Today is Rosh Chodesh Mar Cheshvan. I think of Mar Cheshvan as an invitation into the “spirituality of the ordinary.”
This last month was filled with one spiritual peak after another – Rosh Hashana and the Shofar, the Ten Days of Teshuva, Yom Kippur and for some, building a sukkah, getting the Lulav and Etrog and 9 more days of festivities over Sukkot culminating with dancing in circles with the Torah night and day. My Gentile brother-in-law joked, after observing us prepare for one festive meal after another, that a new “Fast and Furious” movie could be made about the Jewish holidays during Tishrei.
Mar Cheshvan is so different. It is the one month that has no holidays or fast days. It is just one regular day after another. In this way it is the perfect balance to Tishrei. The High Holidays offer us many different prompts towards holiness. If the Shofar didn’t open our heart maybe fasting on Yom Kippur will, or the sukkah, or the lulav, or the circle dances of Hoshana Raba and Simchat Torah.
In Mar Cheshvan there are no special prompts. Rather, we are invited to bring whatever inspiration we received and intentions we created during the holidays into our daily routines of work, commuting, helping the kids with homework, attending community events, etc. We might be able to call on a desired spiritual trait in a time of exceptional joy or crisis, but we only know if a trait is deeply internalized by its presence in our daily routines. Maybe Mar Cheshvan has no peak ritual moments to give us an opportunity to try out our spiritual practices in the context of our daily routines. If there were more holidays this month we might save our practice for these special moments.
I invite you to take advantage of the spirituality of the ordinary and infuse these regular days over the next month with the holiness of your own chosen practices.