We are now deep into the month of Heshvan on the Jewish calendar. This month is often overlooked, because it does not contain any holidays. In fact, its nickname is Marheshvan, or bitter Heshvan. I have never thought of Heshvan as a bitter or sad month, rather I have always approached the second month of the Jewish year as a time to “settle in.”
Heshvan provides us with an opportunity to regroup after the rush of holidays in Tishrei. We settle into our routines and find rhythm in the pace of our weeks. We now have time do the things we said we would do “after the holidays.” After so much introspection during the High Holy Day season, when we set goals for ourselves and contemplated what we will strive for in the new year ahead, we now have the opportunity to revisit those goals and to begin take action and to make real changes in our lives.
Masekhet Shabbat 151a in the Babylonian Talmud says, “Act while you can; while you have the chance, the means, and the strength.” In other words, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Heshvan gives us four weeks punctuated only by Shabbat. Hopefully, having this time gives us the chance to act while we can.
The month of Heshvan also allows us the opportunity to find beauty in everyday life.
As human beings, we tend to focus on big events – milestones, family celebrations, holiday meals with loved ones, but most of life is lived in the “every day.” Heshvan reminds us that blessings can be found in small moments, if we are mindful of them. Without holidays to distract us, we can focus on noticing what exists around us every day, and we can use this time to offer gratitude for what we find.
There are still a few days left in the month of Heshvan. Before we begin the next Jewish month of Kislev, when we will plan for and celebrate Hanukkah, let us use the rest of this month to begin to act on the goals we set for ourselves during the High Holy Days, and to be mindful of the gifts we have in our lives.
I wish you a very happy Heshvan. May it be filled with blessings that make everyday life meaningful and beautiful.