Dear friends, The Chagim are over, and winter has begun. The weather has changed, and our car headlights have gone into overdrive. There is a mysterious book called Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), it is the earliest extant book on mysticism and whilst is authorship is highly debated it was written at least 2000 years ago. In it the author relates cryptic correlations for each month of the year. The month of Cheshvan, he writes, corresponds to the tribe of Menashe.
Later Kabbalists explained that this is referencing the deeper meaning of the purpose of this month. The month of “MarCheshvan” (bitter Cheshvan) is one which, in stark contrast to the previous month of Tishrei, is the sole Jewish month that is devoid of any Yom Tov, major or minor.
They explain that Menashe, Joseph's son, grew up in Egypt and worked as a translator in the King's palace, a job that by definition required him to be a worldly and down-to-earth person. Despite this, he was considered an equal to the other tribes and even to his brother who studied Torah for many years with his grandfather Yaakov.
This is a reassuring message of warmth for each of us as we trudge through the regular day to day grind of life in this month. Attending Synagogue less doesn’t mean that we drop our level of spirituality. Quite the contrary, Menashe reminds us that if we conduct ourselves in a just and proper manner, work for the right reasons, and make sure to connect to G-d through prayer, the seemingly mundane will itself turn into spirituality. Rabbi Sholom Mimran