Tishrei, Biblical Calendar, Hebrew, Rabbi Jason Sobel

Tishrei: The Month of Renewal in the Hebrew Calendar

God renews creation. Tishrei’s festivals all focus on the person praying, waiting, and relying upon the Lord. Consequently, this month’s other name (Ethanim meaning “strong”) makes perfect sense, as “they who wait for Adonai will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

Kislev, Biblical Calendar, Hebrew, Rabbi Jason Sobel

Kislev: The Month of Trust and Dedication in the Hebrew Calendar

Kislev is often playfully re-written as Kis-Lev (Purse of the Heart). Kislev is a time to examine what is in our hearts. It’s also time to fill them with reminders of the goodness of God. These concepts are most evident during the holiday that falls during this month: Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.

Tevet, Biblical Calendar, Hebrew, Rabbi Jason Sobel

Tevet: The Month of Divine Grace in the Hebrew Calendar

2 Kings 25 tells us Nebuchadnezzar began Babylon’s siege of Jerusalem on the 10th day of Tevet (a fast day known as Asarah B’Tevet). Ironically, the Jewish people adopted the name “Tevet” during the Babylonian exile. It is believed to connote “sinking” or “immersing.”

Cheshvan, Biblical Calendar, Hebrew, Rabbi Jason Sobel

Cheshvan: The Month of Reflection in the Hebrew Calendar

Cheshvan is a month of no holidays and arrives on the heels of the month with the most holidays. In Jewish tradition, this is a solemn time of reflection in case one was excessively frivolous during the holiday season. Therefore, the first Monday, Thursday, and the second Monday after the Sabbath are commonly days of fasting from sunrise to sunset.

Shevat, Biblical Calendar, Hebrew, Rabbi Jason Sobel

Shevat: The Month of Blessings and Fruitfulness in the Hebrew Calendar

According to Tradition, the first of Shevat is when Moses began giving his final address to Israel. “Across the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this Torah saying, ‘Adonai our God spoke to us at Horeb saying: ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain’” (Deuteronomy 1:5-6). For the entire month of Shevat, he would sit in the meeting tent and elucidate the Torah.    

Adar, Biblical Calendar, Hebrew, Rabbi Jason Sobel

Adar: The Month of Joy in the Hebrew Calendar

There are many joyous dates on the Jewish calendar, but besides Purim, none affect an entire month, causing it to be auspicious and joyous. Purim is the celebration of Israel’s rescue from the Persian leader Haman’s genocidal plot (as recorded in the Book of Esther). The Rabbis teach that Purim is like Yom Kippur (the “Day of Atonement”). While on Yom Kippur we achieve holiness through the mortification of the flesh and long hours of prayer, we realize that same level of holiness on Purim through feasting, celebration, and joy.  

Sivan, Biblical Calendar, Hebrew, Rabbi Jason Sobel

Sivan: The Month of Purpose in the Hebrew Calendar

Although Iyar does not contain many “special days,” every single day of the month is included in the Counting of the Omer. This month is a period of introspection and self-refinement, as we prepare ourselves to receive the Torah and the Spirit anew on Pentecost. Each day of Iyar represents another step in this spiritual journey toward Mount Sinai.