Elevated Cheshvan - Let the Blessings Rain Down!:
This week, Sunday and Monday , is Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the Jewish month of) Cheshvan. This month is referred to as "Mar Cheshvan" by our Rabbis. While "Mar" does mean "bitter" in Hebrew, and some people think Cheshvan could be a bitter month for its lack of holidays... in Aramaic, the language of the Talmud, "Mar" actually means "Rainy" - the Rabbis referred to this month as the one in which blessed rain begins to fall in the Holy Land! On Shemini Atzeres, we began to pray for rain. So for now until Pesach, we add in the second blessing of the Amidah which acknowledges the strength of HaShem, that HaShem is "Mashiv HaRuach UMorid HaGeshem" - "the One Who Causes the Wind to Blow and the Rain to Come Down". This is an appropriate thing to acknowledge at the beginning of the fall season - which Sukkos and Shemini Atezeres mark - since the success of the crops (and thus our sustenance) depends greatly on rain at this time.
Our Sages teach that this phrase can be interpreted on a deeper level as well, which is also appropriate for this time of year. The phrase "Mashiv HaRuach UMorid HaGeshem" can be read as: HaShem is "Meishiv HaRuchnius UMorid HaGashmius" - "the One Who Restores our Spirituality and Causes Physical Abundance to Come Down". After such a beautiful and prayerful time as the High Holy Days and the Festival of Sukkos, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah where we have been working so hard on ourselves to improve, making things right with each other, asking HaShem to bless us with so many good things for the New Year, rejoicing in the Torah - after this special time, it may feel a little empty to now go back to "regular" daily life. But we have a simple phrase to add in to our tefilos every day to remind us of all we've accomplished and all we yearn for - that phrase is "Mashiv HaRuach UMorid HaGeshem". HaShem is the One Who restores our spirituality and blesses us with all we need physically - every single day. May we all be greatly blessed this year b'ruchnius uvegashmius - spiritually and physically!
Reb Shlomo Carlebach ztz"l, would refer to this month as Ram Cheshvan - "Elevated Cheshvan" - (Ram and Mar are spelled the same, but with the letters reversed) as per the B'nei Yissaschar's teaching. What's so elevated about Cheshvan? It is still a month without holidays after all. The idea is that with the insight, the inspiration, the teshuva, the spirituality and so much more that we worked on and cultivated during Tishrei, we are now in a strong and elevated place where we can generate the connection and holiness from down here. We can make it a time of happiness and celebration on our own now.
No wonder our Rebbe's yahrtzeit is in this month (on the 16th of Cheshvan). He makes sure to remind us every year of the renewed ability we have to elevate ourselves and connect to HaShem and each other, and cause the blessings to rain down on us .
Also in Cheshvan s the Yarzeit of Reb Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, the Piasezner Rebbe, also known as the Rabbi of the Warsaw Ghetto. His yahrtzeit is this 4th of mar-Cheshvan. may his merits bring blessings and protection upon all of Israel.