The Hebrew month of Cheshvan is here! Today is the 9th day, which means the moon is making its way from a sliver to a grin in the sky. I love this sweet month. It is a welcome respite from the High Holy day preparations of Elul, and the hustle and bustle of holiday after holiday in Tishrei. Because it has no holy days in it, the ancients referred to this month as MarCheshvan or Bitter Cheshvan. Just because there is no specific holy day in it does not mean that it is bitter – what a tragic worldview. The no-thing-ness of this month is its beauty. It’s a chance to slow down, to let the pace of the new year settle in, for regular old regularity to arrive, and with it, some peace of mind.
While things are far from being “back to normal,” (I just got home from what is becoming my monthly Covid test), I find the pull of the current that rushes in that direction to be nearly all-consuming. Most frightening to me, other than the threat of Covid, is the threat of losing the sacred relationship with time that has developed over the pandemic. Shabbat became a sweet relief, an anchor in time, something to look forward to in the undifferentiated days of working from home. I’ve written about the powerful ritual of baking challah, time for which is slipping away as the demands of the outside world pull at me. This Cheshvan, my intention is to slow down. To sit in no-thing-ness. Not to fill the time but to notice it, even when those hours at home with my 3-year-old stretch out like a marathon before me.
The holy days of the Hebrew calendar aren’t about celebrating special time, but reminding us that time, itself, is special. May this month be for you a MatokCheshvan, a Sweet Cheshvan, as we settle into mindful patterns, build protections around that which matters most, and make time to honor the passing of time.