Posts Tagged With: Chanukah

Kislev: Light & Identity

  • Month: Nine
  • Name: Kislev, meaning trust, security, hope[1]
  • Tribe: Benjamin
  • Tribal Banner: Wolf
  • Sense: Sleep
  • Mazel: Sagittarius/Keshet (Bow)
  • Organ: Belly/Stomach/Loins
  • Letter: Samekh (60)
  • Themes: Month of Dreams, Festival of Lights/Dedication
  • Torah Portions: Toldot – Generations, Vayetze – And He Went Out, Vayishlach – And He Sent, Vayeshev – And He Settled, and in some years Miketz – At the End

The Light Always Gives[2]

Kislev and Tevet, the 9th and 10th Hebrew months, are the darkest months of the year in the northern hemisphere. Since the natural is a picture or shadow of the spiritual realm[3], what is occurring in nature at this season is mirrored in one’s spiritual life. Less light and more darkness is sensed by both the physical and spiritual aspects of man. For example, when the days grow shorter and colder, some people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD).[4] Light therapy is a common treatment for this type of depression.

Nature is a great teacher, and a firm witness of God’s truth. Thus, by examining creation, we can learn spiritual patterns in the cycle of seasons, days, months, and years. The luminaries of day four of creation GIVE both natural and spiritual light to the earth and earth beings. They govern the day and the night and separate the light from the darkness.[5] Mankind has a proclivity to confuse light and darkness, at least spiritually speaking.[6] The intent of this article is to remind the reader of this reality, and to help one discover how Adonai uses this season every year to refine and prepare one for the next growing season.

All the points at the beginning of this post are important themes that weave together to create the “big picture” view of Kislev. My video on Kislev in 2018 explained most of these themes. But this year, I want to concentrate on the theme of Light and the primary feedback that I have received in the “dark” months over the years.

Identity

During Kislev and Tevet, I receive more emails and messages about identity than anything else. People tend to struggle with their purpose, who they are, and what they should be doing. And, conversely, social media often teems with those that question or challenge the identity of Messiah. Regarding the former, I receive questions at this season that look something like this:

  • Who am I, really?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Is all my work for nothing?
  • Am I toiling in vain?
  • Does God even care?
  • What should I really be doing?
  • How can I function in my gifts and callings?
  • I’m tired. What is the point?

If you find yourself struggling with your purpose or with discerning Adonai’s will for your life in the dark months, know that this is normal. Rather than falling into the malaise of depression, apathy, or condemnation, allow the creation and agricultural season to shed LIGHT on God’s purpose for this introspection. The late fall and winter months in Israel are crucial to the new growing season of spring. If this is true in the natural, it is also true in the spiritual realm.

Right now, it is still the time of the early rains (yoreh) in Israel. They begin after the turn of the year, just after the seventh month and the fall feast days. These rains sink into the hard, dry soil making it easy for farmers to plough the ground and prepare it to receive new seeds. As you read Smith’s Bible Dictionary’s entry on “rain” below, consider the figurative or spiritual application as well as the natural.

“In the Bible, “early rain,” signifies the rain of the autumn, Deu 11:14, and “latter rain,” signifies the rain of spring. Pro 16:1; Pro 16:5. For six months in the year, from May to October, no rain falls, the whole land becomes dry, parched and brown. The autumnal rains are eagerly looked for, to prepare the earth for the reception of the seed. These, the early rains, commence about the latter end of October and continuing through November and December. January and February are the coldest months, and snow falls, sometimes to the depth of a foot or more, at Jerusalem, but it does not lie long; it is very seldom seen along the coast, and in the low plains. Rain continues to fall, more or less, during the month of March, but it is very rare in April… the early and the latter rains, for which the husbandman waited with longing, seem rather to have implied the first showers of autumn — which revived the parched and thirsty soil and prepared it for the seed — and the later showers of spring, which continued to refresh and forward both the ripening crops, and the vernal products of the fields.” Jas 5:7; Pro 16:15.” (Emphasis mine.)

