(Scorpion) - because the earth is thirsty for water
Other Names: Mar Cheshvan, Bul, Hachodesh
Significance: Cheshvan, the month
following Tishrei on the modern Jewish calendar is referred to in the Tanach as
Yerach Bul (Kings I, Chapter 6:38). Bul refers to the idea that during this month the
grass withers (baleh) and feed is mixed (bolelin) in the house for the
animals (Rashis interpretation). Others think it may come from the word yevul
(produce) for during this month plowing and planting begin in Israel. Still others see a
reference to Mabul, flood, since according to the Midrash more rain falls in this
month since it marks the beginning of the great Flood during the time of Noach.
In modern times, this month has become known as Cheshvan or
Mar Cheshvan, which seems to have originated at the time that Jews came back to
Israel after the Babylonian Exile. The prefix Mar (which means bitter) is a
reference to this month having no festivals or rejoicing, but much suffering for Jews
throughout the ages. Also during this month, God brought down the Flood and drowned the
world (except for Noach and those with him on the ark.) Mar also means drop and
refers to the first rains (the Yoreh), which fall in Cheshvan.
Ritual Practices: Cheshvan
always has a two-day Rosh Chodesh, the second of which, the first of the new
month, always falls on a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Shabbat.
On the seventh day of Cheshvan those living in Israel begin requesting rain by adding
"Veten Tal U'Matar" to their Shmone Esre prayers. If no rain
has fallen by the 17th, a drought is feared and ritual fasting ans special prayer begins.
The 27th of Cheshvan is observed by those who fast on Erev Rosh Chodesh
as a Yom Kippur Katan (small scale Yom
Kippur) fast day. If ten or more men are fasting, the passages of Vayechal
are read at Mincha.
Other facts: King Solomon completed the
seven-year building of the Sanctuary during Cheshvan and there should have been a
festival. Though all Israel waited for G-ds command concerning this dedication, G-d
waited until the next Tishrey (11 months later) before he finally commanded the
Yet our sages tell us (Yalkut Melachim 184) that Mar-Cheshvan will be repaid by G-d for
its loss in the world to come.