Eight Interesting Facts about Kislev
Kislev is coming! Kislev is coming!
What’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions Kislev?
That’s a real no-brainer.
So, I started wondering, what are some other interesting things about Kislev?
I came up with 8 of them. Yes, I was thinking about the 8 days of Chanukah.
But even so, I think you’ll find this an interesting list.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
1. Kislev in Tanach
The month of Kislev is mentioned by name two times in Tanach (Judaica Press translation):
The Chumash does not give names to the months. They are only identified by number.
The first month is what we now call Nisan.
The verse in Zechariah clearly identifies Kislev as the 9th month.
2. Kislev in the Mishna
Kislev is also mentioned two times in the Mishna:
Concerning six months the messengers go out: Nisan because of Pesach, … Kislev because of Chanukah, …
This mishna is discussing when the Beit Din would send out messengers to tell the Jewish people which day had been declared Rosh Chodesh.
Once the day of Rosh Chodesh is known, then the community is able to celebrate the holidays on the proper day.
We understand from the mishna that it is important that the celebration of Chanukah start on the correct day of the month.
We might have thought that since Chanukah is Rabbinically ordained it is not so important if people are not clear about exactly when to begin its celebration.
If Rosh Chodesh Kislev arrived and no rain has fallen, the Beit Din decrees three fasts on the people.
Kislev is in the rainy season and in a normal year rain should have fallen before the month begins.
3. The Length of Kislev
All of the months of the Jewish calendar are either 29 or 30 days long.
In our fixed calendar, the number of days in each month does not vary.
The only execptions are Cheshvan and Kislev. Normally, Cheshvan is 29 days and Kislev is 30 days.
However, depending on various circumstances, Cheshvan may be 30 days and Kislev may be only 29 days.
It just so happens that this year, 5773, both Cheshvan and Kislev are 29 days.
4. Kislev and Light
Kislev is the month of decreasing and increasing light.
We all know that the shortest day of the solar year occurs in December. This is called the winter solstice and usually falls on December 21.
Even before the solstice, we experience the earliest sunsets of the year. In Jerusalem, the earliest sunset time is 4:40 pm and occurs during the first week of December.
The month of Kislev overlaps with the end of November and the beginning of December. That means, that Kislev is when the sun start setting later.
5. Kislev and the Flood
The rain of the flood ended in Kislev.
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on this day, all the springs of the great deep were split, and the windows of the heavens opened up.
12 And the rain was upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.
Rashi quotes two opinions in the Gemara about when the rains began. According to R. Eliezer, the rains began in the month of Cheshvan.
(We now treat Cheshvan as the ninth month. Rabbi Eliezer says that until the Jewish people left Egypt, the months were counted from Tishrei.)
If we count 40 days and nights from the 17th of Cheshvan, then the rains ended on the 27th of Kislev.
6. Kislev and the Mishkan
The Mishkan (Tabernacle) was completed in Kislev
God commanded the Jewish people to build the Mishkan as a place for Him to dwell amongst them (see Shemot starting from chapter 25).
The construction began during the month of Tishrei. The Mishkan was erected and the sacrifical service began the follow Nisan.
Our tradition tells us that actual construction of the Mishkan and all of its accessories was completed on the 25th of Kislev.
God commanded Moshe to store everything until the appropriate time to consecrate and begin using it.
7. Kislev and Saggitarius
The month of Kislev is associated with the astrological sign Saggitarius – the archer.
The Hebrew word for Saggistarius is “keshet” which can be translated as either bow or rainbow.
God promised Noach that the world would never again be destroyed by a flood:
According to Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov in The Book of Our Heritage, this promise was made during the month of Kislev.
Chanukah begins on the 25th of Kislev and lasts eight days.
Chanukah commemorates the military victory over the Greek oppression and the miracle that occured when a small flask of oil lasted for eight days.
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