After many years researching in preparation for Bible Studies and the celebration of the Hebrew Feasts, this site is a work in progress to provide those notes and insights to anyone who might find them useful. Here is a link to the dates of these feasts: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/calendar-of-major-jewish-holidays/

The Feasts

Each feast reveals the attributes of God like a jewel with many facets. When we look at the jewel from the top, we find ourselves overwhelmed with the unfathomable beauty and richness of Jesus Christ. With that understanding, every activity in our life is part of the celebration and thus becomes holy service to God. Without it, activities (ie. Christmas, Easter, etc.) tend to be pseudo-events and become gentile idol worship.

At three pilgrimage feasts – Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles–every male of age Israelite was required to gather at the place appointed (Jerusalem) no matter where they were or what else they were doing, or else be cut off from the people of God (Israel). This became God’s primary way of keeping Israel from mixing with the world, and insured their sanctification even when scattered in the diaspora. Of course, this didn’t work, in the end, as they still scattered and then became lax, and then God took away the temple...mercifully replacing it with the perfect temple: Jesus, our Christ!

The eight major feasts, like virtually everything else Old Testament, correspond to events in the life of Christ and to spiritual events in the life of believers. Whole sections of the New Testament cannot be fully understood without knowing what was going on during the feasts. Many books and passages in the Old Testament were read only on feast days. The feasts are keys to biblical exegesis, but for various historical reasons, christian religion has tended to place its own private interpretation on scripture, in many cases clouding the true meaning, and diminishing the power and enormity of what Jesus fulfilled.

The second temple was destroyed in 70 AD by Titus, which made it impossible to keep the law and the feasts properly. Nevertheless, Christians celebrated the feasts (imperfectly) until the time of Roman Emperor Hadrian when, in 132 AD the Jews made one final attempt to oust the Romans from Palestine. When this rebellion was crushed in 135 AD, Hadrian forbade the reading of Torah and the celebration of these feasts throughout the empire, and persecuted the Jews. It was at this point that the church began to cut its ties to things Jewish, eventually neglecting the Saturday Sabbath for a Sunday celebration, adopting rituals from pagan sources to celebrate Christmas and other holidays, and co-opting the fertility rites of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar (Easter) to mark His death and resurrection.

In Leviticus 23, God says that He gave us these special times. Through study aided by insight from historians, the Jewish oral law in the Talmud, and the Jewish mystical tradition recorded in the Kaballah, I have joined others in revitalizing, by the grace of God, the lost links between the Jewish feasts, the New Testament and the life of the Spirit.

A brief summary of the feasts follows:

FAST OF ESTHER and PURIM: This feast celebrates the Bride (the Church) being redeemed from the slave market of “religion” so that she can be betrothed to Christ on the Feast of Passover. All temple activity stopped for the reading of the Book of Esther. This is a day of friendship and joy, and the celebration of God at work, behind the scenes (God is not mentioned even once in Esther), and a turning from our own false perception of “Good” and “Bad”.

UNLEAVENED BREAD, PASSOVER and FIRST FRUITS: Celebrated to remember the “bread of affliction” in Egypt. Christ was buried during this seven-day observance. In the Passover seder, unleavened bread represents Christ’s body, which is our sustenance. This feast pictures the Israelites being “passed over” by the death angel and their escape from Egypt. Christ was crucified on Passover, and He is the Lamb sacrificed and eaten in the “Seder” meal that became the Lord’s Supper. The meaning of all the feasts is combined in Passover. On FIRST FRUITS, the first sheaf of grain from the fields was offered to God. Christ was resurrected on this day, and it represents Christ’s resurrection in the hearts of believers.

PENTECOST: It is always connected with the ascension of Sinai by Moses and the giving of the Law, as well as the Shekinah glory filling the Temple. Christ poured out His Spirit on all flesh during this feast after His ascension to the Father, so the Law could be written in the hearts of believers, and the glory of God takes full residence there.

