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Chodesh Kislev - the Month of Kislev

Chodesh Kislev -

A Month of Darkness Aflame with Hope

Fall/Winter: Chodesh Tet

Rosh Chodesh marks the start of a new month in the Jewish calendar. The sages metaphorically considered the lunar cycle to be a picture of ongoing "sacrifice and restoration." The renewal of the moon (i.e., the first crescent) was regarded as a kind of "rebirth" that issued from the previous service of the month (i.e., the moon's "self-diminution," or waning to complete darkness). 


A Month of Darkness...

On the Biblical calendar the month of Kislev (כִּסְלֵו) is the ninth month of the year (counting from Nisan). The month is therefore one of the "darkest" of the year, with the days progressively getting shorter and the nights getting longer.  Indeed, the Winter Solstice generally occurs during the last week of Kislev, and therefore the week of Chanukah (which straddles the months of Kislev and Tevet) often contains the longest night of the year (and even during "leap years," when the solstice occurs a bit later, there is always a new moon during the season of Chanukah). It is no wonder that, among other things, Chanukah represents an appropriate time to kindle the lights of faith....

In this connection, the Talmud speaks about Adam's celebration of light that occurred during the first Winter Solstice:

    When Adam -- who was created in the beginning of the year, on the first day of Tishri -- noticed that during the first three months of his life, the days were getting gradually shorter, he said, 'Woe is to me! Because I've sinned, the world around me is being darkened and is returning to its state of chaos and confusion; this must be the kind of death which has been sentenced to me from Heaven!' He took upon himself to pray, fast, and look within. After eight days, he noticed the Winter Equinox (i.e., the season beginning with the month of Tevet) and saw that the days were beginning to lengthen again. "So this is the way of the world!" he exclaimed, and he celebrated for eight days.  (Avodah Zarah, 8a)
     


A Month of Dreams...


The month of Kislev is sometimes called the "month of dreams" because the weekly Torah portions for this month contain more dreams than any other. No less than nine dreams appear in the portions of Vayetzei, Vayeshev, and Miketz - which are all read during the month of Kislev. In the Torah, the primary figure connected with dreams is Jacob's son Joseph, who was nicknamed by his brothers as "the master of dreams" and who was later named "Decipherer of Secrets" (Tzofnat Paneach) by Pharaoh (Gen. 41:45). Joseph was able to mediate the spiritual and the physical realms through the Spirit of God within him (Gen. 41:38). Prophetically Joseph represents Yeshua the "disguised Egyptian" who likewise was rejected and hated by his brothers - but who later became their savior (for more on this, see "Mashiach ben Yosef"). 

 


A Month of Hope...

Some of the commentators think the name Kislev comes from a root (כּסל) that means "trust" or "hope." In the Scriptures the root appears in several places, including: "And they placed in God their hope (כִּסְלָם)" (Psalm 78:7); and, "Did I place my hope (כִּסְלִי) in gold?" (Job 31:24). Interestingly, the root can also refer to foolishness, suggesting that the wisdom of God (i.e., His "dream" for saving humanity through Yeshua) often appears as foolishness to men (1 Cor. 3:19). If Yeshua was born during Sukkot (i.e., Tabernacles), then it is likely that He was conceived during Chanukah - perhaps near the Winter Solstice itself. The true light - that enlightens everyone - would shine in the darkest night of this world (John 1:9; 1 John 2:8).

Chodesh Tov to you all, chaverim. Remember that the Divine Light shines like a fire and yet does not destroy or consume. The light of God does not necessarily take away the darkness but always overcomes it and shines within it: "The darkness and the light are both alike unto Thee" (Psalm 139:12; John 1:5). May this month be one of blessing and the Presence of the Divine Light of Yeshua within your hearts (John 8:12).

A Rosh Chodesh Blessing

The following (simplified) blessing can be recited to ask the LORD to help you for the coming new month:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֵיךָ יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ וֵאלהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
שֶׁתְּחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ חדֶשׁ טוֹב בַּאֲדנֵינוּ יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ אָמֵן

ye·hi · ra·tzon · mil·fa·ne·kha · Adonai · E·lo·hei·nu · ve·lo·hei · a·vo·tei·nu
she·te·cha·desh · a·lei·nu · cho·desh · tov · ba'a·do·nei·nu · Ye·shu·a · ha·ma·shi·ach · A·men
 

"May it be Your will, LORD our God and God of our fathers,
that you renew for us a good month in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Amen."



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