1. Tevet Is in the Winter

The 10th month on the Jewish calendar, Tevet occurs in the wintertime. In fact, the entire winter season is sometimes called tekufat (season of) Tevet in Jewish tradition.

2. Tevet Always Has 29 Days

The two months preceding Tevet (Cheshvan and Kislev) can each have either 29 or 30 days, depending on the year. From Tevet and onward, things are simple. Tevet has 29 and Shevat has 30, establishing a pattern of alternating months that continues for the rest of the year.

3. Chanukah Bleeds into Tevet

An ice menorah, standing solid in front of Chabad of Midtown Manhattan.
An ice menorah, standing solid in front of Chabad of Midtown Manhattan.

Chanukah begins on 25 Kislev and continues for 8 days. This means that the final few days of Chanukah extend into Tevet, an otherwise dreary and ordinary month. In the event that the first day of Tevet is on Shabbat, this Shabbat is one of the few times when three Torah scrolls are removed from the ark during morning services. The Torah portion of the week (Mikeitz) is read from one scroll, the Rosh Chodesh reading is read from the second, and the Chanukah portion is read from the third. The Grace After Meals for that Shabbat (which includes additions for Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and Chanukah) is also the longest of the year.

4. Esther Was Taken to the Palace

In the book of Esther we read that Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus’s palace “in the 10th month, which is the month of Tevet.”1 The Talmud explains that the month of Tevet was a particularly opportune time, since the cold causes “the body to take pleasure from the body [of another].”2

Discover the inner meaning of this teaching

5. The Siege of Jerusalem Began

Even before it got the name Tevet, when it was known simply as the tenth month, this was a significant time in Jewish history: “In the 10th month, on the 10th of the month, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, came—he and his entire army—against Jerusalem, and encamped against it, and they built siege works around it.”3

Learn more about this siege and its lasting significance

6. The 10th Day of the Month Is a Fast Day

The book of Zechariah tells us that four fast days will become days of “joy and gladness and good festivals” in the era of Moshiach, including “the fast of the 10th,” a reference to the 10th day of Tevet (the 10th month). On this day Jewish people mourn the destruction of Jerusalem, the result of the siege which began on that day. From daybreak to nightfall no food or drink is consumed, and extra prayers are recited.

What Is 10 Tevet, and How Is It Observed?

7. Two Other Tragic Events Happened As Well

A section of an ancient Greek rendering of the Book of Esther.
A section of an ancient Greek rendering of the Book of Esther.

Tradition tells us that the fast of 10 Tevet commemorates two other tragic events.

On 8 Tevet, at the behest of Ptolemy of Egypt, the Torah was translated into Greek, marking a sharp decline of Jewish spirituality, the Torah now perceived as just another book of wisdom in Ptolemy’s great library.

9 Tevet is the yahrtzeit of Ezra the Scribe, the spiritual leader of the Jews who returned to the Land of Israel from Babylonia and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem. The death of this great leader, who left an indelible mark on Jewish life and observance, was deeply mourned.

Yet a single fast was declared for all three events, so that the month would not be full of sadness and mourning.

Learn more about Ezra the Scribe

8. Agents Were Not Dispatched from Jerusalem

In Temple times, at the start of every Jewish month that contained a holiday, agents were dispatched from Jerusalem to notify the Jewish people in every community of when the month had begun, so that they would know when to observe the holiday. But no runners were sent out at the start of Tevet. Since the fast would one day be abolished, it was not considered binding at that time, and did not warrant special notification.4

Learn more about the start of the Jewish month

9. Tevet Is Babylonian

The name “Tevet” was adopted by the Jewish people during the Babylonian exile.5 It is believed to connote “sinking” or “immersing.” This is possibly related to the fact that the heavy winter rainfall turns much of the Middle East into a muddy swamp at this time of year.

Learn why the Jewish months have Babylonian names

10. The Mazal of Tevet Is the Goat

Every Jewish month is associated with the zodiac symbol which is dominant at that time. The symbol of Tevet is the gedi (goat, Capricorn).

Watch: The Kabbalah of the Zodiac of Tevet

11. 5 Tevet Is Special in Chabad

The 5th day of Tevet is marked with celebrations in Chabad, as it is the date when a U.S. federal judge ruled that the extensive library left by the sixth Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, of righteous memory, belonged to the community, recognizing the extraordinary nature of a rebbe as a communal figure.

Read up on the events and significance of this day

The 24th day of Tevet is also significant in Chabad. It is the anniversary of the passing of the Alter Rebbe, the first Chabad rebbe, in 1812.

Learn more about the Alter Rebbe