Heshvan is the eighth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.
Heshvan comes at the same time as the secular months of October/November. Pumpkins, squash, and gourds have arrived, reminding us of the cycle of planting and harvesting. Nature begins to hibernate, and mirroring this process, we too slow down and turn inward.
The Good fortune, luck, and the Hebrew sign of the Zodiac. (constellation) for Heshvan is Scorpio, akrav (the scorpion).
Heshvan is often referred to as mar Heshvan, “bitter” Heshvan, because the month contains no holy days, and because it often coincides with the arrival of colder weather. “Mar” can also mean a drop of water. According to a A rabbinic method of interpreting text, often through the telling of stories. (a story that interprets the The Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general.), more rain falls in “watery Heshvan” since it marks the beginning of the great flood during the time of Noah. We can also think of Heshvan as a quiet time to reap the benefits of the spiritual growth of the preceding month of Tishrei.
Fabulous Females of Heshvan
Heshvan contains the yahrzeits (annual commemoration of a person’s death) of many important women in Jewish history including:
Lavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. Imeynu (our foremother) who, along with her sister The third of the Jewish matriarchs, Lead is the eldest of Lavan's daughters and one of the wives of Jacob. She is the daughter whom Lavan tricks Jacob into marrying instead of his younger daughter Rachel, whom Jacob has requested to marry. Leah is mother to six of the the twelve tribes and to one daughter, Dinah. and their handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah, gave birth to the twelve sons who were to become the fathers of the twelve tribes of Lit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel.. Deeply loved by her husband Lit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov., Rachel, like her son Jacob's eldest son by his beloved wife, Rachel. Joseph, the dreamer, was his father's favorite and nearly murdered by his brothers. Sold into slavery, he became viceroy of Egypt where he ultimately saves the Egyptians and also his own family from starvation. His Hebrew name is Yosef/, is celebrated for her remarkable beauty. And like The first matriarch, wife of Abraham, and mother of Isaac, whom she birthed at the age of 90. Sarah, in Rabbinic tradition, is considered holy, beautiful, and hospitable. Many prayers, particularly the Amidah (the central silent prayer), refer to God as Magen Avraham – protector of Abraham. Many Jews now add: pokehd or ezrat Sarah – guardian or helper of Sarah., Rachel was barren for many years. Ultimately she accomplished her goal of childbearing through her courage and persistence. Sadly, Rachel died in childbirth with her second son, Benjamin.
Tradition teaches that Rachel died on the 11th of Heshvan and that she is buried in Kever Rachel (Rachel’s tomb), outside of Bethlehem, where she is said to weep for all of us, her children. In some communities women make pilgrimages to Rachel’s tomb and say special prayers for fertility and childbearing.
Our foremother Rachel is remembered for her compassion, perseverance, and devotion.
Poet Emma Lazarus (1849–1887) wrote the famous sonnet welcoming new immigrants to America that is engraved on the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus’s paternal ancestors were among the first twenty-three Jews to settle in New York in 1654. Her (Yiddish) The anniversary of a death, usually marked by the lighting of a 24-hour yahrzeit candle and the recitation of Kaddish, the memorial prayer. For U.S. Jews, the unveiling of the headstone usually takes place on or around the first yahrzeit. is the 19th of Heshvan.
Emma Lazurus teaches us to welcome people from all backgrounds, to help those less fortunate than ourselves, and to pursue our artistic passions.
Author, Zionist, and war hero Hannah is the mother of the prophet Samuel, who, through her prayers, is rewarded a child. She herself is also considered a prophet. Hannah's intense devotional style of prayer becomes the model, in rabbinic Judaism, for prayer in general. Senesh (1921–1944) was born in Hungary and made Lit. Ascending Being called up to recite the blessing before and after a Torah reading. Also, a term used upon moving to Israel (i.e., making aliyah) (immigrated) to Palestine. Senesh was captured and executed while courageously trying to save Hungarian Jews from the Nazis. Her numerous poems and stories are widely published. Her yahrzeit is the 20th of Heshvan.
Hannah Senesh’s poem Halihah Lekeysaryah became popularized as the lyrics to the beloved song “Eli, Eli.”
Eli, Eli she lo yigamer le’olam
rishrush shel hamayim
tefilat ha’Adam is the first human being created by God. Symbolizes: Creation, humankind.
My God, my God, I pray that these things never end –
the sand and the sea,
the rush of the waters,
the crash of the heavens,
the prayer of the heart.
Hannah Senesh is a model of bravery and righteousness whose allegiance to the Jewish people and Israel surpassed everything else in her life.
Author Anzia Yezierska (1883–1970) wrote novels and short stories that vividly depict immigrant life in New York’s Lower East Side. Her yahrzeit is the 22nd of Heshvan. Perhaps her most famous book, The Breadgivers, takes us inside an early twentieth-century American immigrant Jewish family in which Sarah, the narrator, struggles to find fulfillment through education, work, and love.
Anzia Yezierska teaches us about the power of observation and the joys of storytelling.
There are no holidays in Heshvan so there aren’t any specific foods associated with the month. We suggest eating local produce of the season such as squash, zucchini, and apples. Zucchini bread, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie, apple cider, and apple pie are also great Heshvan treats!
This “Essence” is taken from the Sourcebook for Leaders, written by Rabbi Rachel Gartner and Barbara Berley Melits, for The new moon, which marks the beginning of the Jewish month. According to tradition, because women did not participate in the sin of the golden calf, they were given the holiday of Rosh Chodesh. It is customary for women not to work on Rosh Chodesh.: It’s a Girl Thing! This experiential program was created by Kolot: The Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies to strengthen the Jewish identity and self-esteem of adolescent girls through monthly celebrations of the New Moon festival. The program is now available through Moving Traditions.