Have you ever heard it said that the Torah portion for the week, when we know what to look for, will match what’s going on in our life that week? The ancient wisdom of God’s Word is timeless and has relevant importance to us even today. Each week we have an opportunity to glean the Torah for today’s inspiration. It’s a Torah principle called “living with the times.” I have countless personal examples of this principle active in my life. Maybe you do too. If not, keep an eye out. Write them down.
Within the Torah portions of Genesis, an interesting theme emerges: most of the dreams mentioned in the Torah (10 in fact, dreamed by 7 dreamers) are in the book of Genesis! Most appear in the Torah portions of Vayeitzei, Vayeshev, and Mikeitz, all read during the month of Kislev. The sages say, therefore, that dreams are an important topic to meditate on during Kislev. So too, they say is understanding the healing quality of sleep.
The traditional Jewish prayer upon waking, called “modeh ani” was written in the 16th century. This might be the perfect time to add this blessing to your morning routine!
Modeh Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai Vekayom Shehechezarta Bi Nishmati
Bechemla Raba Emunatecha
I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me;
Your faithfulness is great.
In Jewish thought, when you sleep, your soul ascends to the “higher world” with God. When you wake up, God returns your soul to your body once again so you can continue the work you’ve been called to do. Therefore, it’s important to recite a prayer of thanksgiving for allowing you to live another day toward your purpose.
“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.”
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Say what you might about this belief of where the soul goes during sleep, (I know this is not found in Christianity, so it might sound weird if you’ve never heard it before), but the practice of starting out the day with a heart of gratitude to God is a good practice anyway!
Speaking of heart of gratitude, let’s take a quick look at the word “Kislev.” The word kis means pocket. The word lev means heart. Remember the English idiom “wear your heart on your sleeve?” That means being openly vulnerable and showing your emotions.
Is this month telling us to wear (or keep) our heart in our pocket? The thing about pockets is that we can keep things out with a closed pocket, or let things in with an open pocket. Closed pockets are dark and open pockets let in light. I can’t help but be reminded of the major (albeit not one of the Feast days of God) holiday celebrated in Kislev – Chanukkah, the celebration of light and a heart full of resolve to not assimilate into the godless culture around you.
A pocket is a closed-up place, but can allow access. Figuratively speaking, if your heart is in your pocket, you have the choice to let in the true light of God’s love to engulf your heart. Or, you can keep your heart alone and in the dark. We often go ‘looking’ for love in all the wrong places’ to quote the song, but only God’s love is the light we need. Maybe this is the month to connect deeper to match your ‘heartbeat’ with the Father’s. Maybe a heart in a pocket during the month of Kislev offers better access to the Father’s light and a reconnection with our God-given dreams.
What is this light? The Menorah has so much to teach us! Chanukkah utilizes the 9-branch candelabra, but the Menorah in the Temple has 7. The entire lampstand of the Menorah should be made of a single hammered piece of pure gold and the lamps arranged facing forward, toward the center or shamash/servant lamp, concentrating the light, toward the center. This has the effect of making one single large unified light. (Exodus 25:31-40)
This tells us that God’s light is concentrated from a single source, with all the lamps shining forth together as one. The Menorah expresses the unique relationship between God and each of us. The flame expresses our rising up to our calling to become one with God; and consequently, to become a shining light in our spheres of influence the LORD has given us. The menorah is expressive of God's divine light and this includes His 7 attributes: Adonai, wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and reverence (Isaiah 11:2).
As you move through this month, consider how you can magnify God’s light in you and let that shine outside the protective walls (your pocket) that you’ve built up. How might you release the power of your heart united with the Father and your dreams that come from time spent with Him? Remember that even a little light dispels the darkness. Don’t despise small beginnings and don’t compare your light to anyone else’s, because your light comes from time with the Father. Your dreams do, too.