The Month of No Holidays: (Mar) Heshvan
After the seeming endlessness of the holidays last month in Tishrei, the month of Heshvan (also called Marheshvan) is the one month in the Jewish calendar without any holidays or religious observances other than Shabbat. Called "mar" (which means "bitter) Heshvan because absence of Jewish holidays, the month is acutally a stroke of brilliance in the genius of the Jewish calendar cycle.
After the activity of Tishrei, with Rosh Hashanna's spirituality and Yom Kippur's introspection rolling into the joy of Sukkot and the "z'man simchateinu" (time of our rejoicing) of Simchat Torah, we all need a bit of a pause to absorb it, to take a breath, to stop for a moment. Heshvan gives us a pause.
Heshvan is a time to rejoice in the beauty of seasonal change, enjoying God's "paintbrush" upon the autumn leaves. Take a drive down Dundee Road between Sanders and Milwaukee and pull off to the side of the road, or into the woods and take a look (or a walk) around to experience the beauty of God, of nature. Listen to the wind rustling through the falling and fallen leaves to experience God's ruach, as we have begun to add the words "mashiv ha ruach u'morid hagashem" (cause the wind to blow and rain to fall) to the daily recitiation of the Amidah (and continue to do so until Pesach).
Enjoy Shabbat by coming to CBS for services: ShabbaTONE, Parent-Tot Shabbat, Discovery Minyan, Study Minyan, sanctuary services every Saturday morning, or in the Beit Midrash on Friday night. Soon Cheshvan will be gone, the snow will start to fall, darkness will come sooner and sooner and we will be in Kislev, when celebrations once again are upon us with Chanukah. Until then, enjoy the quiet peacefulness of Heshvan.