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Bringing in the Month of Tevet

Photo of Mount Hermon by Yehoshua Halevi. “In the extreme northeast [of Israel], Mount Hermon with its 2,814-meter peak is the country’s highest point. It served as the northern boundary of the Promised Land (Deut. 3:8) and is called in today’s Israel “the eyes of the nation.” This is because its heights make it a strategic early warning system against always possible unpleasant surprises from the Jewish state’s northern neighbors.” Angelo Colorni’s “Israel for Beginners.”

Mount Hermon [Photo: Yehoshua Halevi]

The new month of Tevet might slip by unnoticed, falling as it does towards the end of the holiday of Hanukkah. It should not be forgotten, however. The month signifies the potential which is hidden in the winter.

The name of the month, Tevet, comes from the same root as the Hebrew word Tov, meaning “good”. It falls out during the winter, a time when the earth is preparing for the blossoming and regeneration of the spring. It is the the fourth month of the Jewish year.

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The tenth day of Tevet is a fast day, commemorating the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem which resulted in the Temple’s eventual destruction in the eleventh month, Av. The purpose of fasting is to show contrition, and Jews pray to God that He forgive the nation as a whole and rebuild the Temple.

Other historical events which took place during the month of Tevet include Esther being brought to King Ahasuerus’s court in the time of the Purim story, the deaths of both Maimonides and the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, the expulsion of the Jews from Portugal in 1496, and the printing of the first volume of the Babylonian Talmud. The first synagogue in New York was also built in Tevet of 1728, by Jews who fled from Spain and Portugal.

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