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The Light of Chanukkah through the Month of Kislev

It’s a well-known principle that whenever a Jewish month has a certain festival, it is illuminated and highly influenced by that festival. Kislev is the 3rd month of the year, when Chanukkah falls on its 25th day. It is associated with the Sephirah of Tifered (beauty), and is the male counterpart of Sivan, when Shavuot happens.

This is very telling, because beauty is a supremely high virtue, which transcends the physical plane. Rather than just a nice appearance, in spiritual terms, it is the harmonious balance between the forces chassadim (benevolences) and gevurot (judgments) to produce a meaningful result. In fact, it’s nothing less than seeing the result of our hard work, just as when we see and enjoy the hard fruits of the land after the bringing of the Omer offering, on Shavuot.

As we approach the incredibly powerful month of Kislev, in which Chanukkah falls, we should prepare ourselves, both physically and mentally in order to make the most out of it. Read on to find out!

Balance in Jewish Life

True peace comes from harmonizing opposites. It’s when we reach the balance between hard work and rest, or personal effort and Emunah, or giving and taking, or any other duality.

The Mitzvot and Torah study we do help us live a balanced life, full of light. We are commanded to work during the 6 days, and rest thoroughly for 1. We have to be careful not to overeat, but shouldn’t also mortify ourselves. We are enjoined to partake from the pleasures of this world, but should not lose track that we are aiming for the Olam HaBah (World to Come).

The word for balance is Izun (איזון), and it is also related to the word Ozen (אוזן), which means ear. Very tellingly, on Kislev, we are rectifying the “left ear” of the male part of divine providence (often called “Ze’ir Anpin” in Kabbalah). This is because our sages teach that the “ears bring balance” to a person.

This concept goes even deeper, as the sense associated with “ear” is the “hearing” sense. Hearing is an aspect of the Sephirah of “Binah” (Understanding), which, as we know is associated with Chanukkah. Understanding, just like hearing, is about gathering all the separate pieces of information and putting them together.

In Kislev, much like in Sivan (the female counterpart), we are granted a glimpse of what we achieved on Rosh Hashanah.

In fact, the Ba’al Shem Tov teaches that a person still has an “opening” to do proper Teshuva until Chanukkah! This is brought from a verse in Tehilim, which states “you bring a person until he submits [i.e. does Teshuva]”. The world for “submits” in this case is דכא, which is Gematria 25, a reference to the 25th day of Kislev, when Chanukkah starts.

Secrets of Kislev and Chanukkah

Kislev ((כסלו is a contraction of 2 words, Kis (כס) and Lev (לו). The word Kis can mean throne/chair (כסא) if we add one more letter alef with numberical value of 1 (which is totally permitted according to Gematria). The word lev has a numerical value of 36 alluding to the 36 hidden tzaddikim or the 36 candles of Chanukkah that we light (not counting the Shamash). However, לו can also be read as לב (heart), if we substitute the Vav of a Vet (also permitted), alluding to the love of Hashem we experience during this month. The word Kis can also be written as כיס which means purse of wallet, so that’s something positive we can always look forward to as well.

The Arizal teaches that, contrary to Purim, Chanukkah does not have a Talmud Tractate, because the Festival is from the Sephirah of Hod (splendor). Purim, as we know comes from the Sephirah of Netzach (victory, or eternity), and has Tractate Megillah about it. However, unlike Purim, we say the whole Hallel and celebrate for 8 days. This blessing can be felt already as we enter Kislev, as we mentioned above.

As the holy month of Kislev approaches, let us be happy that Hashem is giving us this fantastic opportunity to serve him while enjoying life. May we all see the fruits of our labor, in this world and the next!

This article was written in the zechut of all the Emuna Builder Partners! May they all have complete emuna, excellent health, and success in all their endeavors.

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