A Teives Letter to the Women of Nitzotzos from our Mashpia, Rav Burg
Dear Nitzotzos Community,
A gutten Chodesh Teives!
Teiveis is the fourth month of the year (when we count from Tishrei) and includes the end of Chanukah. It is interesting that Chanuka is in both Kisleiv and Teives. This tells us that in some way Teives ought to be the continuation of the service that we started in Kisleiv.
Kisleiv is the most romantic time of the year for us as Jews. In the darkness of winter we found Hashem's eternal light. This is embodied in Chanukah which takes place at the end of Kisleiv. In the last moments of the month, when all hope seem lost, we pull victory from the jaws of defeat and experience the illumination of Chanukah.
Chanukah is something that needs to be taken with us if we are to make it through the harsh winter months. This is why Chanukah extends into Teives. If Chanukah stands alone on its own month, then the romance of Chanukah is fleeting. That Chanukah extends into Teives tells us that the relationship between Klal Yisrael and Hashem is real (that which is real never changes - it only grows) and that carries us through the cold, dark winter.
How do we do this?
As the fourth month, Teives represents Netzach which means perseverance and victory. Though the war is over we must continue to hold our position against potential enemy attacks. On Chanukah we defeated the Greeks and the message of assimilation that they stood for. But can we say that a true "victory" has been achieved? As we look at the world around us we know that we continue to be plagued by many of those same forces of evil that plagued the generation of the Maccabees. They succeeded in fighting off the Greeks in their times but it is a battle that continues until this very day.
Similarly, in our relationship with Hashem, we have Kisleiv experiences and Teives experiences. A Kisleiv experience is where we feel so distant from Hashem that we actually crave his presence. In our darkness we find his light. Having found that light we are exceptionally passionate about the romance of our relationship. It is as if we are a couple who were on the verge of divorce and miraculously found our way back to one another. But what happens afterwards? Will we be able to persevere? Can we achieve a true victory and make the relationship last even when the excitement has once again fallen away? Is it real? If we take the lesson of Kisleiv into Teives then we know that is the cold that makes us seek each other out so we can draw warmth from one another. Our difficult times, our disagreements, arguments and dare I say even our fights, are opportunities to come close to one another. The text of the disagreement may be "How could you do this to me?" The subtext is "I want to be close to you, can't you see that?" Will we persevere and learn to listen to the subtext of our arguments? This is the challenge of Teives.
The Zodiac of Teives is a young goat. In Teives the grass has just begun to sprout and it is soft enough even for a young goat to eat. Having gone through the turmoil of Kisleiv we are "young" again. Our love has been renewed. We are tender and sensitive as in any relationship that has gone through a renewal process but there is sustenance for us to continue to grow. Kisleiv was the apex of the winter. In Teives we can now begin to see growth and focus on warmer times ahead.
May we merit to have the humility necessary to bring netzach into our relationship with Hashem.