Oftentimes Cheshvan is referred to as the bitter month, Mar-Cheshvan, since there are no holidays or specific mizvot/deeds to fulfill. But this idea of bitterness is actually an illusion. The truth of the matter is that Cheshvan is the 8th month of the year and, according to our rabbis, the number 8 is actually a symbol of that which is beyond the physical world. There are no actions to take in the number 8 because this is a month that is beyond physical action. It is a hidden time of spiritual renewal. After the preparation in the 6th month of Elul leading up to the 7th month of Tishrei and its intense spiritual work, the 8th month becomes a time of absorption: a time where we appear more focused on the physical world. Who could blame us, after 4 weeks of holidays? But if we were to truly dig deeper we might notice the spiritual dormancy that lies beneath.
It is the beginning of the darkest part of the year. It appears as a time of death, but actually it is the appearance of death that brings forth new life. Ultimately this is a moment of hiddenness where physical appearances fail us and we must literally dig deeper into the earth to notice the activity that is happening.
It is no surprise that this month brings with it water, the water of Noah and the prayer for rain. Water in our tradition symbolizes the flow of God’s love. Although Noah’s waters appear as destruction, they are also, and maybe even more importantly, the waters of rebirth. This water is God’s overflowing love that waters the seeds of our spiritual selves that lay in the depths of our being, preparing to birthe into our renewed selves for this coming year.
The number 8 and the month of Cheshvan is the time dormancy in preperation of new birth, so please take a moment now to think about what is birthing in your life.- What appears dormant on the surface but is actually doing the deep work to manifest who you really are in your deepest self?
Be Lost in the Call
Lord, said David, since you do not need us,
why did you create these two worlds?
Reality replied: O prisoner of time,
I was a secret treasure of kindness and generosity,
and I wished this treasure to be known,
so I created a mirror: its shining face, the heart;
its darkened back, the world;
The back would please you if you've never seen the face.
Has anyone ever produced a mirror out of mud and straw?
Yet clean away the mud and straw,
and a mirror might be revealed.
Until the juice ferments a while in the cask,
it isn't wine. If you wish your heart to be bright,
you must do a little work.
My King addressed the soul of my flesh:
You return just as you left.
Where are the traces of my gifts?...
...Remember God so much that you are forgotten.
Let the caller and the called disappear;
be lost in the Call.
"Love is a Stranger", Kabir Helminski