Jewish Calendar: Months of the Jewish Year

The Month of Sivan
According to Sefer Yetzirah

According to Sefer Yetzirah, each month of the Jewish year has a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, a zodiac sign, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, a sense, and a controlling limb of the body that correspond to it.

Sivan is the third of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar. The month of the giving of the Torah to Israel.

Letter: zayin.

Although Sivan is the third month of the year--"blessed be the Merciful-One [G-d's attribute of mercy is the third of the Divine attributes; in the order of the eleven sefirot, it is the seventh] who gave a threefold Torah [Torah, Neviem, and Ketuvim] to a threefold people [Kohanim, Leviim and Yisraelim] in the third month [Sivan] by three [Moses, Aaron, and Miriam]"--he number that most prominently appears throughout the Torah is the number seven, the value of the letter zayin.

The Torah was given on Shabbat, the seventh day of the week. According to Rabbi Yosi, the Torah was given on the seventh day of Sivan. Zivebulun, the tribe of Sivan, begins with the letter zayin.

Our sages identify the zayin with the word zeh ("this"), signifying the unique level of prophesy of Moses ("the transparent pane"), the giver of the Torah (who himself was born and passed away on the seventh of Adar [the 12th month of the year; 12 = zeh]).

The Torah-portions of the month of Sivan are from the beginning of the Book of Numbers. In the third portion--Beha'alotcha--there appears a section of two verses ("And when the ark traveled...") which is separated from the Torah text that precedes it and that follows it (by two "upside-down nuns"). Our sages teach us that this is order to divide the Torah into seven books, instead of the normal division of five. This phenomenon is alluded to in the verse: "She carved her pillars seven." Together, zayin (7) and hei (5, the normal division of the Torah) spell zeh, the unique level of the prophesy of Moses.

The shape of the letter zayin is a vav with a crown on its head. This represents the crown that every Jewish soul received (which, in particular, consists of two levels, two crowns, as taught by our sages) upon the giving of the Torah. The Ten Commandments themselves contain 620 letters = keter, "crown."

Mazal: teomim (Gemini--twins).

The twins symbolize the two identical "tablets of the covenant" given to Moses.

The giving of the Torah to Israel is referred to as a "wedding" (between G-d and Israel). In the Song of Songs (5:2), the highest level of marriage is referred to as bride and groom being identical twins (tamati, which our sages read teomati).

The archetypal twins of the Torah are the two brothers, Jacob and Esau. These twins are not only non-identical but even opposites. Nonetheless, by the power of the giving of the Torah on the month of Sivan, both of the twins are rectified and become able to unite. In every Jew, Jacob represents the good inclination, while Esau represents the evil inclination. We are commanded to love G-d "with all of your heart"--"with both of your inclinations." In the two tablets of the covenant, the right tablet addresses primarily the side of Jacob while the left tablet addresses primarily the side of Esau ("Thou shall not murder; Thou shall not commit adultery; Thou shall not steal.?"

Tribe: Zivebulun.

Zivebulun is commonly pictured as the "business man," who supports the Torah study of his brother Isaachar. In Kabbalah we are taught that there is always something higher inherent in a "cause" than in its "result." In accordance with this principle, the Arizal explains that the origin of the soul of Zivebulun is in keter, above that of the soul of Isaachar, in chochmah.

The level of the Torah itself first revealed to us at Sinai is the level of the keter ("crown") of the Torah, as indicated by the fact that the Ten Commandments possess 620 letters = keter (corresponding to the 613 mitzvot of the written Torah together with the 7 mitzvot of the sages), as mentioned above. Zivebulun himself is commanded to study Torah. His study of the Torah is at the level of keter.

Sense: walking (progress, dynamic).

Here, "walking" means the sense of continuous, ongoing progress. Each law of the Torah is called a halacha, from the word "to walk." Our sages interpret the verse: "the walkings of the world are to Him" (Habakuk 6:4), that he who studies halacha daily will surely merit the world to come.

The Torah gives us the power to walk ahead, to leave our initial premises in order to find and elevate fallen Divine sparks present throughout reality. And so is said of Zivebulun: "be happy Zivebulun when you go out" (Deuteronomy 33:18).

While the angels, who did not merit to receive the Torah, are called "standers" (for they do not possess the essential life dynamic) the souls of Israel (who received the Torah) are called "walkers amongst the standers."

With regard to the "strength" of the Torah in general it is said: "they [the souls of Israel that study the Torah and perform its commandments] shall proceed from strength to strength" (Psalms 84:8). Our sages interpret this to mean that "the righteous have no rest, neither in this world nor in the world to come." In Chassidut it is taught that in the absolute state of rest and tranquillity of the world to come the soul of the righteous-one experiences simultaneously the sense of "infinite progress" and "walking ahead" (the sense of tranquillity is the sense of the month of Kislev [the third month from Tishrei], the month that complements Sivan [the third month from Nissan] in the cycle of the year).

Controller: left foot.

With regard to any pair of "right" and "left," the "right" is relatively "spiritual" while the "left" is relatively "physical." In the words of our sages: "He stretched out His right hand and created the heavens and stretched out His left hand and created the earth."

As we saw above, speech, the sense of Nissan, is controlled by the right foot. Walking, the sense of Sivan, is controlled by the left foot. Speech resembles walking, as we find often in the Bible the idiom of the "walking tongue." Nonetheless, speech is relatively more spiritual than walking (though both possess an inner spiritual dimension: speech--the sense of leadership; walking--the sense of progress).

We find in Proverbs (10:9) "he who walks with sincerity shall walk with security." Sincerity (temimut) is the property of the left foot (the sefirah of hod); security (bitachon) is the property of the right foot (the sefirah of netzach; confidence gives one the ability to speak clearly without "stuttering" [which in the mouth corresponds to "stumbling" in the feet]). Thus the verse implies that one should walk "left, right...," for it is the left foot that governs the general act of walking.