On the higher, spiritual level, the season of the early rains (October, November, December) coincides with the darker, colder, and less “light” time of the year. If the natural purpose is to soften dry, hardened soil for ploughing and planting seeds, then the spiritual purpose is the same in the heart of man. Can you see why it is at this season that people tend to question their purpose and progress, and reevaluate their goals? Especially, in regard to Kingdom work?

Beloved, there is a very real inward battle at this season. Your identity is firmly rooted in Messiah Yeshua. Period. But, that will not excuse one from testing. Testing is for our refinement and is the LORD’s tool to conform us to His image. The months and the moedim GIVE Light to the earth and earth beings. If you’ve been following the moonthly cycle of Adonai for some time, you already know that certain issues pop up at certain seasons EVERY year.

In the dark months, consider what is happening outside. The days are growing darker and colder. Life seems stagnant or even dead. Plants shrivel, trees lose their leaves, some animals crawl into a den of hibernation and SLEEP. All these things are literal surface observations. They do NOT depict what is occurring under the surface, within the trees, and in the soil. In this case, it’s what we can’t see with our natural eyes that matters most. Though one’s natural eyes can see that the environment is dark, cold, and lifeless, one with wisdom knows how VITAL this stage is for NEW GROWTH.

Consider this time of inner reflection to be like a dark, watery womb[7] where you are receiving the early, nourishing
rains of Adonai. They are softening hard, callused attitudes and hearts. Or, think of yourself like a plant or tree. The struggle you face is meant for the betterment of your FUTURE. It is time not only for night dreams,[8] but waking dreams, hopes, and goals. What worked or didn’t work during the growth and harvest season last year? How will you plan your GARDEN for the upcoming season of Light, spring? How will you use these “dark” months? What will you birth or sprout in the spring?

I recommend that you journal any “identity” issues that surface in Kislev and Tevet. Pray and seek God for what He will have you plant, rearrange, uproot, and in what areas you should expand or reconsider altogether. These deep soul questions are normal, and Adonai’s desire is that they help you prepare for the next season. The enemy will use such questions to lead one to despair or condemnation. That is the perversion, and the battleground.

Light Gives

With less natural light available, the spiritual light can also be obscured if one is not diligent to seek it out at this season. Perhaps, this why Adonai gave the Maccabees victory late in this month, as He knew it would be commemorated with the oil fueled light of the Chanukiah. Even if you don’t celebrate Chanukah, this is a good time to review the historical events and learn from them. Judah was fighting a type of spiritual darkness that mixed the holy with the profane, and outright forbid crucial elements of the Covenant between God and Israel such as circumcision, Shabbat and New Moon observance, and Torah study.

Knowledge of this reality is half of the battle. We do not grope in darkness, for there is light in Goshen. We are expected to be prepared in and out of season because we have the Light of the Word and Messiah.

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NASB) I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Messiah warns about the confusion of light and darkness. There is a very real possibility that one can be full of darkness and actually think that they are full of light. In other words, there is a false light that deceives many.

Luke 11:33-36 (NASB) “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. 36 If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”

 

There is one key difference between true and false light. True light always gives. It does not take or steal or consume another in order to “shine.” False light, figured by natural fire, rapidly and hungrily devours its fuel source. Though it shines brightly, it can only do so as it gobbles up the essence and livelihood of another.

False Light Separates Brothers (Pr. 6:16-19)

Today, it has become normal in western cultures to blame others or groups of others for one’s successes or lack thereof. Inner reflection, personal responsibility, and the Sovereignty of God are anathema in their equations. If you believe that you can only shine if and when others are brought low, consumed, silenced, or destroyed, it is time to “watch out that the light in you is not darkness.” The world has a false light, and it sounds very good to man’s passions, desires, lusts, and ego.

