Friday, October 26, 2007

CHESHVAN - THE OTHER SIDE OF ELUL

by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

The whole world has their Olympics every four years. But in the Jewish world we have our Olympics every year, for each year we strive to stretch ourselves to achieve greater spiritual heights over the previous year. As long as within the dimensions of Torah we strive to strengthen our learning, to increase our giving, and to deepen our yearning, we should know that we are earning Gold Medals in heaven every day! Judaism is calisthenics for the soul.

Now all athletes know that the cooling down is just as important as the warming up! Either to jump into the proverbial fray without first stretching or to stop suddenly after the furious sprint is to invite needless risk to one's health. The warm up is as important as the wind down. And vice versa!

The month of Elul is touted as the the great prelude to Tishrei's cavalcade of festivals. It is the warm up to the marathon of chagim. And likewise, the month of Cheshvan, which follows Tishrei, despite its marked absence of festivals, is the great wind down. It is necessarily important as a time of integration and follow up, coming as it does on the heels of the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) and the Season of our Joy (Zeman Simchateinu).

Processing the deep determination for change engendered by this Tishrei-fest requires both the
deep introspection and the necessary solitude so as to integrate it to become the highest manifestation of the self as part of a process of organic unfolding. Cheshvan affords each and every one of us this opportunity for deep integration.

Elul and Cheshvan are each notably marked by an absence of festivals, and yet each mutually share in the pleasure of bracketing the unique month of festivals. While Elul is generally recognized as intrinsic to the pulse and rhythm of the season, Cheshvan's void is more widely wrongly viewed as anticlimactic and gratuitous, whose value lies solely in its refreshing absence of holy tension. But the value of Cheshvan is as authentically linked to Tishrei on the waning end as much as Elul is complementarily linked to Tishrei on the waxing end.

According to the Qabbala, the bitterness of Cheshvan's solitude, whereby it is dubbed MarCheshvan (bitter Cheshvan), will in Messianic days be transformed into true bliss as the herald of the Great Redemption. Then it will be known to all, through an inverting of the letters, as RamCheshvan- Elevated Cheshvan. Even Ma'asu Habonim Hayta LeRosh Pinah - the stone rejected by the builder will yet become the cornerstone of the New and Future Order.

Whatever lessons we learned from Tishrei can only be integrated into the self via the processing month of Cheshvan. It is the month whereby the ephemeral flash of holy insight attaches itself to the mundane and everyday routines of living in order to become realized and grounded. Though spelled differently, aurally speaking, it sounds like the Hebrew word for *thinking* - CH-SH-V. That is, it is the month for deep thinking, for building the neuro-psychic pathways necessary for our Tishrei dreams to become our enduring reality.

Shabbat Shalom. Good Shabbos!

© 2000 - 2007 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in honor of the memory of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Yaakov Hakohen Melman, z"l.

http://seferchabibi.blogspot.com/2007/07/yahrzeit-of-my-father-27-tammuz.html

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506EEDC1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua
(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)

Dedications are available.My band, Niggun, is available for all simchas.
Contact me privately at niggun@aol.com

NEVER GIVE UP!

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When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.- Abraham Joshua Heschel
The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is to not be afraid.
-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"The greatest thing in the world is to do somebody else a favor." - Aish Kodesh
"As you want G*d to give you a chance, give everyone else a chance to also begin again." - Shlomo Carlebach

About Me

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United States
I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!