Friday, October 8, 2010

Mar Cheshvan and the flood

30th of Tishri, 5771

Today is the 30th day of Tishri, and the first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan.

This month is also called 'Mar' Cheshvan, which seems to have originated at the time that Jews came back to Israel after the Babylonian Exile (500 BCE). The prefix Mar (which means bitter) is a reference to this month having no festivals or rejoicing. A fact which becomes more noticeable in light of the full holidays' month, the previous Tishri.

Also during this month, as we will read in the Torah tomorrow, God brought down the flood and drowned the world.

'Mar' also means drop and refers to the first rains (theYoreh), which fall in Cheshvan.

The flood (mabbul) began on the 17 of Cheshvan, Hebrew year 1656, and ended on the 27 of Cheshvan.

On the 27th of Cheshvan of the Hebrew year 1657 "the earth dried" (Bereshit 8:14), which finished the 365-day duration of the great flood which wiped out all life on earth except for the
eight human beings and the animals that were on Noach's ark. On this day, God commanded Noach to "Come out of the ark" and repopulate, settle and civilize the earth

Rashi explains that the discrepancy between the 17 and the 27 of Cheshvan, 11 days, reflects the difference of days between the solar (365) and the lunar (354) calendar.

Chodesh Tob and Shabbat shalom!

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024