True light has no need to take from or consume another person or thing. It burns bright and true without destroying its fuel source. When Adonai called Moses to lead His people out of the bondage of Egypt, this is the first lesson he was taught. God’s light does not consume or destroy.

Exodus 3:2-4 (NASB) The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Moses was told to bring the children to this same mountain where Adonai appeared to him in the burning bush, and this would be a sign that Adonai was with him. (Ex. 3:12) Later, when Moses did so, the children of Israel perceived the glory of Adonai on Mount Horeb (Sinai) as LIKE a consuming fire. But like the bush, it was not actually consumed.

Exodus 24:17 (NASB) And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top.

The Holy Spirit of fire that rests upon God’s people likewise doesn’t consume or destroy the person. Fleshly passions, burning lusts, and worldly desires are quenched, but the man remains. As you consider the “light in you,” review your passions. What fuels your desires? What do you battle for or against? Does your heart burn with the desire to consume others in some way? If we are truly citizens of the Kingdom of Adonai, our lamps will not consume the “wood” or “oil” of another, only foolish virgins think that way.

Rather, our work will GIVE to others. It will uplift, transform, fill up, and brighten the lives of those that Adonai brings into our sphere. Others should see the LIGHT of Messiah in us, which will compel them to turn aside, like Moses, and stop their normal activities to see this marvelous sight. It is so contrary to the natural order that it stuns people. It might even appear to be “foolishness” if one is immersed in worldly wisdom.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NASB)  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.

One of the meanings of Kislev is foolishness or stupidity.[9] In the month of light and darkness, the question is in what or in whom does one trust? For that determines how this word is translated. Do we trust in wisdom or folly? Truth or Lies? In God’s Sovereignty or man’s government? The foolish harlot’s tongue drips honey laced with promises of worldly pleasure, wealth, and grandeur. She excuses and justifies all the destruction and ruin in her wake; and, it really does sound like “wisdom” to the one sprawled on her couch drenched in costly fragrances. “Let it all burn and we will rebuild it in our own image,” she whispers. “It is good.”

On the contrary, the supernatural light of God manifests like chesed (lovingkindness), which is also a GIVER. Chesed and the LIGHT of Adonai are spiritually discerned for those in darkness. It just doesn’t make sense to the natural, worldly mind. But, this “burning without consuming” is where God met with Moses and it is where He made the Covenant with Israel. The pattern is trustworthy. In order to lead others to the Mountain that burns without being consumed, we must first demonstrate the same. May it be so!

Another journal activity for Kislev and Tevet is to consider your gifts. As the ultimate Giver, Adonai gives good gifts to His children. What spiritual gifts do you possess? How are you using them? If you are unsure of what gifts you have, ask other Believers that know you well. They likely see them better than you do. Pray and ask Adonai to reveal to you what they are and how you can serve Him with these talents. If you meet with others for the new moon, devote some time in prayer for those present in the areas of identity and gifts. Many struggle, especially at this season, with one or the other.

Meanwhile, be very careful with what ignites your flame. Next month, in Tevet, anger is the sense. Don’t allow your dream discoveries in Kislev to incite covetousness, rage, jealousy, or contempt. May Adonai bless you and keep you!


[1] See H3689 as used in Job 8:14; 31:24, Proverbs 3:26, Psalm 78:7 (Also see footnote 9.)

[2] Genesis 1:17-18 (NASB) God placed them [the luminaries] in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.

[3] Col. 2:16-17, 1 Cor. 15:46

[4] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

[5] See footnote 2.

[6] Job 17:12, Isaiah 5:20; 9:2; 59:9, Matthew 6:23, John 1:5, etc.

[7] This is the NINTH month, the number most associated with human gestation.

[8] Kislev is called the month of dreams, because most of the dreams recorded in the Torah are read during this month in the Torah cycle.

