The New Moon of Cancer is an interesting time for anyone who likes dichotomies and ironies. It is known as one of the negative months, rooted in din (the Hebrew word for law or judgment). But as Rav Berg taught, it is sometimes the experience of judgment that allows you to transform that negativity into mercy and positivity.
I’ve been reading over my past writings on Cancer and thinking of the worst form of judgment which I still believe is self-judgment: that we are not enough and that we cannot accomplish wonders. It’s an illusion rooted in feelings, which are typically at the forefront of any conversation about Cancer. We feel our way through the emotions of this New Moon. Blessing, meet curse.
Feelings and emotions help us derive meaning and purpose in our lives because we are built to be tellers and receivers of stories. Whether you believe in a divine Author or chance evolution, we have survived millennia and flourished because we can tell stories, suss out the morals, and apply them to our lives. But occasionally, that muscle is too well developed. Let me give an example.
A friend of mine converted to Judaism more than two decades ago. The Rabbi who oversaw his conversion warned him of the Beth din – literally the “House of Judgment” – wherein a council of three elder rabbis would grill him on his knowledge of Torah, of Jewish customs, and his intentions for joining the Tribe. As the day approached, he became more uneasy. He knew more commandments than many kohanim; the priestly tribe descended from Aaron. He could recite the necessary prayers and had a pat answer for why he wanted to convert to Judaism. He was intellectually ready for whatever the House of Judgment could throw at him. But he felt inferior. He had told himself this story and engaged, no, overcharged, his feelings of mediocrity. He believed that no one could possibly want him as much as he wanted to be accepted. He had an illusion of himself as less-than.
The day of the Beth din came. He shuffled into the chamber and faced the three old, wise men. They asked him why he wanted to convert. He mumbled his pat answer. They asked him his favorite Holy Day. He swears he answered Purim because his mind blanked. The rabbis looked at each other, shrugged, and accepted him into Judaism. My friend blinked in a way he would later describe as stupid. After a moment of deafening silence, one of the rabbis joked that he was tall and it would be good to have some height in the group. It wasn’t until halfway through his mikvah that my friend stopped laughing at the feeling of being drafted for a JewISH basketball team and realized that so much of the negativity and fear that had preceded that day was borne out of the story he had told himself that he wasn’t enough.
Cancer is a good opportunity for us to pause and remind ourselves that feelings are confusing enough as they are without us clouding them with beliefs. You can feel angry. You can feel happy or ecstatic. You can even feel hungry. But when you start saying and thinking things like “I feel that I should…” or “I feel I am…,” you are veering into the realm of opinion and assertion and out of the point of this month: the focus on actual feels, as my millennial friends would say.
Cancerians are an emotional group, and I love them for that. We can all learn a thing or two from the shells they build around their sensitive underbellies. And we can learn more from the sensitivities themselves. Emotions are data. So this month, I encourage you to scientifically extract the data of your emotions from the false narratives and opinions you’ve built up around yourself. The biggest illusion that emotion-based stories manifest is the illusion we have of ourselves. Even on our best day, the day we are not facing a House of Judgment, what we believe we are capable of and where our strength lies is a fraction of what’s possible.
The hardest and most important thing you can do on this New Moon is to transform your negative thoughts and false beliefs into truth. Tap into the truth of who you are and not the outdated, outgrown feelings of who you are.
It’s the baby and the pacifier parable. If you’re a parent, you have no doubt dealt with a child who believed that they could not survive without their binky. You, as a grown, cognizant, mature, completely together adult, know that the child isn’t going to crumble without their pacifier, and their emerging teeth will be all the better for its absence. I vividly remember the “pacifier going bye-bye now” parties I held for both of my daughters and have watched fellow mothers go so far as to tie their children’s pacis to balloons to bid farewell. (Not great for the environment.)
We see our children not only as their creators but through the eyes of our Creator. We realize they are stronger than they can imagine and so we see no true pain and sadness when we take something as simple as a binky away. Would that we could see ourselves with the same eyes of kindness and faith. Would that we could treat the removal of obstacles in our own lives with the same joy, determination, and understanding.
The next time you feel something negative about yourself, challenge it. Investigate it. Use the din/judgment inherent in this month to judge your feelings instead of yourself and unlock the ability to grow and believe in your destiny. Utilize the power of Cancer to set yourself up in the next week, month, and year to break into a new level of worth.