The Month of Tevet
Seasons of the Moon The Philistines are the nation associated with the sign of the goat (g'dee).

As the Books of Yehoshua and Shoftim remind us, the Philistines were always a thorn in the side of the Jewish People. When Israel forgot the One who protects them, they were delivered into the hands of the Philistines. Samson gave his Philistine wife a goat as a gift, symbolically attempting to purify the negative influence of the Philistine.

Even though Tevet has always seen events that bespoke hardship and evil for the People of Israel (e.g., the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem on the Tenth of Tevet), nevertheless the planet that influences Tevet - Shabbtai (Saturn) - symbolizes the power of contemplation.

When we gaze out at the sea, our thoughts become tranquil. Looking across a desert plain, heat shimmering off silver sand, we feel centered. When we lift our eyes to the hills, calmness descends upon us.

Why do we feel calm when we look into the distance?

We spend most of our lives focusing our eyes on our immediate vicinity. A book. A computer screen. Someone's face.

When we look at a close object, ocular muscles bring our eyes slightly inward toward the nose. The eye's crystalline lens thickens to focus the image on the retina. The closer the object, the thicker the lens and the more the eyes converge. This strains the eye muscles and they tire just like any muscle in the body.

When you relax these muscles, your mind relaxes as well. When you focus on "infinity," on the limit of your range of focus, the muscles in the eye relax and the mind relaxes with them.

This world is but a reflection of a spiritual reality.

Imagine you are stuck in traffic on the beltway. Staring at the back of an unmoving car, you focus on the frustration of two miles of unmoving metal.

Then, you notice the bumper sticker on the car in front of you: "Hang in there. Shabbat is coming!" Suddenly, you focus on infinity. You let your spiritual eyes lift you above the week, above life's traffic jam. You look forward to Shabbat.

The letter of the month of Tevet is ayin, which means eye. The body part corresponding to the month of Tevet is the right eye. Tevet's planet is Saturn, or as it is called in Hebrew Shabbtai. Shabbtai, as its name suggests, is connected to Shabbat.

On Shabbat, we alter our focus. We lift our eyes above life's traffic jam. Just as we relax when we gaze into the distance, so too when we focus on the dimension called Shabbat - when we look to that world of total Shabbat, the World-to-Come - we feel our souls relaxing, basking in the glow of closeness to the Creator that only this special day can give us.

Shabbat tells us to lift our eyes. To allow them to relax and gaze on infinity. Shabbat gives us a chance to see Who created all this. That's called living on Planet Shabbat.

More articles available at Ohr Somayach's website.