[9] Hebrew Word Definitions: כֶּסֶל kesel: A masculine noun meaning loins, confidence, stupidity. The first use can actually mean the waist area, the kidneys, etc. (Lev 3:4, Lev 3:10, Lev 3:15; Lev 4:9; Lev 7:4; Job 15:27). The second use is more ambiguous, meaning that in which one puts trust or confidence (Job 8:14; Job 31:24; Psa 78:7; Pro 3:26). The final usage is a false self-trust or stupidity (Psa 49:13 [14]; Ecc 7:25). See the related Hebrew verb kāsal (H3688) and Hebrew noun kislāh (H3690).

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Tevet: Be Angry, and Sin Not

Eph. 4:26-27 (NASB) BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.

This year, I’ve been concentrating on the sense of anger for the upcoming month of Tevet. Tevet is the tenth Hebrew month, which denotes a completion of sorts or a representation of the whole, like a tithe. For example, see number ten in this post, or consider how ten men make a minyan for prayer, or that Abraham negotiated with YHWH down to ten righteous souls to save Sodom (Gen. 18). In what way does Tevet express aspects of ten? The answer to that question has partially eluded me until this year. As it turns out, anger is the key.

First, consider that every year Tevet begins at the end of Chanukah. One’s lamp should be full of candles or light when the tenth month arrives. This is in stark contrast to what is happening in the natural. Outside, the days are short and cold. There is less “light,” physically and spiritually. And yet, followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are meant to be the light to those in darkness.

The spiritual darkness at this season is recorded in the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees:

1 Mac. 1:44-50 (KJVA) For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land, 45 And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:  46  And pollute the sanctuary and holy people: 47 Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine’s flesh, and unclean beasts: 48 That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation: 49 To the end they might forget the law (Torah), and change all the ordinances. 50 And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die.

Denying proper sacrifices, profaning the Shabbat and Feast days of Adonai, polluting the holy altar with swine’s flesh, and forbidding circumcision, all served to make the people forget the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (These things are still true of the anti-messiah spirit.) The end goal of the anti-christ spirit is for God’s people to forget His Torah, His Word. So, what is one actually “forgetting” if this spirit is successful?

Pro. 6:23 (TLV) For the mitzvah is a lamp, Torah a light, and corrective discipline (mussar) the way of life.

The Torah or instructions of Adonai provide spiritual light to those that follow HaShem. They are a light unto one’s path. (Ps. 119:105) They train and teach one in the Way of Life. Chanukah comes from the same root as the Hebrew word for education. (Chet, nun, chaf) Chanak means to train, to dedicate. At the time of the Maccabees, the Greeks were determined to force Hellenism upon the Jewish people, and sadly, they were mostly successful. This necessitated the reeducation of the larger Jewish population with Adonai’s Torah. Celebrating Chanukah reminds one that we are always at war with false ideologies, paradigms, and mindsets.

Interestingly, the Maccabees urged the people to celebrate “the feast of Tabernacles in the month of Kislev” as a commemoration of their victory.

2 Mac. 1:1-9 (KJVA) The brethren, the Jews that be at Jerusalem and in the land of Judea, wish unto the brethren, the Jews that are throughout Egypt health and peace: 2 God be gracious unto you, and remember his covenant that he made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his faithful servants; 3 And give you all an heart to serve him, and to do his will, with a good courage and a willing mind; 4 And open your hearts in his law and commandments, and send you peace, 5 And hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never forsake you in time of trouble. 6 And now we be here praying for you. 7 What time as Demetrius reigned, in the hundred threescore and ninth year, we the Jews wrote unto you in the extremity of trouble that came upon us in those years, from the time that Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and kingdom, 8 And burned the porch, and shed innocent blood: then we prayed unto the Lord, and were heard; we offered also sacrifices and fine flour, and lighted the lamps, and set forth the loaves. 9 And now see that ye keep the feast of tabernacles in the month Casleu (Kislev).

