Hidden Sparks Beneath the Surface | Part One
What is the Significance of Silence in the Month of Cheshvan by Elisheva Tavor
Cheshvan, sometimes referred to as Mar Cheshvan or Bul is the 8th month counting from Nisan and the 2nd month- counting from Tishrei. It the only month in which there are no festivals, no fast days and no special observances other than or course Shabbat. But herein lies its significance, its special “spark,” just beneath the surface, waiting to be discovered.
All the months are interrelated, each connecting to the next in the cycle of the seasons, the ‘round’ of the year…set up by The Creator from the beginning for our benefit to make up what we call “time”…like a beautiful string of pearls…each is significant to the whole.
Looking back on the calendar two months ago, we ushered in the month of Elul, which began our 40 days of Teshuvah (Repentance or Return) where we focused on love…love for HaShem and for one another, t’shuvah, repentance, return and forgiveness… a month of introspection…coming ‘face to face’ with ourselves, with one another, and with our Creator, a time of unlocking the inner chambers of the heart, layer upon layer, going deeper and deeper and taking us into the month of Tishrei where we stood in awe before the King of the Universe on Rosh Hashanah and ten days later received His forgiveness, cleansing and compassionate mercy on Yom Kippur.
Then after five days of preparation, we were able to participate in the glorious festival of Sukkot, encompassed by the Divine Shechinah and the Clouds of Glory. We were overcome by joy, by simcha! But could we stay in this heightened state of joy and exaltation in our present fragile vessels??? We might like to think so, but in actuality, we would most likely burst!!! HaShem knew this…that’s why He gave us this month of Cheshvan, a month of quietness and contemplation. The very word ‘chesh’ in Hebrew means silence… Che..Shhhhhh…van.
The transition from the month of Tishrei, which is filled with holidays into the silence of the month of Cheshvan, which is void of holidays, can be a challenging one. Rabbi Shimon Jacobson says, “It is a descent from a spiritual ‘high ‘to coping with mundane realities. Nevertheless, we have to know that G-d’s plan and intention is precisely this, to bring the sublime experiences of Tishrei into our ordinary lives.” (from, 60 Days, A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays, p 157)
But how do we do this? There is a clue in the account of Jacob’s Ladder in Genesis 28, Ya’akov went to sleep and had this magnificent dream about a ladder reaching up to the heavens with the angels ascending and descending, and when he awoke, what did what did he do? He marveled on what he had experienced… but then he continued on his journey.
The Rebbe Sholom Dovber makes the point that after the Tishrei holiday season begins the period called, Ve Yaakov holoch le darko, simply meaning, “And Jacob went on his way.” “Every Jew,” he says, “goes on his way, back to his work in fulfilling his unique mission in life. But now, he comes ‘armed’ with the deep inspiration and energy that he has received from celebrating all the holidays in this month.” (from, 60 Days, A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays, p 153)
Rabbi Jacobson goes on to explain the interrelatedness of each of our individual journeys to one another and to our Creator and to His Divine Plan.
“In Jewish mystical thought, space, time and matter are understood to be forces of Divine energy—sparks which fell down to earth at the time of creation-and which became embedded in all aspects of existence…” Often times the things that seem to be beyond our control are really opportunities to elevate sparks of divine energy trapped beneath the surface— and by doing so, to spiritualize the material—to bring the infinite to the finite”. (from, 60 Days, A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays, p 156)
In this month of Che..Shhhhhh van our work is to quietly unpack all these rich resources we have stored in our hearts and all these sparks we have discovered that have been hidden beneath the surface and internalize them into our daily lives as we, like Jacob, continue on our journey.
Shhhhh, “Be still and know that I am Hashem.”(Psalm 46:11)
Read Part Two: HERE