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The Keshet of Kislev

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It was during the month of Cheshvan that God sent the heavy rains to cover the world and destroy all but those in Noah’s pitch-covered ark. Just over a year later, at the end of the month of Cheshvan, the land finally dried out. Noah’s family, and all the animals, left the ark. During those first days on land, Noah built an altar and brought sacrifices from the “clean” (kosher) animals.

The Torah notes that the savory scent of the sacrifices pleased God, indicating that God recognized Noah’s appreciation for all that He had done. Not long after, God made the covenant of the rainbow with Noah and with all creatures:

“It shall come to pass, when I bring clouds over the earth, and the (rain)bow is seen in the cloud, that I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature… and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh” (Genesis 9:14-15).

The covenant of the rainbow took place during the first days of the month of Kislev, and so the keshet, the bow, became the symbol of that month.

The word keshet, however, also refers to the bow of a bow and arrow, and this, too, is appropriate for the month of Kislev. In just 25 days Jews the world over will celebrate one of our people’s greatest military victories, the Maccabees’ rout of the Syrian-Greek forces (Chanukah). The Maccabees were, in truth, a small band of citizens who took up arms to fight for their right to be Jews, and there is little doubt that the bow and arrow was one of their most important weapons.


The Treat was last posted on November 18, 2009.

Copyright © 2013 NJOP. All rights reserved.

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