FAST OF AB: Days of mourning when lots of bad things happen. It is a three-week period ending with the fast. It is a time when our Jerusalem comes to the end of its purpose, and our idolatry is exposed and destroyed.

ROSH HASHANAH: The feast of Trumpets marking the creation of the world and of the new year. Scholars have pinpointed this as the time when Christ was born, celebrated as the new birth of believers.

YOM KIPPUR: The Day of Atonement, a time of great repentance. Christ was baptized by John the Baptist while this feast was being observed; corresponds to the baptism of a believer. As the high priest was sending the scapegoat into the wilderness to remove the consciousness of sin from Israel, John saw Christ and said, “Behold the lamb (goat) of God who taketh away the sin of the world.”

TABERNACLES: The last feast of the year and the season of weddings, marked by burning massive lamps, ceremonies mixing wine and water. Christ turned the water into wine on one Tabernacles feast, was transfigured on another, and identified Himself as the light of the world and the living water during His last. It represents the transformation of the believer’s mind to understand he is “seated in the heavenlies” and outside the bands of time. The feast also marks the end of time itself and the marriage supper of the Lamb.

HANUKKAH: The festival of lights and feast of dedication of the Temple. Christ was announced and conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary; Christ is conceived in each believer. The single day’s supply of oil for the temple lamp lasted 8 days...the number of completeness and perfection!

THE SABBATH: The day of rest from labor. Christ was the only one to ever keep the Sabbath completely, which He did at rest in the grave. Believers do so by “reckoning themselves dead, living only through the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


The Hebrew Calendar

The Jewish calendar is tied to the lunar cycle (29½ days), instead of the sun (365¼ days).

The Jewish calendar loses about 11 days relative to the solar calendar every year, but makes up for it by adding a month every two or three years.

As a result, the holidays don't always fall on the same day, but they always fall within the same month or two.

Hebrew Month

Days

Corresponding Secular Months

Feasts or Special Days

Nissan

30

March-April

Passover

Iyar

29

April-May

Lag B'Omer

Sivan

30

May-June

Savuout (Pentecost)

Tammuz

29

June-July

Fast of Tammuz

Menachem Av

30

July-August

Tisha B'Av (Fast of Ab)

Elul

29

August-September

Tishrei

30

September-October

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah

Mar Cheshvan

29 or 30

October-November

Reserved for Messiah!

Kislev

29 or 30

November-December

Chanukah

Tevet

29

December-January

Conclusion of Chanukah

Shevat

30

January-February

Tu B'Shvat

Adar

29 (30 in Leap Years)

February-March

Purim


Summary

Nissan is the first month on the Jewish calendar (above). Before the Jews left Egypt, on the first day of the month of Nissan, God told Moses and Aaron: “This chodesh (new moon, or month) shall be to you the head of months.” (Exodus 12:1-2) Thus the peculiarity of the Jewish calendar: the year begins on Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the month of Tishrei (the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, and the birthday of Christ, the final Adam), but Tishrei is not the first month. Rosh Hashanah is actually referred to in the Torah as “the first day of the seventh month.” Seven signifies completion…much symbolism here.

Sanctification of the New Month by the Sanhedrin (70)

On the 30th day of every month, the Sanhedrin would “open for business” in a large courtyard in Jerusalem called Beit Ya’azek. Witnesses who claimed to have seen the new moon on the previous night would come to give their testimony and be cross-examined.

The members of the Sanhedrin knew astronomy, and knew exactly when the new moon would have appeared, and where it would have been visible. Nevertheless, the sanctification of the moon depends on the crescent new moon actually being seen by two witnesses.

The rabbis of the Sanhedrin would question the witnesses in the order of their arrival. They knew what the proper responses to their questions ought to be, and were thus quickly able to identify fraudulent claims. Starting with the elder of each pair, they would ask: “Tell us how you saw the moon:
- In which direction was it in relation to the sun?
- Was it to the north or south?
- How high in the sky did the moon appear to be?
- In which direction were the crescent’s tips facing?
- How wide was it?”

After they had finished questioning the first witness, they would bring in his partner and question him in similar fashion. If the two accounts corroborated, the evidence was accepted.

That day, the thirtieth day, was then declared Rosh Chodesh of the new month. The head of the Sanhedrin would proclaim: “Mekudash!” (“Sanctified!”) and everyone would respond, “Mekudash! Mekudash!” The previous month was now retroactively determined to have had only twenty-nine days.

Publicizing the New Month

The following night (the second night of the month), huge bonfires were lit on designated mountaintops. Lookouts stationed on other mountaintops would see that a fire had been lit, and would light their own fires. This chain of communication led all the way to Babylonia, so that even very distant communities knew that the day beforehand had been declared Rosh Chodesh.

Eventually, the Sadducees started lighting fires on the wrong days in order to manipulate the calendar. To prevent this confusion, the fire-on-mountaintop method of communication was discontinued, and instead messengers were dispatched to Babylonia and all other far-flung Jewish settlements. This took a lot longer, a delay which had, and still has halachic (Jewish laws) implications with regard to observance of the second day of holidays in the Diaspora (scattered population).

**The 30-Day Month **

If no witnesses came on the thirtieth day—either because the moon had not been “reborn” yet, or because it was not visible—then the next day, the thirty-first day, was automatically declared Rosh Chodesh, retroactively rendering the previous month a malei month (30-day month).

Members of the Sanhedrin would go to a highly visible location, where they would partake in a celebratory meal to signify the new month. No fires were lit that night. The new month is always either on the 30th or 31st day; if they hadn’t lit fires the night before, it was understood that the new month started on the 31st day.

Meaning (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

In its account of the creation of the universe, the Torah speaks of “the two great luminaries” created by God to shed light upon the earth and to set “the signs, times, days and years” of life on earth. In the very same verse, however, the two great luminaries become “the great luminary to rule the day, and the small luminary to rule the night.” The Talmud explains: initially, the sun and moon were indeed two great luminaries, equal in size and luminescence. But the moon objected that “two kings cannot share the same crown.” So G‑d commanded it: “Go, diminish yourself.”

Thus was born the month. For not only was the moon reduced to a pale reflector of another’s light, it was further diminished in that its illumination of the earth would be curtailed by the constant changes in its juxtaposition with the source and the recipient of its light. For two weeks of each month, the moon faithfully fulfills the divine decree, “Go, diminish yourself,” steadily reducing itself to the point in which it is completely enveloped in darkness.

These repeated diminutions are what yield the unique qualities of lunar time. Living with the moon, we learn how darkness can give birth to light, and how absence can generate renewed presence. We learn to exploit the momentum of our descents to scale new and unprecedented heights—heights which could never be anticipated by an unvarying “solar” path through life.

On a deeper level, the injunction “Go, diminish yourself” relates to the very essence of our humanity. Man is unique among God’s creations in that he alone is a mehalech, a “goer” or journeyer through life. All other creations, including the loftiest of spiritual beings (and this includes the soul of man prior to its investiture in a physical body) are omdim, stationary “standers.” A “stander” is not necessarily immobile; indeed, all things possess, to some degree or other, the potential for development and advancement. But all creations move in a “solar” orbit—an orbit defined by preordained limits which it cannot transcend. Only the human being is lunar, with a trajectory through life that includes both growth and decline, obliteration and rebirth.

For man alone possesses the power (or illusion) of free choice—a power as potent as it is lethal, as infinite as it is constricting. With free choice comes the capacity for utter self-destruction, and the capacity for utter self-transformation. Man has the power to negate everything he is and stands for, and in the next moment, to recreate himself in a new mold and embark on a path that his prior existence could never have anticipated.

“Go, diminish yourself” is the Creator’s perpetual injunction to His lunar creation. For it is only by diminishing itself that the human soul can “go.” Only by making itself vulnerable to the mortality and pitfalls of the physical state can the soul of man become a “goer,” a being with the power to make of itself more than it is.

Because of confusion about the calendar, an extra day was added to some holidays in ancient times. Now, some branches of Judaism have abandoned this custom, returning the holidays to the length specified in the Bible. Other branches continue the ancient tradition of adding a day to certain holidays. Thus for some Jews, Thursday is a holiday but Friday is not, while for others, both Thursday and Friday are holidays.

In the 4th century CE, the sage Hillel II foresaw the disbandment of the Sanhedrin, and understood that we would no longer be able to follow a Sanhedrin-based calendar. So Hillel and his rabbinical court established the perpetual calendar which is followed today.

According to this calendar, every month of the year, except for three, has a set number of days (see the “Modern Days” column in the grid above).

Regarding the variable months of Kislev and Cheshvan, there are three options: 1) Both can be 29 days (the year is chaser), 2) both are 30 (the year is malei), or 3) Cheshvan is 29 and Kislev is 30 (the year is k’sidran, meaning these two months follow the alternating pattern of the rest of the months). Hillel also established the rules that are used to determine whether a year is chaser, malei, or k’sidran.

The rules of the perpetual calendar also ensure that the first day of Rosh Hashanah will never take place on Sunday, Wednesday or Friday.

When Hillel established the perpetual calendar, he sanctified every Rosh Chodesh until Moshiach (Messiah) will come and reestablish the Sanhedrin.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that a Jewish "day" starts at sunset, and holidays start the evening before the day on our secular calendar. For example, if your calendar says that Passover starts on April 24, families will be getting together for Passover dinner on the night of April 23. A few secular calendars mark the preceding day as "Erev Passover," which basically means Passover Eve. If your calendar says "Erev" or "Eve" before a holiday name, it means the holiday starts the evening of that day and continues into the next day.


Description of the Months

1) Nissan (portions from http://www.chabad.org) The first month of the Hebrew calendar (according to the Torah), coincides with March-April on the civil calendar. The Torah calls it chodesh ha-aviv—the month of spring, as it marks the beginning of the spring months.

On the first day of Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), two weeks before the Exodus, God showed Moses the crescent new moon, instructing him regarding the setting of the Jewish calendar and the mitzvah of sanctifying the new month. “This month shall be for you the head of months, the first of the months of the year” (Exodus 12:2). This ushered in the first Jewish month, and commenced the lunar calendar that Jews have been following ever since. It was the first mitzvah (commandment) given to the newly born nation of Israel, even before the exodus from Egypt.

It is in this month that we celebrate the eight-day holiday of Passover, from the 15th through the 22nd of Nissan. It commemorates the Jewish people’s miraculous redemption from slavery in Egypt.

It took seven weeks—forty-nine days—from when the Jewish people left Egypt on Passover until they received the Torah from God at the foot of Mount Sinai, celebrated today as the holiday of Shavuot (the Festival of Weeks). It is explained that the 49 days that connect Passover with Shavuot correspond to the 49 drives and traits of the human heart. Each day saw the refinement of one of these sefirot (traits), bringing the people of Israel one step closer to spiritual perfection. Each year, we retrace this inner journey with our “counting of the Omer”. Beginning on the second night of Passover, we count the days and weeks to the holiday of Shavuot.

A special mitzvah which can be fulfilled only once a year—anytime during the month of Nissan—is to recite the berachah (“blessing” or prayer) made upon seeing a fruit tree in bloom. Many people visit botanical gardens during this time, so as to avail themselves of an opportunity to observe this beautiful mitzvah.

It is mentioned in the Talmud that according to one tradition, the three patriarchs of the Jewish people—Abraham (1948–2123 from creation, 1813–1638 BCE), Isaac (2048–2228 from creation, 1713–1533 BCE) and Jacob (2108–2255 from creation, 1653–1506 BCE)—all were born and passed away in the month of Nissan.

2) Iyar (portions from http://www.chabad.org).

Shortly after the Exodus, the thirsty Israelites reached a well of bitter water. Moses cast a tree into the water, and it miraculously became sweet. God then promised that if Israel followed His ways, “the diseases I have placed on Egypt I will not place upon you, for I am God your Healer.” The acronym for this last phrase spells out the name of the month of Iyar, and Jews believe that Iyar is a propitious time for healing.

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

The 14th day of Iyar is Pesach Sheni, “the second Passover.” The Torah describes how God created this holiday at the request of those who, for reasons beyond their control, were unable to offer the paschal sacrifice in its proper time. One month later, they received a second chance. Pesach Sheni reminds us that it’s never too late. With sincere effort, yesterday’s missed opportunity can become today’s achievement.

The 33rd day of the Omer (18 Iyar), known as Lag BaOmer, marks the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, the basic work of Kabbalah. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai instructed his disciples to mark the date as “the day of my joy,” the moment when his life’s work reached its culmination. In fulfillment of this request, Lag BaOmer is celebrated as a mini-holiday, with outings, bonfires and other festivities.

According to tradition, a plague afflicting many students of the great sage Rabbi Akiva ceased on Lag BaOmer. Thus, this date is a celebratory day, on which joyous activities that are forbidden during the rest of the Omer period are permitted. These activities include weddings, picnics and haircuts. Since the plague came about due to their lack of proper respect for one another, this day is thought to mark an increase in Jewish unity.

3) Sivan (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

Rosh Chodesh (the first day of) Sivan is distinguished as the day on which the Jewish people arrived and camped before Mount Sinai.

The Torah describes this with the phrase “Israel camped before the mountain” (Exodus 19:2), where the verb vayichan (“camped”) is stated in a singular form, in contrast to the other verbs in the narrative. This describes how the entire people camped “as one person, with one heart,” expressing true unity.

In the month of Sivan, we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, when the Torah was given by God to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai more than 3300 years ago. Every year on the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost) we renew our acceptance of God’s gift, and God “re-gives” the Torah.

The holiday of Shavuot is a two-day holiday, beginning at sundown of the 5th of Sivan and lasting until nightfall of the 7th of Sivan. (In Israel it is a one-day holiday, ending at nightfall of the 6th of Sivan).

The word shavuot means “weeks.” It marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot. The mitzvah to count each of the forty-nine days between Passover and Shavuot—known as Sefirat HaOmer—is a period of introspection and self-refinement, as we prepare ourselves to receive the Torah anew on Shavuot. Each day of counting represents another step in this spiritual journey.

The giving of the Torah was a far-reaching spiritual event—one that touched the essence of the Jewish soul for all times. Our sages have compared it to a wedding between God and the Jewish people.

Shavuot also means “oaths,” for on this day God swore eternal devotion to us, and we in turn pledged everlasting loyalty to Him. In light of the shedding of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the true fulfillment of the Torah (law) is freedom and presence of God’s third part within us….mind-blowing stuff!

4) Tammuz (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

The month of Tammuz begins the “season” of the summer. The three months of this season are Tammuz, Av and Elul.

The 17th day of Tammuz—a fast day that commemorates the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans (in 69 CE)—marks the beginning of a period known as the Three Weeks. This is an annual mourning period when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and the cause of our current ongoing exile. It reaches its climax and concludes with the fast of the 9th of Av, the date when both Holy Temples were set aflame (423 BCE and 69 CE respectively). Because of this and numerous other tragedies that occurred throughout our history during this period, we lessen the extent of our rejoicing during the Three Weeks.

Why the excessive mourning, for over 2,000 years?

God is our father, and we are His children. And during galut (exile), we constitute a dysfunctional family. We have been expelled from our Father’s home, and our relationship is strained—but this is certainly not the way the relationship should be, and this wasn’t always the case. There was a time when we were coddled by our Father’s embrace. His love for us manifested itself in many forms, including: miracles, prophets, abundant blessings and a land flowing with milk and honey. At the center of our relationship was the Holy Temple, God’s home where He literally dwelt amongst His people, where His presence was tangible.

All the suffering which has been our lot since the day the Temple was destroyed is a result of our exiled state. This is why we mourn the destruction of the Temples. We believe with perfect faith and pray that the day is near when we will be returned to our Father’s home, and once again feel His love. We look forward to a brighter future, when the world will finally reach the culmination of its purpose and be infused with everlasting peace and goodness.

5) Menachem Av (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

The name of the eleventh month on the Jewish calendar, Av, literally means “father.” It is customary to add the name Menachem, which means “comforter” or “consoler”. Av is the month in which both Holy Temples were set aflame (423 BCE and 69 CE respectively) and destroyed, and many other tragedies occurred in Jewish history. At this time, it is easy for us to feel deserted, lost and alone, yet we are taught that our Father in heaven is there to comfort and console us.

Av on one hand has a “low point” of the Jewish calendar—the 9th of Av, the day of the sin of the spies and the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. On the other hand, it also incorporates a “high point”: the 15th of Av, a day designated for finding one’s predestined soulmate, is considered one of the happiest days on the Jewish calendar.

May we speedily merit the ultimate redemption, when days of sorrow will be turned to days of joy, and we will celebrate once again in our holy Temple in Jerusalem.

6) Elul (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

Elul connects the past year with the coming year—a time when we reflect on where we stand and where we should be going.

It is called “the month of repentance,” “the month of mercy” and “the month of forgiveness.” Elul follows the two previous months of Tammuz and Av—months of tragedies which were brought upon us through our sins. In Tammuz the Jews sinned with the golden calf; on Rosh Chodesh Elul, Moses ascended to Mt. Sinai for a third forty-day period until Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), when he descended with the second tablets (luchot) and God’s word of joyful, wholehearted forgiveness. (The first time Moses ascended was to receive the first tablets; the second time was after the sin, to ask for forgiveness; and this third time was to receive the second set of tablets.) These were days when God revealed to the Jewish people great mercy. Since then, this time has been designated as a time of mercy and forgiveness, an opportune time for teshuvah—repentance.

The four letters of the name Elul are an acronym for the phrase in Song of Songs (6:3): “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” “I am to my beloved”—we approach God with a desire to return and connect. “And my beloved is to me”—God reciprocates with divine expressions of mercy and forgiveness.

This is the month when “the King is in the field.” God, the King of all Kings, is accessible. All can approach Him, and He shines His countenance to all.

7) Tishrei (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

Titter bridges the summer and autumn months. It is a time for renewal and introspection as we begin a new year.

The month of Tishrei is full of momentous and meaningful days of celebration. Beginning with the High Holidays, in this month we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Ten Days of Repentance, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Each one is filled with its own meaningful customs and rituals. Some are serious, awesome days set aside for reflection and soul-searching. Some are joyous days full of happy and cheerful celebration.

But all of these days, throughout the month of Tishrei, are opportunities to connect, be inspired and become more fulfilled and in tune with our true inner selves. Tishrei is considered the “head” of the year and the reservoir from which we draw our strength and inspiration throughout the year ahead. Take advantage of the opportunities in this month, and make every day significant. May it be a year of happiness, health, peace and prosperity.

8) Mar Cheshvan (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

Cheshvan is the only month that does not have any holidays or special mitzvot. We are taught that it is “reserved” for the time of Messiah, who will inaugurate the Third Temple in the month of Cheshvan.

The great flood in the days of Noah began in this month, and it was a year later, also in the month of Cheshvan, that Noah left the ark.

In the month of Cheshvan we commemorate the yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing) of Rachel. She is buried on the road to Beit Lechem, where throughout the ages, and still today, Jews of all walks of life go to pray and beseech that she intercede on their behalf as a mother does for her child.

This month is the anticlimax of the previous month of Tishrei. With so many holidays and spiritual experiences, it was a feast for the soul—a vacation of sorts. Now, as we enter the month of Cheshvan, real life begins, back to the daily “mundane” grind. This is the time to take the inspiration and all that we gained in the month of Tishrei and integrate it into our lives, learning how to balance the spiritual and the physical elements of our life in unison and harmony.
9) Kislev (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

It is best known for the holiday of Chanukah, which begins Kislev 25th. The message of Chanukah is the eternal power of light over darkness—good over evil. Aside from commemorating the miraculous victory of the small and militarily weak Jewish army over the mighty Syrian-Greek empire, on Chanukah we celebrate the miracle of the oil. When the Jews sought to light the Temple menorah after the war, they found only one small jug of oil that had not been defiled by the pagan invaders. Miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new pure oil could be obtained. In commemoration, the sages instituted the eight-day festival of Chanukah, on which we kindle the menorah nightly to recall and publicize the miracle.

This is also the day the Holy Spirit fell on Mary, and she conceived our Savior, Jesus!

10) Tevet (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

Its name—which is mentioned in the Book of Esther—was acquired in Babylonia, and shares a root with the Hebrew word tov, good.

This month begins with the last days of Chanukah. By internalizing the message of the ever-increasing lights of the menorah—reminding us of the power of good over evil—we are able to reveal the good which is hidden in our lives and in the world around us.

The 10th of Tevet is a fast day, commemorating the start of the siege of Jerusalem in the year 3336 (425 BCE), which led to the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) three and a half years later on the 9th of Av.

On a fast day, the divine attribute of mercy is able to be drawn down into this world. By fasting over the destruction of the Temple, one “sweetens” G‑d’s anger with Israel, the cause of the destruction. Our sages explain, “Every generation for which the Temple is not rebuilt, is as though the Temple was destroyed for that generation.” As such, a fast day is not really a sad day, but an opportune day. It’s a day when we are empowered to fix the cause of that first destruction, so that our long exile will end and we will find ourselves living in messianic times—may that be very soon.

11) Shevat (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

The high point of the month is the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, known as the “New Year for Trees.” This is the day when the sap begins to rise in the fruit trees in Israel—the start of a new growing season.

Tu B’Shevat holds legal significance in Jewish law with regards to the tithing of fruit in Israel, but it’s also celebrated with joy as we look forward to the sweet bounty of the coming year. We mark the day by eating fruit, particularly from the ”Seven Kinds” that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the Holy Land (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates). On this day we remember that “Man is a tree of the field,” and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our botanical analogue.

Shevat contains two important dates on the chassidic calendar. The 10th of Shevat marks the anniversary of the passing, in 1950, of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of righteous memory. On the same date, exactly one year later, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, assumed the mantle of leadership and became the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe. The 22nd of Shevat is the anniversary of the passing, in 1988, of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson.

12) Adar (portions from http://www.chabad.org)

“When Adar enters, joy increases,” the Talmud tells us. Most months on the Hebrew calendar contain special days, but Adar is itself a special time.

The joy reaches its climax on the 14th of the month, as we celebrate Mordechai and Esther’s triumph over the wicked Haman. Upon close inspection, the “miracle of Purim” appears somewhat unmiraculous. No sea was split, no oil burned for eight days and nights—rather, it seems, the Jews were saved through a series of fortuitous coincidences. The salvation may have come through political maneuvering and other natural means, but God’s hand was behind it all, our sages explain.

The spirit of Purim permeates the entire month, making it a time of unparalleled rejoicing and good mazal (fortune) for the Jewish people.

During a leap year on the Jewish calendar, which occurs 7 times in a 19-year cycle (approximately once every three years), the Jewish calendar has 13 months instead of the regular 12. The added month is called “Adar I,” and is inserted before this month of Adar (termed “Adar II” in leap years). The additional month aligns the lunar months with the solar year, ensuring that the holidays fall in the proper seasons.