Chanukah literally means dedication; the Maccabees cleansed and rededicated the Temple or House unto Adonai. Like in English, dedicate (chanak) in Hebrew means to devote or set apart for a special purpose. In this case, the Temple was rededicated and devoted solely for the purpose of worshipping YHWH and Him alone. But, dedicate can also mean to devote oneself completely unto someone or something. In this sense, it is related to training. A student devotes or dedicates himself to his studies.

Pro. 22:6 (NASB) Train up (chanak) a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Chanukah reminds one to rededicate their house or Temple for the purposes of Adonai, and to live a life devoted to learning His Word. This conforms and molds one into His image in the earth. In this way, we become vessels of His Light, shining brighter each year. All other ideologies fail and fall as truth is etched onto one’s heart.

2 Tim. 2:15 (KJV) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Therefore, it is with this knowledge fresh on one’s mind that we enter the tenth month of Tevet.

The Head of Tevet

The new moon is the “head” of each month. As such, the first of each month figuratively contains all the raw material and spiritual light for that particular season. In other words, the head (of the month) directs the body (of the month). The head of Tevet begins with the last and brightest lights of the Chanukiah. Thus, Chanukah points the way through Tevet. It trains one how to war against spiritual darkness.

Although we’ve been celebrating the victory of the Maccabees, the rededication of the Temple, and overcoming the enemy despite great odds, Tevet immediately casts one into the throws of seeming peril. It is so great that Zechariah reminds the forlorn people that one day, four traditional fast days WILL become a time of joy. One of those fasts occurs in the tenth month:

Zec. 8:19 (NASB) Thus says the LORD of hosts, “The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.”

The fast on the tenth of the tenth month (Asarah B’Tevet) recalls the siege on the First Temple by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The fast is from just before sun up until nightfall.

2 Ki 25:1 (NASB) Now in the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, camped against it and built a siege wall all around it. (see also Jer. 52:4)

Wait! You mean right after celebrating a victory of overcoming the enemy and rededicating the House to YHWH, we are supposed to recall yet another attack on the Temple? Yes. A better question to ask is, “Why?”

The Temple or House is a physical picture of the Body and the heart of mankind. Just as your physical body and your spiritual body are both essential to life, Adonai’s earthly Temple AND spiritual Temple each serve the God of the Living. In the natural, there is an ongoing war for the place that Adonai placed His name.[1] Likewise, there is an ongoing war for the temple of your body and your heart, where Adonai dwells.

Nebuchadnezzar’s army pitched their tents around the city, and then built siege weapons (dayek) like towers, mounds, and bulwarks, in which they could shoot their arrows and cast their stones.

  • The enemy SURROUNDS the city.
  • They pitch tents.
  • They build siege works to cast arrows and stones past the city walls.

Spiritually or figuratively, at this season has the enemy surrounded you, set up a camp, and began building siege works? Casting arrows or stones can metaphorically refer to words that cut, pierce, or crush another person. We need to not only be on the defensive for such tactics; but even more importantly, we need to ensure that we guard our own tongue and lips! We don’t want to be found with an unruly member.Like Yeshua, it is often best to be silent before one’s accusers.

The story and commemoration of Chanukah and Nebuchadnezzar’s siege on the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the 1stTemple, inform the warfare of the tenth month. There is judgment regarding the “House” at this season. Do you recall another month on Adonai’s calendar where this is the case?

In many ways, Tevet mirrors the fourth month of Tammuz. On Tammuz the 17th, the fast of the fourth month marks another siege on the walls of Jerusalem, this time though, it is a breach of the 2ndTemple.[2] Compare the following account from the Mishnah about the 17thof Tammuz with 1 Maccabees 1:44-50 above.

