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Cheshvan 5779


New Moon Reading

In the longstanding tradition of mystical Jews and lifestyle publications, we bring you New Moon Readings. They aren’t fortune telling or magic, and they’re not about luck or a mysterious power. They draw upon on the wise monthly themes of the Hebrew calendar, the influence of the solar system on our daily lives, and, sometimes, totally pagan prognostication tools (tarot!) to guide us.

This is New Moon Reading is brought to you by At The Well.

The cooler air and changing leaves inspire a natural turning inwards. The spirit of the Hebrew calendar is in sync with this energy of introspection, with a side of some spiritual hustle.

We just left Tishrei, the holiest of the Hebrew months. The Jewish New Year began (Rosh Hashanah) and Jews around the globe forgave themselves for being less than their best (Yom Kippur), feasted on the autumn harvest (Sukkot), and danced with joy for the teachings of the greatest book club of all time, the Torah (Simchat Torah).

Last month, we honored ourselves, our humanity, and our many opportunities to enjoy direct access to the Divine.

Jewish teachings suggest that, over the last month, we had access to elevated states and experiences.

Together, we created a month’s worth of energy that was deep, powerful, honest, emotional, and joyous.

Now, we’re in Cheshvan, the only month in the entire Hebrew calendar without holidays. To preserve the stillness of this month, there’s even a tradition of foregoing celebrations, such as weddings.

This month gives us ample room to experience the fullness of the let down.

At some point, huge highs necessarily turn to deep lows.

You spend a weekend visiting your best friends, laughing, catching up, being together. Then, the weekend ends. You go home, back to the grind, and feel the withdrawal from the palpable love that was all around you.

This was probably true for early Jews returning from Jerusalem after making sacrifices at the Temple during the harvest holidays of Tishrei.

Tishrei created the ultimate high, the moment of being closest to the Divine.

When the pilgrimage was over and the people journeyed home, it was most likely a time of mourning and shock and depression, or at least a little slumping, as they waded back into the muck of life.

The Hebrew calendar is smart and intentionally designed.

Cheshvan asks us to land.

We’re invited to use this month as a spiritual tool to bring ourselves back down, planting our feet firmly on the earth.

Though the Jewish New Year came last month, Cheshvan is when the real work begins. In Cheshvan, we honor the intentions set in Tishrei and take the first steps towards making them real.

Judaism teaches that every person and every moment has a chance to become holy. What we do and experience has a chance to change the fabric of our lives and the world. Cheshvan is all about figuring out what we can do to break through the thick of it, taking ourselves to a new and better place.

This New Moon Reading is brought to you by At The Well, which connects women to body, soul, and community through wellness education and Jewish spirituality. Get the full At The Well guide to Cheshvan here.

Photos by Stephanie Cook (thumbnail) and Victor Forgacs (header)

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