We are currently in the Hebrew month of Tevet and the Gregorian month of January. Tevet began at the new moon in December and will end at the new moon in January. The lights of the last days of Chanukah are the brightest spot during Tevet, with the long, dark nights of winter making up the remainder of the month. Aside from those waning days of the Festival of Lights, there are no holidays during Tevet.
Tevet is a month of spiritual darkness as well. The fast day, Asara B’Tevet (10th of Tevet), commemorates the beginning of the Babylonian exile when Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem during the First Temple period. This was the beginning of an exile that still continues today despite the fact of the Second Temple period. Just like today, not all Jews live there and call it home.
This month also marks the finality of the Septuagint- the translation of Torah into Greek ordered by Ptolemy. This 70-man translation was completed on the 8th of Tevet. We might ask why translating a holy book into a common language is a bad thing. As with everything else in life, the issue lies with intent. There would have been no problem had Ptolemy’s intention been to provide a translation so that more people could learn from the Holy Book. Instead, the sole purpose was to treat Jewish scripture as any other book- instead of elevating humanity to the scripture, he wanted to lower scripture to humanity. It doesn’t matter what scripture, if any, you follow. All scripture exists to bring humans to a loftier purpose far beyond our mere capacities.
It’s all about change. Tevet marks a month of change. Change, however, doesn’t have to be bad. It can be, as we see from the 8th and 10th of Tevet. It’s also a catalyst for good. Tevet coincides with January which is a time of change. Many people use this time of the new year to make positive changes in their lives. The month is one of darkness, but we can transform that darkness into light. We can be aware of how change can create turmoil, but we can take that turmoil and chaos and transmute it for our good.