This Is Your Wake Up Call - Rosh Chodesh Kislev
Each month according to Judaism has its very own unique energy within it. There is no month that is the same just as much there is no season that is the same. After the moments of darkness experienced in Cheshvan, we are now in the month of Kislev, the month of dreams and miracles. Kislev corresponds to November and December on the Gregorian calendar. Rosh Chodesh is a mini holiday at the beginning of the month in the Hebrew calendar. To bring things into a full picture, in the previous month of Mar-Cheshvan (bitter) or Ram-Cheshvan (merciful), Cheshvan was without a doubt, a very challenging month for some, including me. One morning I woke up to my partner asking me if I had made a mess in the living room and in utter shock, our hearts dropped as we understood our home was robbed. Our personal items such as our laptops, cellphones, electronics, wallets, jewelry, and bags were gone. We were devastated. We walked outside and asked a woman on the street to borrow her phone and called the police. During our wait for the police, we recalibrated. We looked at our home and felt immense gratitude for our safety for we were unharmed.
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It took inner koach (strength) to feel and to know Hashem was with us in every way. We teamed up and took the day minute by minute. We saw light in the darkness. Transforming the bitterness of Cheshvan into a month of mercy. Click here to read about Cheshvan. Coming out of Cheshvan and into Kislev is a transition from darkness into light. The first flood that destroyed the world in Parshat Noah happened in Cheshvan while the rainbow that signifies the covenant of Hashem and His people, happened in Kislev.
To understand Kislev is to know the power of light over darkness.
One may notice shifts in weather and the amount of light during the day. The decrease in the amount of light that is occurring in nature during this season is a reflection of one’s spiritual life and vise versa. Less light and more darkness are not only experienced in nature but are also in a person. For example, when there is less light, people experience seasonal affective disorder, feeling depressed and gloomy.
The Energy of Kislev
According to Kabbalah, each month is a transition into new energy. During Kislev, we have the ability to absorb the energy of being in a dream-like state, practice unwavering faith, and rekindle our internal flame. After the busy summer in Tishrei, then the darkness of Cheshvan, Kislev is a gift to pause, reflect, and revise our life. It is recommended to plunge into your heart space and ask yourself, are my thoughts and actions aligned? Am I living my ideal life, if not, how can I change it? What do I want to do more of? Which seeds can I start nourishing in my garden?
On Rosh Hashana, we restart the year, in Cheshvan, we work on our faith, in Kislev, we are called inwards to remind ourselves of our personal dreams. This is a gift. Every person has a dream they either forgot or haven’t thought about and rarely do people live their dreams. Most adults disregard their dream because of life’s circumstances, limiting beliefs, and fear. In a society that supports 9-5 jobs, it is no surprise more people are lost between the cracks trying to know who they are and doing what they love.
The theme of this month is dreaming and Kislev has a special wake-up call from the mundane life. Kislev invites you to slow down and stay home, it is only natural to go to sleep and dream. Nights are longer, days are shorter and the healing energy of sleep can do you well when balanced.
We can learn from the weekly Torah portion that’s read in Kislev, Vayetze just how much sleep and dreaming relate to Kislev and our place within the story as well. In parshat Vayetze in Bereshit, Yakov (Jacob) dreams about angels traveling up and down a ladder. Jacob leaves his hometown of Beersheba and journeys to Charan. Along the way, Yakov stops to sleep, dreaming of a ladder connecting heaven and earth, with angels climbing and descending on it; God appears and promises that the land upon which he lies will be given to his descendants.
In this brief passage, one of the many things we can learn is the connection between our world and the upper worlds. In the dream, Hashem appears before Yakov and makes a promise, just like our forefathers, Hashem is still with us and fulfilling this promise.
Beyond the physical desire for sleep, there is a spiritual unseen wisdom to be learned during this time, and that is the sleep most of us are in during the day. The sleep of living life without noticing the spiritual reality and the hidden energies and miracles that occur to each and every one of us every day. The more you notice the miracles, the more you are able to attract more because you are waking up your spiritual senses to see the unseen and learning to view the world in its true divine light. By noticing the unseen wonder in your life, even in the simplicity of things, the higher your ability to enjoy this month increases.
Kislev reveals the true strength of light over darkness, good over evil. In Kislev, we also celebrate Chanukah, which is all about bringing light to dark moments and rejoicing in miracles. Combining the themes of illumination and vision, our spiritual teachers say Kislev is an auspicious month to meditate on life’s purpose, move past our own limiting beliefs, and receive guidance--perhaps in our dreams--about how to live fully.
