Parts 2 and 3 of this study on the paradox of God’s omniscience vs. man’s freedo of choice contains insight into the spiritual essence of Chanukah, which straddles the months of Kislev and Tevet, the Chanukah candles, and what to meditate upon when gazing upon them. We recommend reading the entire article to fully understand the topics related to Kislev and Chanukah.
Throughout the five books of the Torah, we find ten explicit dreams (dreamed by seven “dreamers”) all in the Book of Genesis. In the Torah portions read during the month of Kislev, we find most of the dreams mentioned in the Torah.
The merit of the Holy Land is the great merit of living in a land where every act performed has inherent value, in a land that supports fruitful dialogue between heaven and earth, between body, soul and the source of all souls, and between the Jewish people and the Almighty.
Anyone who is released from prison must thank God. But, only under very special circumstances does such an event become a festive day that is noted for generations on the calendars of hundreds of thousands of people. However, this is the case with 19th of Kislev, the day on which the founder of Chabad Chassidut, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was released from prison more than two centuries ago. This date was not only instituted by Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s devoted followers, but Rabbi Shneur Zalman himself even saw the episode of his captivity and subsequent redemption as an event of national importance.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman coined the phrase, “living with the times” which means to live life in the light of the weekly Torah portion; and to see it as an indicator for all that happens to us throughout the week—both on a personal and national level. Indeed, the date when Rabbi Shneur Zalman was released from prison usually falls during the week of the Torah portion of Vayeshev, which relates how Joseph was imprisoned in the Egyptian jail.
On the 19th of Kislev we commemorate Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe’s release from prison in czarist Russia and all charges against him were dropped. It is the practice of Chabad chassidim to celebrate this date as Rosh Hashanah (the “New Year”) of Chassidut). But, what is it that makes Yat Kislev (19th of Kislev) such a momentous occasion?
Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi set a milestone for the development of authentic Jewish feminism by predicting the rise of female consciousness and the transformation of woman from a passive receiver to an active figure of influence.
The crux of the challenge that classical Western culture presents us with does not lie in science itself. The problem is with the undeserved status that it has held since the wars of the Maccabees against the ancient Greeks. To this day, the rational mind continues to be Western culture’s unquestioned authority, and scientists have become the priests of a new religion. The result is scorn and disdain at any attempt to offer new and daring ways of thought that climb out of the box of rational thought to heights science cannot even dream of. For this reason, victory over the wisdom of Greece does not mean the end of science. On the contrary, it means placing science in its proper place as a tool of the intellect, which, when illuminated correctly can certainly be used to augment our understanding of creation and the Creator. This last idea foreshadows the unification of Torah with science, one of the critical elements in the redemptive process.
If we were to do a survey to find out which is the most favorite Jewish holiday, Chanukah would probably reach the top of the list. Children and adults alike enjoy basking in the special light that envelops us and warms the heart during this beloved festival. But from the perspective of Jewish law, Chanukah is actually the least festive of all festivals. In fact, it is not even clear that it should be referred to as a “festival” at all.
For the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement, Chanukah was his “favorite” holiday — for Chanukah is the holiday of light, a light that fills the soul and warms the heart. Click here to read the full article.
A very popular Jewish custom is to play dreidel on Chanukah. Adults together with children gather around the lights of the menorah, spinning to discover which letter falls on top. What is the deeper significance of this act, and what meaningful thoughts can we have in mind while playing dreidel this Chanukah? As we will see, by spinning the dreidel in front of the Chanukah lights, we are bridging the gap between the finite realm and the infinite.
We count the days of Chanukah by lighting one candle on the first day and progressing to eight candles on the eighth day. But, Beit Shamai’s opinion is that we should light them in descending order. What does the way we count the days of Chanukah come to teach us about living in the present?
Notable Dates in Kislev
2 Kislev – Yahrzeit of R. Meshulam Feivish Heller, the Yosher Divrei Emet
5 Kislev – Yahrzeit of the Maharsha
9 Kislev – Yahrzeit of R. Dovber the Mittler Rebbe of Chabad
12 Kislev – Yahrzeit of R. Avraham Dov of Avritsch, the Bat Ayin
19 Kislev – Yahrzeit of the Magid of Mezritch
19 Kislev – Alter Rebbe released from imprisonment and New Year of Chassidut
25 Kislev – First day of Chanukah