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Monday, October 19, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan
Jewish History

The Holy Temple, which took seven years to build, was completed by King Solomon during the month of MarCheshvan (I Kings 6:38), although not necessarily on this exact day. (Its dedication, however, was postponed until Tishrei of the following year—see calendar entry for 8 Tishrei). The First Temple served as the epicenter of Jewish national and spiritual life for 410 years, until its destruction by the Babylonians in 423 BCE.

Links:
The Holy Temple; The Holy Temple: An Anthology

Laws and Customs

Today is the second of the two Rosh Chodesh ("Head of the Month") days for the month of Cheshvan (when a month has 30 days, both the last day of the month and the first day of the following month serve as the following month's Rosh Chodesh).

Special portions are added to the daily prayers: Hallel (Psalms 113-118) is recited -- in its "partial" form -- following the Shacharit morning prayer, and the Yaaleh V'yavo prayer is added to the Amidah and to Grace After Meals; the additional Musaf prayer is said (when Rosh Chodesh is Shabbat, special additions are made to the Shabbat Musaf). Tachnun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted.

Many have the custom to mark Rosh Chodesh with a festive meal and reduced work activity. The latter custom is prevalent amongst women, who have a special affinity with Rosh Chodesh -- the month being the feminine aspect of the Jewish Calendar.

Links: The 29th Day; The Lunar Files

The month of Cheshvan is also called "Mar-Cheshvan." Mar means "bitter" -- an allusion to the fact that the month contains no festive days. Mar also means "water", alluding to the month's special connection with rains (the 7th of Cheshvan is the day on which Jews begin praying for rain (in the Holy Land), and the Great Flood, which we read about in this week's Torah reading, began on Cheshvan 17th).

Links: The Last Jew

Daily Thought

When the Mighty Waters cover your head, suffocating the soul and the flame that burnt inside . . .

When raging torrents of confusion drag you away in their current, ripping you from your hold on Life . . .

Look deeper. Beyond the soul.

For the soul itself, as well as the flame it holds, are rooted in a serene G‑dly World of Emanation, a world of quietness and sublime harmony.

But the turbulence of this world is rooted even beyond that, stemming from a World of Confusion, of light unbounded and untamed, before the orderly emanation of defined being, “and the world was confused and void, with darkness over the face of the deep.”

So you must dig deeper than those roots, to find the coals from which the flame arose and the flint rock from which the spark was struck. Deeper, until you reach the primordial essence of the soul, beyond Emanation, beyond Light—even beyond the unbounded light of pre-creation. Where there is nothing but the seminal thought which inspired all that is and was and will come to be.

And what was that thought? It was the thought of you here and now, in your struggle with this world, and the delicious taste of your victory.

And, since in that thought there is no past and future, there, in that thought, you have already won.

Now you must make it happen.

Maamar Mayim Rabim 5738.