May the month of Marheshvan be one of blessing for us all

There is no shortage of holy and commemorative days on the Jewish calendar, as the past three weeks amply demonstrate. And, if the exception proverbially proves the rule, the coming new month also proves the point. That month, Heshvan, arrives this weekend. It stands alone among our months; it holds not a single special occasion, aside from the usual seventh day as Shabbat. In fact, with the end of Simhat Torah last Friday, our calendar stands bereft of special occasions a full 60 days. Not until Hanuka, on the 25th of next month (Kislev), do we celebrate — again, aside from the regular Shabbatot — holy or commemorate dates.

For this reason, our tradition attaches the word “Mar” to the beginning of the name of the coming month, yielding the term “Marheshvan.” Now, the Hebrew word Mar has an interesting double meaning: depending on the context, it means either “bitter” (as in Maror, the bitter herbs at the Pesah Seder) or “mister” (as in Mister Rogers). Marheshvan connotes both: “bitter” alluding to its lack of joyous occasions, and “mister” giving it an honorific boost to compensate for its lack of commemorative dates. May the month of Marheshvan be one of blessing for all of us and our entire people!