Jewish Calendar: Months of the Jewish Year

The Month of Tishrei
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.

Tishrei is the seventh of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.

The month of Tishrei begins the "period" (tekufah) of the autumn (whose three months--Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev--correspond to the three tribes of the camp of Ephraim--Ephraim, Menashe, Benjamin--who were situated to the west).

In the Bible, Tishrei is called yerach ha'etanim, "the month of the strong" or "the month of the ancients." With respect to the reckoning of "years," Tishrei is the first month of the year (before the giving of the Torah to Israel, Tishrei was the universal first month of the year.

Tishrei permutes to reishit, "beginning," as is said [of Divine providence over the land of Israel and the entire world]: "always are the eyes of Havayah your God there, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year").

As the seventh month from Nissan (the month of Jewish redemption and independence), Tishrei is the "dearest" of months, as is said: "All sevens are dear." The word "seven" is cognate to "satiated," and so is the month of Tishrei referred to as "the most satiated of months," for more than any other month of the year it is "full" of mitzvot and holidays.

Tishrei begins the six months of the winter, which correspond to six levels of "reflected light" (in Divine service--"arousal from below"). This is alluded to in the name Tishrei which begins with the three letters tav shin reish, in the "reflected" order of the alef-beit (from end to beginning).

Letter: lamed.

Lamed is the only letter of the alef-beit whose shape ascends above the upper boundary of the letters. This is understood to reflect the great existential longing and aspiration of the lamed to return to its ultimate and absolute source in the essence of God's Infinite Being. This is the experience of the true teshuvah ("return") of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

G-d's infinite light descends and becomes manifest in the two lameds of the lulav on the festival of Sukkot.

Mazal: moznayim (Libra - scale).

The scale symbolizes the Divine judgment of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. All of the deeds of man are weighed in judgment.

Moznayim, from the word oznayim (ears), implies equilibrium and balance (the inner sense of the ears). In Kabbalah, equilibrium is the prerequisite state for marital union, "face to face." This is the spiritual state achieved on the month of Tishrei.

In the 360 degree cycle of the year, Tishrei "faces" Nissan. Tishrei receives and integrates into nature (and its fixed laws) the "redemption" of Israel (the "light" of Nissan). Due to this itself, G-d judges Israel on Tishrei with mercy.

Tribe: Efraim.

Efraim is the son of Joseph, the archetypal soul of the power to procreate in marital union. The name Efraim derives from God's first commandment to Adam on the day of his creation--the first of Tishrei, Rosh HaShanah "be fruitful and multiply," the all-inclusive mitzvah to procreate.

Spiritually, this mitzvah is performed in ongoing stages throughout all the holidays of Tishrei, from Rosh HaShanah to Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (the ten days of repentance correspond to "His left hand is under my head"; the first six days of Sukkot correspond to "His right hand embraces me;" the seventh day of Sukkot, Hosanna Raba, corresponds, in particular, to "He shall kiss me with the kisses of His mouth"; Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah correspond to the actual union itself, which begins the Divine state of "pregnancy" until the Divine birth of new souls of Israel on the seventh day of Pesach, the day of the splitting of the Red Sea to give birth to new souls--new Divine consciousness).

Sense: touch (contact, marriage).

In Hebrew, the word for "touch" is cognate to the word for "marital relations." This is the sense which directly relates to the name Efraim, as explained above.

The sense of touch is the only of the five common and general senses which is not centered in the "face" of man (but rather in the tips of his fingers). The procreative "touch" takes place in an existentially balanced state of "face to face" but "in the dark" (in modesty, tzniut), for its ultimate source is in the "unknowable head" of keter.

Controller: gall.

The "green humor" resides in the gall. It is the source of all sexual arousal, as taught in Kabbalah.

The green humor represents the well-balanced or "blended" state (the state of mizug, cognate to zivug, marital union) between the white humor (which resides in the lungs) and the red humor (which resides in the liver). So is the month of Tishrei, the beginning of the autumn, a "blend" between summer and winter. And so are we taught, that the procreative "touch" (of Tishrei) functions best when "balanced" between hot and cold, most preferably at "midnight," between the two halves of the night etc.

Through the intense spiritual service of Tishrei the green humor of the gall becomes rectified and well-balanced in order to control and permeate all of man's activities (throughout the coming year) with Divine procreative energy.