22/23, 29/30 December 2023, 11,18 Tevet 5784

Tevet, the Hebrew month that housed just the second half of Chanukah this year, is otherwise empty of festivals and events. It is generally a time for renewal before Shevat brings up Tu B’Shevat and the imaginings of growth and Spring. This year, it is hard to imagine resting and renewing with such grief and concern around us – the suffering, grief and continued torturous wait of families in Israel and the loss and devastation for Palestinians. We rabbis are planning a trip to Israel to be with our colleagues and friends. And there probably needs to be, albeit tempered, a period of quiet before we gear up again.

So I turn to Katherine May’s Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

Plants and animals don’t fight the winter. They don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer. They prepare, they adapt, they perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Wintering is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximising scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight, but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the lifecycle but its crucible.

It’s a time for reflections and recuperation, for slow replenishment, for putting your house in order. Doing these deeply unfashionable things, slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting, is a radical act now, but it is essential. This is a crossroads we all know, a moment when you need to shed a skin. If you do, you will expose all those painful nerve endings and feel so raw that you’ll need to take care of yourself for a while. If you don’t, then that skin will harden around you. It’s one of the most important choices you’ll ever make. 

Wishing you some quiet calm and peacefulness.

Shabbat Shalom Rebecca