Welcome to the month of Tevet!

According to Kabbalah, every month offers unique spiritual opportunities and blessings. Just as there are fluctuations in the weather, so, too, are there changes in spiritual energies. Being attuned to these energies helps us use this knowledge for our personal growth and success.

This month of Tevet—the coldest month and the darkest month—is also a time of great light, transformation and redemption. The light of Tevet is, however, hidden in the darkness. Because G‑d’s light is so powerful, it needs to be concealed in darkness. The Hebrew letter for Tevet is tet, which is also the first letter of tov, which means “good.”

Seeing the Good During This Month

The Hebrew letter ayin (“eye”) is associated with this month.

The ability to see the good in every person and in everything that happens is a worthy goal for this month, as well as one that will offer protection. Jealousy—the root of so much suffering and anger—comes from the incorrect perception that someone can have something that is meant for you. It’s not possible! We can only have what we have the vessels to receive.

Before we cast judgement on ourselves or others, we need to be aware that our eyes may deceive us and what we see may not actually be true. Remember, oftentimes the reason the qualities of a person bother us so much is that they mirror something within ourselves that needs healing. When we judge others in a negative light, too often we are simply projecting our own negative qualities onto them. Projection is a defense mechanism used to protect ourselves from the experience of our own vulnerability.

Feelings of jealousy and anger are indicators of a need for greater connection with ourselves and G‑d. The inner work of Tevet asks us to be grateful for what we have—to take responsibility for what shows up in our lives, and work on forgiving and opening our hearts. Our freedom lies in moving from being reactive to being able to make conscious, heart-centered responses in the face of challenge. The inward tone of this month invites us to see reality closer to as it is. Though this process may be painful and disillusioning, it actually strengthens us. Through this kind of introspection, we touch the essence of truth, which in itself brings an inner joy and goodness.

Shining the Light of Love and Healing

This month, we have an amazing opportunity to heal the anger we carry inside. It may not be an easy process, but working through it will yield greater well-being, freedom and joy in our lives. We must begin with the awareness of how we limit ourselves through our anger. Awareness is the first step. It doesn’t matter if the anger is directed at ourselves or towards other people. Blaming oneself or others is simply disempowering.

On the first days of Tevet, when we are still lighting Chanukah candles, we must consciously shine the light into those places within us that call out for healing, light and love. The last days of Chanukah offer us the most healing and transformational blessing of teshuvah. This word means “to return”—to return to who we really are, to the experience of our true, most glorious, beautiful souls that shine so brightly within our bodies, like the Chanukah lights.

Just as the Maccabeans searched for a pure vial of oil to rededicate the Holy Temple, during the remaining few nights of Chanukah when we gaze at the candles, we must quiet the mind, and search our heart and soul for that part within ourselves that is pure and unaffected by what is happening externally. That is the light of our own soul. The soul within us is a part of G‑d; it cannot be contaminated. On Chanukah, we restore our access to our inner light. Our soul is G‑d’s candle in the world. Sit with the visualization of being G‑d’s candle.

Cultivating Patience and Forgiveness

The challenge and opportunity this month is to cultivate patience and practice forgiveness, and to remember that nothing happens by accident. There is goodness within each challenge. Everything that happens to us—what appears as good and what may feel as not so good—is designed to take us forward in our lives. Let go of the need to be right, and attempt to see everything and everyone in the best light. We will know how we are progressing spiritually by observing our anger level.

Being stuck in anger has so many negative consequences. It renders us victims who are powerless and unable to go forward in our lives. When we are angry, we are slaves to our emotions. We are out of control. We lose contact with our own souls when we blame other people or events for our own unhappiness. That is why during this month, the Torah portions we read are all about slavery.

Long before the holistic movement made the connection between the mind and the body, Kabbalah said that anger was the root cause of illness because it actually disconnects us from G‑d’s energy and from who we really are. If we want to heal ourselves from illness, we have to heal and transform the anger we feel inside. Joy and love are powerful healing forces in life that we need to nourish.

Strategies to Defeat Anger

If you find yourself becoming angry this month, here are a few suggestions.

  • Make an effort to calm yourself, and not speak or act impulsively.
  • Train yourself to take deep breaths and visualize the release of tension through breathing.
  • Make a habit of speaking in a soft and gentle voice, so when you’re angry, you will not raise your voice too much.
  • Give yourself time to look at the situation differently before responding. Try to be detached and objective, as if it were happening to someone else. Imagine yourself on a mountain top looking down from that vantage point.
  • Assume responsibility for your feelings, making I statements, such as “I feel this __ when you do___.” Do not blame the other person for your feelings. It is ultimately your choice whether to be hurt or angry.
  • Raise your vibration by doing something nurturing or enjoyable. Create safe venues to process, feel and release anger. Give yourself time to feel, rather than avoid or deny your angry feelings. Yet feeling one’s angry feelings is quite different than acting upon them and dumping them on another person. A person will often find that underneath the anger they feel is hurt, and a call for greater love and acceptance. Love yourself unconditionally!
  • Appreciate the growth opportunity that anger offered you, and you will be able to truly heal yourself. After that, if it’s necessary, you may be able to express yourself to the actual person who has hurt you in a way that invites healing and reconciliation, rather than defensiveness and hostility. It’s possible to stand up for oneself and assert one’s truth without being angry, defensive or making another wrong for their truth.

In the course of this month, remind yourself that the challenge in front of you is an opportunity to change, heal and expand yourself in the way that your soul wants to take you forward. Take time to meditate and speak to G‑d about your hurt and anger, and ask how you can heal and better respond to people in a more loving and positive way.

This month is actually a time of great light, for the greatest light is hidden in darkness. What we see is reflected back to us. If we see the good, the good is reflected back. If we see the negative, the negative is reflected back. So let’s try to see the good in others and in ourselves.