Floodwaters Around Us
November 5, 2000
© 2000 Light to the Nations, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights
Each month of the Hebrew calendar year has it own significance. Jewish
tradition instructs us that every month possess its own special character, and
a unique spiritual essence as well. It is this essence that reverberates
through the daily events that unfold and challenge us. The current month,
MarCheshvan, is singular in that it is the only month of the year that
features no holiday or special observance. Yet this unusual exception is
itself the source of this monthís distinct, unparalleled quality. For
MarCheshvan is laden with historical patterns, replete with Divine
appointment, and ripe with potential. Perhaps a deeper understanding of the
importance of this month, can aid in a better understanding of the challenges
we are currently facing.
According to our sages, Moses completed construction of the Tabernacle in the
month of Kislev, yet G-d commanded him to wait until the month of Nisan ≠ the
month in which our forefather Isaac was born ≠ for its dedication. But the
month of Kislev was "embarrassed" at the slight, so G-d paid it back
its reward during the days of the Second Temple, when the Chashmonaim
rededicated the Temple at Chanukah.
King Solomon built the First Temple and finished it during the month of
MarCheshvan, but was guided by Divine inspiration to postpone its dedication
until the following Tishrei. As in the case of the Tabernacle, the sages
relate that the month of MarCheshvan was "embarrassed" at being
passed over, and so the Holy One promised to pay it back in the future...He
pledged that the dedication of the Third Temple will take place in this month.
Thus we are assured that MarCheshvanís lack will be restored, and it will be
transformed from a month without holidays, to the time of the greatest
celebration of all.
So much for the Divine appointment and potential of this month. But what of
the historical patterns?
The accepted name of the month is actually "Cheshvan." However, the
prefix "mar" is added, and it is known as
"MarCheshvan" ≠ "bitter" Cheshvan, not only because there
are no celebrations or festival days of rejoicing, but because much travail
and suffering befell Israel and the world during these days. Firstly, this is
the time of the great flood. In the time of Noah, it was during this month
that G-d brought the floodwaters to rage on the world, until all existence was
obliterated. On the fifth of the month, the Chaldeans slaughtered the sons of
King Zedikiah in his presence, and blinded his eyes before putting him in
chains and bringing him to Babylon.
The Torah testifies that this was also the month in which the people of Israel
rebelled against the Kingdom of David, by placing Jeroboam as king over them:
"For he rent Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the
son of Nevat king, and Jeroboam drove Israel from following the L-rd, and made
them sin a great sin." (Kings II 17:21). On the fifteenth of this month,
Jeroboam contrived a new festival, and aroused Divine wrath against Israel:
"even in the month which he had devised of his own heart" (Kings I
It is taught that because the month of Cheshvan was stained by this rebellion
against David, the haters of Israel have traditionally sought to use this
month to pass new edicts and decrees, intensifying their campaigns of
And thus we can understand the significance of the ultimate rectification of
MarCheshvan, and why this month holds the promise of the eventual dedication
of the Third Temple: Since it was during this month that Israel sinned and
declared "What portion have we in David? Now see to your own house,
David" (Kings I 12:17), it will be in this month that the House of David
will reign and bring the world under the sovereignty of the Al-mighty, with
the dedication of the Holy Temple.
For so long, we have emphasized that the struggle that is now being waged in
Israel is a spiritual struggle over the destiny of Israel and her land. The
center of that struggle is Jerusalem, and the center of Jerusalem is the
Temple Mount. Thus the center of this struggle is the fate of the Temple
Mount. The Palestinians have been consistently honest about this. Almost daily
they make pronouncements about continuing their struggle until Jerusalem is
the capital of Palestine.
So, while we have discussed our hopes for this monthís potential, and what
could be achieved, in the meantime, no one is even pretending that "the
Temple Mount is in our hands." The Moslem Wakf authorities have closed
the Mount to all Jewish (and Christian) visitors since the violence began, and
there is no sign that it will be reopened in the near future. Even in better
days, before the violence began, the only place in the world where it is
forbidden for Jews to pray is the Temple Mount...the only place in the world
that is holy to the Jewish people for prayer. Now, in the month of the Third
Temple, the Temple Mount is off limits to Jews altogether, even to visit. Have
you seen this on CNN?
And there would appear to be many parallels between our present situation, in
this month of MarCheshvan, and situations in this month during ages past. Just
as Israel rebelled against David in those days, today her leaders still
emulate Jeroboam, striving to bring the people away from G-d. The
Israeli left, stubbornly clinging to Arafat as savior and deliverer, can only
be pitied. Devoid of faith and devoid of either historical perspective or any
sense of Jewish destiny and Jewish values, it simply has no alternative but to
go on believing in the idolatry they have created out of Arafat and his
promises. For them, there is nothing else to believe in...there is no plan.
Think about it: There is no plan.
Thus no matter what, Barak extends his deadline for Arafatís compliance. At
this hour, as in past weeks, Palestinians continue to confront IDF troops with
violence. Settlements and drivers are fired upon during the night. Israelis
are murdered. All-out war is waged against Israeli soldiers and civilians, but
the soldiers are instructed not to return fire...for in front of the armed
fighters, the Palestinians strategically place their own children in the front
lines (the Palestiniansí own version of Molech, child sacrifice...except
they pay each family compensation for the dead children, to encourage their
poor constituents to keep on sending the children). And while Arafat assures
Peres that he accepts Israelís positions, he wonít say it; publicly, he
and his officials call for the continuation and encouragement of
"peaceful protests" (so do Arab knesset members, who have sworn
"loyalty" to the State of Israel but who incite Israeli Arabs to
violence) until statehood with Jerusalem are achieved. Bombs may explode in
Jerusalemís market, Jews may die, but Arafat, who has broken every
cease-fire agreement he ever signed, is in favor of negotiations (accompanied
by violence) and so after the funerals, itís back to business as usual.
Yesterday we read the Biblical portion of Noah.
G-d told Noah that He planned on destroying the world, and He commanded him to
build an ark to save a representative of all life. Our sages teach: G-d had
many ways to accomplish His plan. Why did He bother with the construction of
this ark? They answer that this way, when the people of Noahís generation
saw him building the ark (it took him 120 years to do it), they would ask him
what it was all about. When he would tell them that G-d was planning on
bringing a flood to destroy the world, they would have a chance to repent...if
they were interested. They werenít.
If we are looking for parallels, what is the ark of our generation? What could
it be that G-d arranged for us to see and question, in order for us to change
our ways, if not reality itself: The unequivocal and unchanging declared
intent of the Palestinians to destroy Israel, to destroy the Jews, at all
costs, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many children they have to
sacrifice, and no matter how many agreements they have to sign.
"Afterwards the Children of Israel shall return, and seek the L-rd their
G-d, and David their king; and shall come trembling to the L-rd and His
goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:5)
Blessings for this month,
Rabbi Chaim Richman
THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE