Shimon: Tribe of Av

Shimon, also known as Simon and Simeon, is the second son of Jacob and Leah. His name alludes to the word for “hearing” in Hebrew, as Leah said in Genesis 29, “because the LORD hath heard that I am hated, He hath therefore given me this son also.” His story is often one of the wielding…

Issachar: Tribe of Iyyar

Issachar is the tribe associated with the month of Iyyar, which generally falls between April and May. What does the name Issachar (יִשָּׂשׁכָר) bring to mind?  Anything? Do any famous stories from the Torah come to mind?  Probably not, yet Issachar holds a special place in Jewish tradition. Issachar was the 5th son of Jacob and Leah,…

Judah: Tribe of Nisan

Judah (יְהוּדָה), associated with the month of Nisan (נִיסָן), is the fourth son of Leah and Jacob.  In Judaism the number four, the letter Dalet (ד), represents doorways. There are also four new years in Judaism, and the Nisan is the first — the doorway (הדלת) to the year.  Considering the number of fours found in the…

Dinah: Tribe of Adar I

Adar I (אֲדָר א) is Dinah’s (דִּינָה) month, at least as far as I’m concerned.  Rabbinical tradition equates Naphtali with both Adar I & Adar II in a leap year, but many modern feminists have argued well that the extra month should belong to Jacob’s daughter, the 13th tribe.   To be honest, I’ve really…

Dan: Tribe of Tevet

How do we know the difference between good and bad judgment?  How do we know the choices we make are the right ones?  What do we allow to influence us?  What we do allow to blur our vision?  What do we use to clear our eyes, our hearts, and our minds to turn back to…

Benjamin: Tribe of Kislev

Kislev (כִּסְלֵו) is called the month of dreams because nine of the ten dreams explicitly mentioned in the Torah occur in the Torah portions of Kislev (Inner.org), which explains why Kohenet associates Kislev with the Baalot Ov (בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב)– but what does that have to do with Benjamin?   Benjamin is the last son of Jacob and the only full brother…

Naphtali: Tribe of Adar II

Naphtali is the second son of Jacob and Bilah, a handmaiden of Rachel. His name, as relayed in Genesis 30:8 means, “ And Rachel said: ‘With mighty wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed.’ And she called his name Naphtali.”  When I read this, I immediately went to check and see if this was the…

Asher: Tribe of Shevat

Asher was the eighth son of Jacob through Leah’s handmaid, Zilpah.  According to the Torah, midrash and rabbinical tradition Asher is a symbol of happiness.  There seems to be fairly strong consensus on this.   From his naming (Genesis 30:13) to his final blessing from Yisrael (Genesis 49:20) – Asher was blessed with happiness. “And Leah…

Gad: Tribe of Elul

Gad (גָּד), the patriarch and tribe associated with the month of Elul (אֱלוּל), is the seventh son of Jacob. Seven is a lucky number in many cultures, Judaism included, and not only is he the seventh son, but he also fathers seven sons. He is of the line of Leah, through Zilpah. Gad’s name means “good fortune,”…

Menasheh: Tribe of Cheshvan

The tribe of Cheshvan is Menasheh (מְנַשֶׁה), the first-born but officially second son of Joseph.  That means the first two months of the spiritual year (Tishrei and Cheshvan) make up the “House of Joseph” in the Jewish Wheel of the Year.  Joseph is generally not counted in the listing of the tribes, because his birthright was passed to his sons…