In Jewish Mysticism, Kabbalah, each Jewish month is assigned a letter of the Alef Bet, a sign of the zodiac, a tribe of the amphyctyony of Jewish tribes, one of the senses and a part of the body. The manner in which these come to light is fascinating and filled with the inner light of involvement in text and commitment to life.
This month is called Heshvan. It is the eighth month of the Jewish calendar.
In the Bible, Heshvan is called Hodesh bul, from the word mabul, “the flood.” According to Jewish tradition the flood began on the 17th of Heshvan, and ended the following year on the 27th of Heshvan. The following day, the 28th of Heshvan, No’ah brought his sacrifice to G and G swore never again to bring a flood upon the earth to destroy all the earthlings, and then revealed the sign of that covenant with the world, the rainbow. Also, the story of No’ah is read right before the month of Heshvan begins.
Heshvan is the only month which has no holidays or special mitzvot. We are taught that it is “reserved” for the time of Mashiah, who will inaugurate the third Temple in Heshvan.
In Kabbalah the letter Nun symbolizes Mashiach, because of a rather clever interpretation of T’hilim 72:17: (Literal translation) “May G’s name be forever, as long as the sun exists, may G’s name be bright and may all nations bless themselves with G’s name and praise G.” But the mystery of the words flows through in a different way. The word for bright is Yod Nun Yod Nun (or Yod Nun Vahv Nun). This is interpreted as the letter Nun (spelled Nun Vahv Nun) preceded by the Yod of G’s ineffable name. The Midrash of T’hilim refers to the Mashiah as YahNun. The translation becomes a hint that the Mashiah will spread the sacred light of enlightenment to the nations. The eighth month is the month of Mashiah. If we look to the traditional view of Creation we find 6 days of physical creation followed by the creation of the spiritual on the 7th . Therefore the 8th day is that step into the mystical, that which starts with the rational reaching into the spiritual and stepping off into the realm of all mystery.
In a play on the shape of the nun, in this realm it has a flat bottom נ, confined by the boundaries of nature. With the coming of Mashiah, the nun “straightens out” (the shape of the final nun ן), breaking through the boundaries of physical nature, and descends “below the line” into the all realms of reality revealing G’s all-encompassing Infinite light, the light of the first day of creation, the light of enlightenment which is the end of all duality.
Mazal: akrav (Scorpio–scorpion).
Our sages teach us that the scorpion is the most deadly member of the general category of poisonous creatures whose archetypal figure is the primordial snake of Eden (whether or not this has scientific validity, it has poetic value). The word akrav is similar to the word akev, “heel.” And so the mystics make the connection to Genesis 3:15 “and you (snake) shall bite the human at the heel.” The Mashiah is the soul that overcomes the curse of the snake from Eden, ending the good and evil duality of life. In the Gematria game Mashiah and Nahash (snake) both equal 358. Also the root of Heshvan, which is Het Shin Nun when moved around spell Nahash, Nun Het Shin. And because Nun is the last letter in Heshvan, it is straightened out symbolizing again breaking through the barriers of physical nature and duality. And just for fun, King David, the ancestor of the Mashiah spells his name Dalet Vahv Dalet = 14 and nun is the 14th letter of the Alef Bet. What more proof could one seek?
In the realm of the Jewish mystery, Menasheh the firstborn of Joseph symbolizes the month of Heshvan. Menasheh derives from the root Nun Shin Hay which means “to forget” (literally “to slip away”). There is a story at the end of Braesheet (Braesheet 48:13-20) in which Manasheh is slighted when his grandfather blesses his younger brother Efriam on a higher level. Menasheh, unlike his uncle Esau does not seek revenge and is not even perturbed. Perhaps that is why the mystical view of Menasheh is that he implies the power of the tzadik, to forgive and forget. The teaching is that we, in the time to come we will let slip away all residual anger and hurt readying the world for the coming of Mashiah. In the name of Menasheh, all jealousy and anger, pettiness and spite will slip away inaugurating the Messianic era. The name Menasheh, when we scramble the letters, spells Neshamah, “soul.” Peeking out from within the gentle egoless nature that we ascribe to Menasheh, our soul opens up to the Divine. It is of interest and maybe of great meaning that the name Moshe is similar to Menasheh. Menasheh has an additional nun (the last letter in Heshvan as we have discussed above). The Midrash claims that Moshe “is the first redeemer and he is the final redeemer” (Shemot Rabbah 4:2; Zohar 1:253a; Sha’ar HaPesukim, Vayehi; Torah Or, Mishpatim). The Sod, secret, of Menasheh is that his name is Moshe+nun. In the Zohar we are taught that when Moshe first passed from this world he received the “50th gate” (of secret knowledge) and was “buried” in the Mishnah. Mishnah, when the letters are scrambled becomes Neshamah ‘soul’ which is also Menasheh and Moshe+nun. Imagine if we were to study Mishnah through the opened eye of Rational Kabbalah. We might discover our collective Neshamah and open the door for Mashiah to enter our lives and our realm.
The word for smell in Hebrew is Ray’ah. It shares a root with Ru’ah, the wind spirit of our soul. As we have seen, another word for soul is Neshamah, the permutation of Menasheh. The sense of smell is the only of the five common senses that is not implicated in the exile from the Garden. Our sense of smell is used in Mitzvot and there are several blessings for the smell of the wonders of this realm. TaNaCh hints that the sense of smell will be the first sense with which we recognize the Messianic Era. “And he shall smell in the awe of G”…”he shall judge by smell” (Isaiah 11:3 and Sanhedrin 93b). One could go so fare as to translate Ru’ah HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as ‘The sacred aroma.’
Body Part: intestines.
Jewish mystics are masters of connection. They connected the intestine to the sense of smell and the Mashiah. It works like this. The word intestines is dakin. Its root is, arguably Dalet Koof. Dak (DK) is ‘particle, subtle, thin’. It seems to point to refining, making fine. What bubbles up in one’s mind is the process of preparing the incense for the Temple. How is the Mitzvah of incense activated, through the Ray’ah Nechoah, the satisfying smell? This was part of the service when the Temple stood. When preparing, we are told, the priests would repeat again and again “grind well, grind well” (hadek heitev, heiteiv hadek: hadeik comes from DaK). And so the intestines are connected to the sense of smell and our soul. Now for one more goody.
Our sages interpret the phrase Ray’ah Nechoah as “a satisfying smell for G. And when do we first hear of such satisfaction, such a relationship between the Divine and the earthling? We find it within No’ah, the passage that we read last week. According to tradition, when did the sacrifice of No’ah take place. According to eye witnesses or the calculations of the sages, it was the 28th of Heshvan. On that date, G swore to No’ah never again to destroy the world by flood. In the way of sacrifice, it is the fats of the intestines that are a source of the Ray’ah Nechoah the “satisfying” aroma for G-d. Yet one more way in which intestines are connected to the sense of smell.
• The intestines are connected to the sense of smell.
• The sense of smell is connected to the soul.
• The soul is connected to Menasheh.
• Menasheh is connected to study and Moshe and Mashiah.
• Mashiah is connected to the Nahash and therefore to the Scorpion Akrav.
• Mashiah is also connected to the letter Nun.
• The letter nun is connected to Heshvan.
• Heshvan has no mitzvot because it represents the coming of Mashiah which symbolizes the end of duality.
The month of Heshvan is the hint and hope for a better world. Heshvan points to a world where anger slips away, where we smell the awe. Heshvan is the hope that duality will snake away, as we connect to each other, in this realm and all others.
May this Heshvan and the election that takes place in it bring the hint and hope to life.