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Why was the word “mar” added to Cheshvan?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

Mar has two meanings: “bitter” and “drop”—as in a drop of water.

The month of Cheshvan has a pretty bitter history for the world and the Jewish people, starting as far back as Noah’s flood which the Torah says began in Cheshvan, and continuing down through the ages. Cheshvan is also a month that is completely void of any joyous festivals or holidays—in stark contrast to its predecessor, Tishrei, which is filled with holidays (Rosh Hashanah etc.).

But “mar” meaning “drop” refers also to the rainwaters the world thirsts for during Cheshvan. Thus Cheshvan also corresponds to the constellation of Scorpio, just as the scorpion thirsts for water.

Source: Sefer Hatoda’ah

[Cheshvan, the challenge of living in the “real” world, outside the spiritual environment of Tishrei seems like a descent, a bitter pill. But it is only through this descent, this challenge, that we can reach the ultimate ascent—the “mar” in the sense of water.]

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