Binyamin and Kislev
The 24th of Cheshvan is the Yahrtzeit of Binyamin son of Yaakov Avinu. As we approach Rosh Chodesh Kislev, the month of Binyamin (Kitvei Ha’Ari) we honor the youngest of the Shivtei Ka with this selection from the Shem Mishmuel Rosh Chodesh Kislev):
‘Kislev’ is derived from ‘kesel kesilim’ (Ecclesiastes) – foolishness – which is also used in the Bible to describe the kidneys, the home of the spiritual root of desire.
(The kidneys process and separate poisons from the body. Desire is rooted in them so we can process our desires and separate between healthy and dangerous desires.)
The Talmud (Yoma 12a) associates Binyamin with desire: What lay in the lot of Judah? The Temple mount, the cells, the courts. And what lay in the lot of Benjamin? The Hall, the Temple8 and the Holy of Holies. And a strip of land went forth from Judah’s lot and went into Benjamin’s territory, and on this the Temple was built — Benjamin the Righteous was longing to swallow it every day as it is written: “He covets him all day,” (Deuteronomy 33:12) therefore he obtained the privilege of becoming the host of the Omnipotent, as it is said: “And He dwells between his shoulders.”
This connects with the Sefer Yetzirah (5:9): He made the letter ‘Samech’ king over sleep, and He bound a crown to it. And He combined one with another, and with them He formed Sagittarius in the Universe, Kislev in the year, and the Kivah in the Soul, male and female.
My father, continues the Shem Mishmuel, explained that the twelve Hebrew months of the year correspond to the 12 constellations. The twelve sons of Yaakov each represent one month and constellation. The constellations reflect that which is set and predetermined. The twelve sons of Yaakov empower us to overcome Mazal and create a more dynamic relationship with God.
The opposite of desire is laziness, symbolized by sleep in the above selection of the Sefer Yetzirah. Binyamin strengthens us to transform laziness into desire, specifically the desire to act and accomplish as a warrior, symbolized by the bow.