Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cheshvan: An Opportunity for Salvation or Misfortune

Cheshvan is a month which offers both the individual and the world a choice of great salvation or great misfortune. This choice is largely dependant on the person's actions - whether to follow The Torah and overcome his/her negative impulses, or whether to fail and give in to them. It may seem odd that Cheshvan is the month which is viewed by some as the month that is most devoid of holidays and of meaning. It can be argued that Cheshvan is the greatest of all months, for though it may be viewed as "negative" due to the beginning of the mabbul having taken place on the 17th of Cheshvan, this is also positive in that life continued to exist, as HaShem spared Noach's family and all of the life on the Ark. Similarly, it was during the month of Cheshvan that everyone on the Ark departed, in effect bringing about the continuation of life of people, animals, and insects. (B'reishis: 8; 15 - 19) Therefore, we see the greatness.

It's interesting that the month of Cheshvan is commonly referred to as "Marcheshvan", which can be translated as "bitter Cheshvan", due to the destruction related to the mabbul that began in that month. However, the word "mar" can also be translated as "water" (Yishayahu: 40; 15), water being a sign of life. It is on the seventh of Cheshvan, which falls out on the night of November 4th this year, when people is Israel start making the request that HaShem provide us with life-giving rain. (Ta'anis, 10a)

It is within our ability to affect physical events in this world, for the spiritual effects the physical. By our improving ourselves - both in our relationships with HaShem and with people, improve our middos and conquer our evil-inclination, one battle at a time, we can succeed in turning the greatest fears that may seem to be inevitably approaching, into bygone fears that, Baruch HaShem, weren't realized. It is the evil-inclination that led man to the path of destuction prior to the flood, but it was Noach alone who essentially overcame what seemed like an insurmountable evil that afflicted society - something so widespread and ingrained, where evil seemed to have the upper hand. Noach, due to his actions, his decision to stay close to and his decision to overcome his evil-inclination, that led to the unexpected defeat of evil in a major battle. We learn in the Talmud that it is the evil-inclination that seeks our ultimate downfall. It is however within our ability to avoid, both personal downfall and to have a positive effect on all of life by working to overcome our evil inclination. We have the ability to overcome our evil-inclination, as HaShem said. (B'reishis: 4; 6 - 7) We must not listen to our evil-inclination when he tries to convince us that "it's no use to try" because he acts as if he is "unbeatable". An opponent that regularly lies and misconstrues to try to dispirit his opponent is truly afraid of his opponent, because he recognizes that if his (i.e. the evil-inclinations') opponent were to stand up to him with force, it would be the evil-inclination who would end up losing. HaShem told Kayin that he shouldn't be angry and dispirited, for he can overcome his evil-inclination. Kayin didn't take HaShem's words to heart as he should have and ended up bringing defeat to himself and victory to his opponent, the evil-inclination. It is within our power to overcome our evil-inclinations, no matter how many tacks he tries to use to "ensure" his victory. However, in reality, it is us who decide who will win.


It is the generation of the flood that serves as an example for all of mankind. Don't be dispirited, don't give up hope, don't surrender and you will succeed. It is within our ability to bring salvation and tranquility to ourselves and all of mankind, we simply have to decide to do so.

Can we overcome the evil-inclination and "inevitable" threats against us:

"My answer to you is Yes, yes we will lead instead of our Yetzer HaRa, yes we will prosper, yes we will be safer, yes we will pass on the ideals of The Torah. But we must be prepared to act swiftly, boldly, with courage and wisdom. I'm a Torah Jew and I choose to fight. Don't give hope. Be strong have courage and fight. Fight for a new direction fight for what's right. Fight for the ideals and character of a free people. Stand up to defend from our enemies, stand up and fight. Fight for our future. We are worth fighting for. Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up, we never quit, we make history, we don't hide from history. Now let's go and overcome our Yetzer HaRa and show once and for all that we can overcome all those who seek to distance ourselves from HaShem and the truth that He has blessed us with."

Quote from someone fighting for good.

May it be HaShem's Will that we end off this month better than we had started it. May we have success in overcoming our opponents who wish to endanger us - i.e. the evil inclination - and those who wish to endanger the world and The Jewish People. This is a month where there will be great change. It is still up to us what the change will be - whether for the great good or great decline. All we have to do is overcome our evil-inclination. Though it the past we may have failed, we still have the opportunity to right ourselves. May we truly recognize the supremacy that good has over evil - that we have over our evil-inclinations - and see the great beginning of the downfall of evil. When it seems that victory for evil is "inevitable" but hasn't been realized as of yet, especially when such evil feels it can have a major affect on individual lives and the world, it is truly an opportunity to overcome evil and take one-huge step toward ultimately overcoming it forever. Remember, it is the evil inclination that tries to throw up the smoke-screen in his desperation to try to get us to stop fighting, to give up, and "let him take over". But we aren't like the generation of the flood, we are very different. The forces of good have the power to prevail. The forces of evil look now to have a Cheshvan of "success" in their goals of "domination". However, this Cheshvan is different, we will better ourselves, we will not be dispirited by the smoke-screens of the evil-inclination, especially at a time when The Jewish People finds itself in great danger from abroad. We have the upper hand, we will decide to deny evil the victory he seeks to attain. Though this fight occurs as long as the evil-inclination exists, until at least until the Messianic-age, the great battle takes place in Cheshvan.

Let's show ourselves to be in control, in the lead, and the free-people of the world. The people who follow The Torah. We are referred to as "b'nei chorin" - "free-people", for by following The Torah, it is us who are truly free. We are free from our evil-inclinations. We learn that it was Pharaoh who worked the Jewish People so hard so that we wouldn't even focus on improvement.

This year, this month, in my opinion, will have a great impact on events leading to the time of the Mashiach (Messianic-age), whether it will come this year, in several years, or any other time. We must fight and not surrender until we have succeeded.

"Ben Zoma says: Who is the strong person? He who overcomes his evil-inclination, as it says [in "Mishlei"], "Greater is one is is slow to anger, than one who is strong, and one whe rules over his spirit [is greater] than one who conquers a city." (15; 16)" (Pirkei Avos: 4; 1)


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