Onot • עונות
Tree Through Seasons, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, JHD

The blossoms and buds of spring, the hot sun and cool water of summer, the colors of autumn and the chill of winter: each season has its treasures to offer.

The seasons and cycles of the year point to larger seasons and cycles in our lives. The Bible (Tanach) and the wisdom of our Sages emphasize timeliness, “a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Learning to live with wisdom is also learning to value and honor the seasons of our lives, the seasons of our relationships.

Seasons have a new and urgent significance today. The Bible describes unseasonable weather, such as rain or drought out of season, as a sign of divine displeasure with human sin. For modern people such notions once seemed naive. Now, in this age of Climate Change, they have new relevance, as we yearn to preserve the natural seasonal rhythms of God’s earth.

עֹ֖ד כָּל־יְמֵ֣י הָאָ֑רֶץ זֶ֡רַע וְ֠קָצִיר וְקֹ֨ר וָחֹ֜ם וְקַ֧יִץ וָחֹ֛רֶף וְי֥וֹם וָלַ֖יְלָה לֹ֥א יִשְׁבֹּֽתוּ׃

So long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.

Genesis 8:22


Go round this Gateway of Seasons to discover the rhythms and textures of the changing seasons, in Jewish tradition and in your life.



First snow of the season, JHD
Springs defies the snow, JHD

A Time to Every Purpose

אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יְהִ֤י מְאֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהַבְדִּ֕יל בֵּ֥ין הַיּ֖וֹם וּבֵ֣ין הַלָּ֑יְלָה וְהָי֤וּ לְאֹתֹת֙ וּלְמ֣וֹעֲדִ֔ים וּלְיָמִ֖ים וְשָׁנִֽים׃

God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate between day and night; and they will serve as signs and seasons, for the days and years.

Genesis 1:14

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Living in the Season

Seasons are very different in each of the places I have lived. In South Texas, a short spring quickly stretches into a long, hot, heavy summer, followed by a pleasant fall and mild winter. read more…

Stick Season

By Rachel Barenblat, The Velveteen Rabbi 

I used to own a long, soft, narrow-wale corduroy dress that always seemed to call to me around this time of year. Its colors were muted: taupe and pale purple and deep fir-green. One day I realized that it matched the Berkshire hills in their November colors: the taupe brown of bare trees seen from a distance, the muted purple of distant hillsides at early twilight, the deep green of conifers on the highest parts of the hills.

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The Reason for the Season

by Rabbi David Zaslow

There is an organic flow between all of the Jewish holidays that mirrors the cycles in nature. In the Creation story, we learn that “there was evening and there was morning, the first day” (Gen. 1:5). Jews continue to mark the beginning of the day at sunset—evening—and not at midnight as most of the world does.
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Seasons of Life

In addition to affirming the goodness of seasonal rhythms, the Bible also affirms the seasonal rhythms of human life, as in the well known section of Kohelet / Ecclesiastes:

There is a season for everything, and a time for every desired purpose under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3          לַכֹּ֖ל זְמָ֑ן וְעֵ֥ת לְכָל־חֵ֖פֶץ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃

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Seasons in the Era of Climate Change

by Stephen Jurovics, Ph.D.

Each of the seasons of the year can evoke, for many of us, an image of what we most enjoy about that period. It may be the sequence of warm spring days with clear blue skies during which the outside world exerts a strong pull and diminishes our commitment to work or study, that period we call “spring fever.”

For others, it’s the summer days of sunshine and high temperatures when many leave work to vacation at the beach and enjoy the water, sand, and sunshine.

The familiar images and anticipated enjoyment are inexorably moving towards the remembered and unpredictable. Climate change is transforming everything, including our experiences of the seasons, and those changes will challenge our physical, visual, and emotional lives.

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