Meaning of Kislev
Kislev has a very special meaning. In Hebrew, kis means “pocket” and lev means “heart.” Together, and you get a little piece of poetry -- “Pocket of the heart.”
Just by breaking up the name of Kislev, we learn to cherish our heart’s desires and hold them in our hands. Honoring our dreams is the light and heart of Kislev. Kislev calls for us to take a look within and take time to and reconnect, remember, rekindle the fire of our dreams.
Faith in Kislev
The dictionary definition of faith is “a strong belief in G‑d or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” Meaning, “a person of faith” is someone who keeps to the doctrines of that religion, usually due to fear or conditioning.
However, Judaism looks at faith, emunah, completely differently. Faith in Judaism is based on two things 1. Our soul experienced God firsthand before coming to this world.
Before descending to this world, our soul experienced an infinite Godly revelation. This revelation is a part of our essence, and its impression cannot be erased. Moreover, since this revelation was infinite, when we connect to it, we have access to unlimited powers.
2. Faith is inherent to what our soul is.
Chassidic thought teaches that our soul is an actual part of God, “breathed” into our being. This is an essential part of us. This means that not only was our soul granted an infinite revelation, which would imply a “God and us” or “You and me” relationship but that we have an actual part of God within each of us.
Faith is not something we see, it is rather felt and deep within us. Faith is not related to how we dress or how many mitzvot we keep, faith has and always will be a part of us. Whether one is aware of this or not, each person is eternally connected to God and that connection is always accessible, waiting for us to activate it.
So faith, according to Judaism, explains why someone who isn’t “a believer” can still have deep faith. Faith is really allowing our soul to experience what it remembers and what it essentially is. Faith is that dimension of ourselves that helps us to be in touch with our true reality.
During Kislev, it is a mitzvah (commandment) to have faith, follow our hearts, reconnect to our inner knowing, and move forward, even if we can’t see a clear path. Use your faith to take one step forward in your truth. Even if you’re scared, do it scared.
It is normal to struggle with your purpose and identify in the dark months. With this awareness, you have a choice to fall into the depths of the darkness or rise up with the light. Use this time for introspection, go inwards, and revisit yourself. The late fall and winter months in Israel are crucial to the new growing season of spring. If this is true in nature, it is also true in the spiritual realm for the physical and spiritual reflect each other.
In the dark months, observe what is happening in nature. Days are darker and colder. Life seems stagnant or even dead. Plants shrivel, trees lose their leaves, some animals hibernate. The aforementioned are surface-level observations. They do not show what is happening under the surface, within the trees and earth. It’s not what we can see with our natural eyes but with awakening our spiritual senses, we see beyond the surface. Through the eyes of the soul and wisdom, one can see this stage as a vital time for personal development, new growth, and revisiting one’s self. This time can be regarded as being in the womb, surrounded by water, darkness, and you are developing, receiving nourishment, and growing.
In Cheshvan, we hopefully strengthened our faith to know that whatever comes our way, we can handle it and connect to the light. In Kislev, the roots of our faith are consolidating and activating this month.
Tips for Kislev In Kislev, you can gently ignite the flame of your dreams. Focus this month on believing in yourself, practice your faith in trusting everything is working out for you, and live in the flow of your dreams.
Spiritual Exercises for Kislev
Look around you, notice the colors, the sounds, and your breath. Notice that most of what is, just is and you don’t need to search for it. This very much so relates to our purpose and miracles. We tend to overlook the sparks of light in our life that are indeed divine moments. We look outside of ourselves for the color, for the sparks, for the purpose, and for miracles. However, the purpose, miracles, blessings are right before you. You don’t need to look for them, they are simply within you and around you. In Kislev, challenge yourself to move beyond logic. Even if you’re scared. Keep your eyes and soul open for miracles along the way and do something each week to step outside your comfort zone.
The Significance of a Rainbow: We learned the great flood took place in Cheshvan, cleansing the land besides Noah and Noah’s arc. After the destruction of the flood, on the first day of Kislev, Hashem sent a rainbow as a covenantal sign to never bring a flood again.
The rainbow is parallel to us. A rainbow is formed when pure white light refracts into seven shades. Red is nearest the original beam, and violet is the furthest away from the pure white light.
