Our Jewish calendar year is a series of moods. Anxious expectation in Elul. Angst-y introspection in Tishrei. And relieved relaxation in Cheshvan. Beyond the moods, there are the action items which the tradition prescribes for us. In September, it is repentance (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). In October, joy (Sukkot).
November doesn’t have any Jewish holidays, so I’d be natural for me to side with the rabbis of the Talmud, who nicknamed the month ‘Mar Cheshvan’, or ‘bitter Cheshvan’. But I prefer to dig deep and use the American holiday of Thanksgiving as an inspiration.
We all have natural inclinations with how to frame our lives. Introspective or extroverted; competitive or cooperative; with abundant happiness or quiet desperation.
For the next thirty days, it might be nice to take the feeling of gratitude out for a spin. Be grateful for the moments of our lives. Be thankful for small acts of kindness. Count our many blessings, while trying to downplay our travails. We will never have everything we want. We should instead be so very satisfied with what we’ve got. As Pirkei Avot teaches us: “who is happy? They that are contented with their lot.” Let’s be more than contented - let us be grateful.
-Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman