Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan

This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Yitzchak ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah for her neshama. 

About the month of Cheshvan. Also called Marcheshvan, this is the 8th month, when counting from Nissan. Eight is a number that is beyond nature (seven being a number of completion in Judaism, think 7 days in a week, 7 years in a shmitta cycle, etc.), therefore this month is associated with the coming of the Moshiach - an idea that is beyond the norms of what most people expect. Eight months from the beginning of spring means we are winding down the fall season. In Israel we have begun the rainy season (ideally). There is a custom to wait until Sukkot is over to begin adding the blessing for rain in the daily Amida prayers. In this spirit, the month is associated with the historic Flood of Noach's time - the מבול which began on the 17th of Cheshvan and ended a year later on the 27th. The following day, the 28th, G-d brought out the first Rainbow, a sign that He will never destroy the earth in this way again.

The mazel, sign, of the month is Scorpio, or a scorpion. In Hebrew it's called an עקרב which is related to the word עקב which means heel. The scorpion is synonymous with the snake in mystical thinking, and therefore is representative of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, which led to man's downfall. Interestingly, the sense for this month is smell - the only of the five sense that wasn't corrupted by the sin of eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden.

The tribe of the month is Menashe מנשה whose letters rearraged spell נשמה or soul. They also contain the root משה or Moshe - who redeemed the Jews from slavery in Egypt and משנה Mishna, which is the canonization of Jewish oral law. Much can be said about the connection between these three words and this month, but we will leave you with one idea: that through the study of Torah, given to us by Moshe, our neshamot are able to thrive, even in exile for thousands of years.

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