Kislev is the third month from the beginning
of the year, Tishrei. It has an advantage over the third month
of Sivan, when we begin [the counting] from Nissan, because
the order from Nissan is in a way of ‘ohr yoshor’ [direct
light] and the marriage of the giving of the Torah in the
third month of Sivan was not sustained, because the first
tablets [given in Sivan] did not remain intact. By contrast,
Tishrei is ‘ohr chozor’ [retractive light], teshuvah which
is higher than the service of tzaddikim, and the second tablets
are ‘doubly strong’…and they endure forever…
The giving of the Torah was in the third month of Sivan,
while mesirat nefesh [self sacrifice] for Torah and Mitzvot
was in Kislev, because the Greeks wanted to ‘make them forget
Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will.’ The miracle
of Chanukah [in the month of Kislev]… was on nigleh [the revealed
dimension] of Torah, and the miracle on the nistar [hidden
dimension] of Torah was on the 19th, 29th
and 10th of Kislev…
-- R’ Levi Yitzchak Schneerson – Likkutei
Levi Yitzchak, Igrot pp. 205, 217
Time is energy. Like a spiral, time flows in
cycles, returning to its original point, each time on another
Every month has its own unique energy. Actually,
Chodosh (the Hebrew word for month) means ‘new.’ By
aligning ourselves to the specific energy of each respective
month, we open up new channels of blessings and opportunities
in our lives.
The energy of this new Hebrew month of Kislev,
the third of the winter months, is the power of harmony. The
number three is associated with Tiferet, the third of the
seven emotional sefirot, reflected in our seven emotional
faculties [for a detailed description, see my Spiritual
Guide to Counting the Omer].
Tiferet literally means beauty. What is beauty?
Why do we find certain things appealing to the eye – what
we call ‘beautiful’ – and others not so? What is the anatomy,
the ingredients of beauty?
Some of you may argue, that frankly: who cares?
If something is beautiful it’s just beautiful and that’s it.
If it ain’t it ain’t. And anyway, beauty is just in the eyes
of the beholder. ‘Al tam v’rayach ayn l’hisvakayach,’
on taste and smell one cannot argue (in the original Hebrew
these two phrases happen to rhyme). So how can a definition
of beauty help us? And can beauty be quantified with academic
and scientific definitions?
Beauty – Tiferet – is harmony within diversity.
Beauty always consists of the joining of two opposites. Anything
beautiful is always multifaceted, but the diverse forces are
As pretty as one color – say, blue – may be,
it still would not be defined as beautiful. As sweet as one
musical note may sound, it cannot be called beautiful. Beauty
is always a combination of many colors – as in a painting
– whose balance and coordination creates a beautiful mosaic.
Many different musical notes, when played just the right way,
generate a beautiful symphony.
Take nature. The beauty of nature is in the
fact that so many different systems work with such astonishing
synchronicity. Perhaps no better or closer example of this
is our own selves. “From my flesh I behold G-d.” The healthy
human body is a miraculous piece of architecture. So many
different limbs and organs, numerous diverse systems and faculties.
Let alone the multitude of cells, hormones, chemicals, and
DNA. And all combined as one fascinating unit, working as
one synchronized whole.
This is tiferet – beauty, the harmony within
Something that strikes us (even subjectively)
as beautiful is balance and symmetry of several – or very
many – different elements, all combined in just the right
This also tells us that the components that
create beauty always have the potential for chaos, and even
unsightliness. One color, one note – and definitely several
– out of synch, will compromise the entire composition and
make it look awry. One mutant cell can wreak havoc in the
entire body. A single musical note may not be beautiful and
will be tedious if repeated again and again, but it will not
create chaos, just annoying monotony. As soon as you introduce
more elements, the potential for chaos becomes possible. Each
additional element – that can further beautify the composition
– creates more potential discord.
This is the paradox – and power – of beauty.
As we begin the third month of the year we enter
the energy of balance and beauty. But not just plain beauty:
Kislev is the harmony that emerges after chaos. [Sivan is
the harmony that has not yet ‘tasted’ discord]. Even when
we experience the clash of diverse forces in our lives – within
ourselves, between our communities and between nations – this
new month, with its holidays, all rooted in Chanukah, empowers
us with the ability to find the deeper harmony within.
To discover harmony within diversity we need
to be truthful to ourselves and to G-d. We need bittul
– a combination of self-suspension, modesty and humility.
And therein lies the true secret of Tiferet.
In addition to beauty, Tiferet is also related to emet
(truth). Truth means that it is true not just in one circumstance,
environment or set of conditions, but in all of them.
If it is true it has to be true throughout – in the beginning,
middle and end (hence, the three letters of EMeT, aleph,
mem, tov, the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew
To recognize harmony within diversity we need
to have profound bittul – a deep sense of truth and
integrity – that allows us to see the underlying thread that
unites a vast variety of distinct forces. Tiferet has this
bittul, and therefore, as the third and middle branch
in the sefirot structure it serves as the spine that connects
all the different sefirot, reaching up to Keter (crown) and
drawing down to Malchut (action). It is able to penetrate
within all the diversity and draw out the inner unity within
all the dimensions, while also allowing each one to express
its individuality. Like a conductor, tiferet, coordinates
all the different musical instruments, all the diverse musical
notes, each playing its particular instrument and note at
its best, while joining together in one beautiful composition.
This is the mystery of beauty.
May Kislev help us all become more beautiful