How Did the Holidays Enter?
Updated: Oct 7, 2021
By Rabbi David Jaffe
MarCheshvan is a much quieter month than the holiday-packed Tishrei. This spaciousness is actually a key part of spiritual growth. If Tishrei is about reaching spiritual heights, MarCheshvan is about the daily routines of mundane life.
This dynamic reflects a central idea about spiritual life found in Jewish mysticism called, “Ratzoh v’Shov,” which literally translates as “Running and Returning” and refers to the ebbs and flows of spiritual life. According to Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (d. 1810, Ukraine), Ratzoh refers to those moments of spiritual clarity and deep connection, while Shov are times of disconnection and feeling down. Rebbe Nachman’s insight is that both of these states are key to spiritual growth. Ratzoh feeds us with inspiration and insight while Shov enables integration of these insights. While Shov may not seem like any growth is happening, we need to remember that this quieter, more subdued state is also part of deepening and elevation. The traditional Breslov greeting after the holidays is, “How did the holidays enter?” Shov helps the insights of the holidays enter.
What learning, experiences and insights from the holidays do you aspire to enter into your mind, heart and soul in this next, quieter month?
Here at IOWA we are excited to be launching our second Ovdim Social Justice Leadership Cohort with a four-day retreat. These leaders in fields of the climate emergency and racial and economic justice face intense battles and conflict all year round. We start with retreat to give them spaciousness and quiet to process and metabolize the depth of suffering they encounter in their activist and personal lives. Retreat is literally a Mar Cheshvan experience of quiet and spaciousness for the purpose of deep integration.
May of the spiritual quiet of Mar Cheshvan provide fertile soil for seeds of the Holidays to take root.