There were five events that happened to our ancestors on the seventeenth of Tammuz and five on the ninth of Av. On the seventeenth of Tammuz: The tablets were shattered; The tamid (daily) offering was cancelled; The [walls] of the city were breached; And Apostomos burned the Torah, and placed an idol in the Temple. On the ninth of Av It was decreed that our ancestors should not enter the land, The Temple was destroyed the first And the second time, Betar was captured, And the city was plowed up. When Av enters, they limit their rejoicing.[3](Taanit 4:6)

Look at the clock face below. Rather than thinking of hours and minutes, allow each number to represent one of the twelve months. Adonai’s calendar is cyclical like the clock face.

Now, look at number one and number seven. Do you see how they are directly opposite one another on the clock/calendar face? How are month one and month seven alike? The first and seventh months contain all but one of the sacred moedim or appointed times in Leviticus 23. Together they envelop the entire harvest season and the “light” part of the year. Just as Pesach mirrors Sukkot, month one mirrors month seven.

Look at the clock face again. Trace each number to find it’s opposite in the year. (1-7, 2-8, 3-9, 4-10, 5-11, 6- 12.) We can learn much by studying opposites. Connections that one would otherwise miss are revealed through opposite counterparts. This is how male and female are meant to function, they are alike and yet opposite. (To understand this better, see The Biblical Role of Women.)

By looking at each month’s counterpart on the calendar, one can learn a great deal about what is happening (spiritually) at that season. For example, month 6 (Elul) and month twelve (Adar) are both months of spiritual preparation. Yom Hakippurim is a day (yom) like Purim if one takes the time to investigate it. The forty days of repentance begins on the first of Elul and concludes on Yom Kippur. Besides repentance, this forty day period of examination includes renouncing and annulling careless words, promises, and vows made in the previous year. Just before Yom Kippur, the Kol Nidre service serves to finalize this process.

Queen Esther nullified the vows of her husband at Mordecai’s suggestion, which was a topsy turvy play on Numbers 30. Pur doesn’t just mean “lots,” but also annulments. Purim commemorates much more than Haman’s wicked “lots.” It also celebrates the “pur” or annulments of Queen Esther![4] Ideally, one repents, prepares, and annuls impulsive vows before Yom Kippur in Elul, the mirror of Adar.  Thus, by examining each month’s counterpart, one gains a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rhythm of the Creator’s calendar.

The tenth month (Tevet) mirrors month four (Tammuz). The theme of each month is centered on the siege of the walls of Jerusalem, and the eventual destruction of Adonai’s House. According to tradition, the House or Temple was destroyed because of:

1stTemple – idolatry

2ndTemple – baseless hatred against brothers

The rabbis teach that, in reality, both sins were present at each destruction. Besides being a direct infraction of the two greatest commandments (love Adonai, love neighbor), what else do these destructions have in common? Meditating on this, I had a realization about the sense of anger. The Bible says to, “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

Anger Brings Destruction

According to psychology, anger is a secondary emotion; meaning, it is rooted in the more primary emotion of fear. Anger is the “fight” side of the “fight or flight (or freeze)” instinct that one has when faced with danger or a threat. With fear and anger, one’s heart rate accelerates, blood pressure rises, and adrenaline increases blood circulation to the muscles. These physical responses enable one to run quickly, or to stand and fight the enemy or threat one is facing.

These physical responses can save your life if you meet a bear in the woods. But, while they enable the physical body to perform with increased speed and strength, they simultaneously decrease one’s executive brain. In other words, anger (and fear) reduces one’s ability to perform risk assessment. One’s actions are managed without forethought about how they will affect the future. These emotions are pinpointed on the moment of threat with survival being the only goal in sight. The sad part, is that what we perceive as a threat can simply be someone else’s opinion. This is especially true in the age of lightning fast global communication.

The Talmud equates anger with the sin of idol worship, which is an affront to the first and greatest commandment, and one of the reasons YHWH allowed the Temple to be destroyed. Why do you suppose the rabbis consider anger to be on the level of idolatry?

