The Rain of Cheshvan

Learn about the Hebrew month of Cheshvan(חשון)

Remember when you were a kid, playing outside during a long weekend? Many can remember playing baseball, riding bikes, skateboarding and climbing trees from dawn to dusk. You'd be having a great time until you heard those dreadful words, "Come inside, it's time to get ready for bed. Tomorrow is a school day."

The month of Cheshvan is kind of like that Sunday night before the impending school (or work) week. The previous month of Tishrei, a month overflowing with feasts and fasts, has come to an end. The spiritual high is over. We have to "come down off of the mountain" so to speak, and get back to reality. Though Cheshvan may not have the glory and grandeur of Tishrei, it is still an important month nonetheless.

Cheshvan is the beginning of the first rainy season in the Land of Israel, which are called the early rains in Scripture. Last month marked the end of the harvest season. After the harvest has been brought in, petitions for rain are offered to God during Sukkot. It is during the final day of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, that an additional petition for rain is added during the second benediction of the Amidah, "Who makes the wind blow and makes the rain descend."

Rain, especially in the Land of Israel, is absolutely vital for life. Unlike the irrigated Nile River Valley of Egypt, the Land of Israel depends on rainfall for life. From a biblical perspective, rain is a symbol of God's blessing.

The Master spoke of the blessing of rain in his sermon on the mount:

"[L]ove your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He...sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:44-46, 48)

Just as God blesses both the righteous and unrighteous with rain, so also we should be just as unbiased in our love for our neighbors.

So this Cheshvan, as we come down from the spiritual heights of Tishrei, take a lesson from the rain. Remember that God's love is greater than we sometimes acknowledge. May we have a perfect love for our neighbors, and treat them with kindness and respect.

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(Wed) 26 October 2016 :: 24 Tishrei 5777
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