All people come from one source, in the same way, that red and violet are both caused by the same pure light. No matter how far you may wander, you can always return to light from the darkness. Tribe: The Arizal, a great mystic, tells us that each month is paralleled to one of the 12 tribes. For the month of Kislev, it is the tribe of Binyamin (Benjamin). Binyamin, the youngest of the tribe and one of the sons of Rachel, was known for his unwavering faith in God and his incredible ability to battle evil.
Constellation, Mazal, Sign: It is important to note that the name of the Hebrew zodiac sign of Kislev is Keshet (Rainbow) and not Kashat (The Archer), in remembrance of the rainbow that appeared after the Great Flood that took place in Cheshvan. The arching bow reminds us of the rainbow and of our responsibility to be guardians of the earth. Sagittarius, a fire sign, are born optimists; for them, everything is always okay and always arranged in the best way possible. Sagittarians feel they can solve all problems and will do all things required of them. They are natural philosophers, teachers, lovers, communicators, and friends. They like to travel, they love their freedom and space, and they are interested in world exploration. They share their knowledge with whoever seeks it. They love life and can be quite mischievous children.
It is important to note, the energy is Sagittarius increases in every person. For those born under this month, the energy is stronger. This month keep your focus, don’t be over-optimistic, and take unnecessary risks. Slow down. Write down your ideas and sit with them. Before taking on a new challenge, take a moment to stop and visualize beyond the challenge. Explore to see if the challenge is worth taking on.
Planet: Sagittarius is ruled by the planet Jupiter. The largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter represents the desire to learn, to grow, and expand. Letter of the month: According to Sefer Yitzira, The Book of Formation, an ancient Kabbalistic text written by Avraham Avinu, Kislev attributes the Hebrew letter of this month samech. According to Kabbalah and Sefer Yitzira each month is ruled by two Hebrew letters. One letter rules the planet that dominates the sign. The other letter rules the astrological sign of the month. Kislev’s planet is Jupiter and is ruled by the letter ג (Gimel). Its astrological sign is Sagittarius, which is ruled by the letter ס (Sameh). Gimel symbolizes abundance, prosperity, and good luck. It represents the power and strength of Sagittarius because it is a letter of abundance. We learn this quality from the letter’s structure: Gimel is made by the letter Vav (ו) and the letter Yod (י) which is connected to it at its bottom. The letter Vav symbolizes the spiritual channel that connects us to the upper worlds where abundance then flows into our world. The letter Yod represents this abundance that is being shared with those in need.
The letter Samech comes after the letter Nun (נ) symbolizing downfall. The letter Samech has the role of being the supporter, the assistant to the faller (סומך נופלים), comforting and encouraging anyone who has fallen. Samech helps us recover from falling, mistakes, and shows us although we have fallen, it is not that bad. However, it is important to use the Samech as a way to step out of our comfort zone and not be stuck where it’s comfortable. Although Sagittarians have good luck they can still find themselves trapped in situations they don’t know how to get out of. They do not know how to say a situation is not good for them and to put up the necessary boundaries. The goodness of Sagittarians makes it difficult for them to put up a fight even when it is necessary. Samech is a word that means "support." Gimmel means "to bestow." Therefore, the two words are saying to us "bestow support." This is the essence of the month of Kislev. Since we are always in need of support from Hashem, the month of Kislev is the month where Hashem bestows support to us. This takes the form of miracles.
According to Sefer Yitzira, Kislev rules over the sense of sleep this month, making it no coincidence we have intense urges to sleep and dream!
May this month be your wake-up call to in alignment with your heart, thoughts, feelings, and actions. Sources:
Heller, T. (2021). Kislev: United Colors of the Rainbow. Retrieved from https://www.aish.com/jl/hol/hm/48951051.html
Kabbalah Center. (2012). Sagittarius (Kislev). Retrieved from https://kabbalah.com/en/articles/sagittarius-kislev/
Live Kabbalah. (2021). Kislev - Sagittarius (Keshet). Retrieved from https://livekabbalah.org/kislev-sagittarius-keshet/
Rehan, A. (2021). Astrology Forecat for November 7-13, 2021. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/afwf26m8
Weisberg, C. (2020). What Is Faith According to Judaism? Retrieved from https://www.chabad.org/blogs/blog_cdo/aid/4616178/jewish/What-Is-Faith-According-to-Judaism.htm
Yeshem. (2021). Kislev כסלו – The 9th Hebrew Month. Retrieved from http://www.yeshshem.com/kabbalah-blog-kislev-5772.htm