When one is enraged, who is on the throne? It can be fear, but it can also be self, a form of pride. Think about this for a moment. Imagine a time when you were infuriated. Did you not have a strong sense of righteousness at that time? Couldn’t you list off a litany of reasons why you had the “right” to be furious? Whether you were right or wrong at that moment in time, you became the judge. Likely, you were also the executioner spewing out reprimands, insults, and judgments. In this way, anger, became a false god. Or more accurately, anger ruled your heart, not Adonai.

The Jewish sages have some profound messages on anger. In Pesachim 66b, it says, “Whosoever yields to anger, if he be a wise man his wisdom leaves him, and if he be a prophet his prophecy leaves him.” Nedarim 22a says, “The angry person is overcome by all forms of hell.” The sages realize that an angry person doesn’t think straight. They have a one track mind that the Bible equates to foolery.

Ecc. 7:9 (NASB) Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.

I don’t know one person that has not said or done something that they regret when they were angry. There is a reason that in Hebrew anger is expressed with words like boiling, seething, and burning. It is the emotion most akin to hell, because if acted on, fists of fury and injurious words of death blast out like a machine gun bent on destruction. These actions are never righteous, though many believe they are justified if the other person is in error or wicked or _________ – you pick an excuse. It behooves us to stick with the wisdom of James:

James 1:19-21 (NASB) This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

Man’s anger does NOT achieve the righteousness of God. This doesn’t mean that it is a sin to get angry, especially over sin and injustice. Knowing this, many people use the coined term “righteous anger” to differentiate between sinful anger and non-sinful anger. The problem is that I have witnessed many people use the term “righteous anger” to say (or type) horrible, hurtful things to others. Their actions produce anything but “righteousness.”

If you are a Believer and are truly seeking after the righteousness of God, then you know how easy it is to deceive yourself. Anger comes from a place of fear, which only the perfect love of Adonai can cast out. If not from fear, it comes from pride, which is superiority – a form of idolatry. Thus, the emotion of anger is not the problem; rather, it’s what one does with that anger.

When we are angry, we cannot achieve the righteousness of God. In the heat of the moment, it is imperative to ask yourself whether the anger is coming from fear or pride. (These are actually two sides of the same coin.) Ask yourself: What am I afraid of? Why do I feel superior in this situation? How can I turn my anger into an action that will be restorative for the other person, myself, and perhaps others? These are some of the questions that can cool off one’s hot head. They also remind one to LOVE their neighbor, the second failure of Israel that caused the Temple to be destroyed.

Pro. 12:15-16 (KJV) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. 16 A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

Even if the other person is wrong, a wise man or woman will cover the shame of the other. Rather than go on a tirade exposing the flesh of their neighbor, a wise person has learned to REACT differently. This is incredibly difficult, a test I’ve failed many times. Mussar teacher Alan Morinis put it this way:

“The issue is not anger; the issue is how we act in response to that trigger. And what we learn from Jewish wisdom is that we should strive never to lose our mastery over our emotional lives. We see that in the liturgy that has us praise God’s quality of being slow to anger. On festival days and especially on Yom Kippur, we intone, ‘Adonai, Adonai! Compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness .…’ Notice that being “slow to anger” is high on the list of characteristics we ascribe to God.”[5]

If you are reading this post, I believe, like me, you desire to be like Adonai. This includes being long nosed, the Hebrew idiom for being “slow to anger.” A long nose takes a long time for air to travel in and out. It is akin to taking a deep breath and slowly releasing it. This is a scientifically proven method to help one to calm down. Before reacting, pause, and practice some deep breathing.

Pro. 16:32 (NASB) He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

Be Angry, and Sin Not

This Tevet, consider once again the siege on the walls of Jerusalem, and the eventual destruction of the Temple. Be angry about what brought Israel to this devastating predicament, which was idolatry and baseless hatred. Search your heart for hidden idols and hate. Get angry about those things. Use this time as an opportunity to root out darkness in your own heart. Don’t take the bait in the MANY traps and siege works of the enemy. They are there to incite anger and to get you to react in an unrighteousness manner.

