mo-ed LeKol Chai)

Friday January 15 / 2 Shevat

On this day, some have the custom of observing Ta'anit Dibbur, a "fast from speaking", reading the book of Psalms and additional supplications.
Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Meshulam Zusya of Hanipoli (1718-1800), outstanding chassidic Tzaddik and student of the Maggid of Mezritch.

"On the day of reckoning, when they ask me, 'Why weren't you like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?' I won't be afraid. But when they ask me, 'Why weren't you like Zusya ?' - that's when I'll be afraid." - Reb Zusya

Friday night-Saturday January 15-16 / 3 Shevat
Shabbat Parshat VA-EIRA

Torah Reading: Va-eira, Exodus 6:2-9:35; Haftara: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21.


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