Adonai’s clock is pointed at the ten and the four. Four is about authority, and ten is a tithe representing the whole. How we handle anger will reveal whether destruction or restoration occurs. It also reveals who sits on the throne of one’s heart. If it’s anger instead of our compassionate, slow to anger God, the siege works will continue. But, even that is His mercy. Getting to the root of anger is one of the keys to spiritual wholeness.

If you know you’re angry, get alone with Adonai and let it out. Read the Psalms. David poured it all out to Adonai, anger and all. Allow Adonai to show you the root behind your rage. Let Him cast out your fears one by one. If pride is the issue, find ways to humble yourself before Adonai and others. Seek to honor people, especially those you think don’t deserve it.

The political climate in America is ripe with tensions meant to make you seethe like a beast in the field. Choose differently. Religious spirits, likewise, have set crafty traps to do the same. Instead of becoming burning mad, exploding like a nuclear bomb, or blasting others with the flame torch of your tongue (or keyboard), be a simple flame of light, like the candles on the Chanukiah. Shine brightly and humbly. Bring warmth, hope, forgiveness, and honor to those in darkness.

Luke 11:33-36 (NASB) “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.  34 “The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness.  35 “Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness.  36 “If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”

Happy Chanukah and may your tenth month of Tevet be blessed! Learn more about Tevet here.


[1]Dt. 12, 1 Kings 11:36

[2]Learn more about Tammuz and The Three Weeks here.

[3]https://www.sefaria.org/Mishnah_Taanit.4.6?lang=en&with=all&lang2=en retrieved 12/26/19

[4]For a deeper look at this truth, see: The Queen You Thought You Knew by Rabbi David Fohrman. See also Esther’s Mystery Behind the Mask by Dr. Hollisa Alewine.

[5]https://mussarinstitute.org/Yashar/2016-03/mussar_lens.phpretrieved 12/26/19

Categories: Moedim, Mussar, new moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5779 (2018)

Though we are well into the 10th month of Tevet, I’ve just now been able to rerecord the video. Audio only versions are posted below the videos. (Also, I’m considering posting pdfs of my video notes in the future for those that prefer to read, but they would be in a raw format. If you’re interested in this, post so below.)

We are in the midst of the “Good Month” and I have many good reports to share with you about the Holy Land, but I haven’t had time since returning to even upload all of my pictures and videos. For now, know that Abba is doing GOOD things in the Land and in us. I know the labor pains are difficult, but the reward will be worth every contraction, every tear, and every drop of sweat!

Enjoy! May the rest of your month be blessed!

Part one is the “short” version, but is also the intro to Part 2 for those that want a lengthier message.

Tevet 1 Audio Only

Tevet 2 Audio Only

P.S. I’d like to give special thank you to those of you that have donated recently to Grace in Torah! I pray Adonai returns these gifts to you many times over.

Categories: Moedim, new moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

New Moon of Tevet in Jerusalem

Chag Sameach Chanukah and Chodesh Tov Tevet!

I am blessed to be in the Land of the King for two weeks. It’s been cold and rainy in Jerusalem, but it’s only made the streets of gold glisten all the more! These photos are from erev Shabbat last night.

Kotel, Erev Shabbat 6th Night of Chanukah 2018 © K. Gallagher
Chanukiah Lights outside homes in the Old City of Jerusalem.
© K. Gallagher

I prerecorded a video for the tenth month of Tevet before I left for Israel. Sadly, when I tried to upload to YouTube tonight, the audio had issues that I could not repair. If I am able, I will record again while I’m in the Land. If not, I’ll post the video later this month after I return home. Meanwhile, may Adonai bless your tenth month of Tevet!

Want to experience the Holy Land for yourself? Join Dr. Hollisa Alewine of The Creation Gospel this Passover in Israel! Click here for details. 😀

Categories: new moon, News Flash | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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