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reprinted from Arutz Sheva
Nov 03, '05 / 1 Cheshvan 5766

by Yishai Fleisher

Usually, people will tell you that this month, Cheshvan, is called Mar, bitter. Usually, people will tell you that we have no holidays this month either. However, if you flip Mar, it becomes Ram, which means "great". Indeed, this month is great, and it does have holidays.

In 1166, Maimonides, the Rambam, visited the Holy Land and this is what he wrote:
"We left Acco for Jerusalem under perilous conditions. I entered into 'the great and holy house' [the site of the Holy Temple] and prayed there, on the sixth day of the month of Cheshvan. And on the first day of the week, the ninth day of the month of Cheshvan, I left Jerusalem for Hebron to kiss the graves of my forefathers in the Cave of Machpela. And on that very day, I stood in the Cave and I prayed, praised be G-d for everything. And these two days, the sixth [when he prayed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem] and the ninth of Mar-Heshvan I vowed to make as a special holiday and in which I will rejoice with prayer, food and drink. May the Lord help me to keep my vows...."

So, the Rambam came to the Land and made aliyah to the holy places, and it was on the 6th and the 9th of Cheshvan that he vowed to celebrate every year.

The 11th of Cheshvan is the yahrzeit of Rachel Imeinu, the Matriarch Rachel. Rachel is closely associated with aliyah because of this famous passage (Yirmiyahu 31):

15. Thus says G-d: "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." 16. Thus says G-d: "Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded," says G-d; "and they shall come again from the land of the enemy." 17. "There is hope for your future," says G-d; "and your children shall come again to their own border."

Rachel weeps for her children, waiting for them to come home. When we do come home, it is important for us to come to her, to Kever Rachel, and to say: "Ima, we have finally come home to you." It is for this reason that the 11th of Cheshvan is a good day for the creation of a new Jewish holiday: Aliyah Day.

Also, every Cheshvan we read parshat Lech Lecha, the story of Abraham leaving his place of birth and being the first Jew to set foot on the Land of Israel (Bereishit 12):

1. Now G-d said to Abram, "Get out of your country, and from your relatives, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you. 2. I will make of you a great nation. I will bless you, and make your name great. You will be a blessing. 3. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you. In you will all of the families of the earth be blessed." 4. So Abram went, as G-d had spoken to him. Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5. Abram took Sarai his wife, Lot his brother's son, all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls who they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan. Into the land of Canaan they came. 6. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. The Canaanite was then in the land. 7. G-d appeared to Abram, and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." He built an altar there to G-d, who appeared to him. 8. He left from there to the mountain on the east of Beit El, and pitched his tent, having Beit El on the west, and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to G-d, and called on the name of G-d.

Finally, this month is a personal holiday for me, for it was in this month that my wife and I came to Israel, on the 7th of Cheshvan, and I too will celebrate this day, with the help of G-d.

May G-d gather us from the four corners of the world and may we merit to make aliyah and to keep making aliyah.

May the words of King David come true for us (Psalms 84):

5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in You; Who have set their hearts on a pilgrimage. 6. Passing through the valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs. Yes, the autumn rain covers it with blessings. 7. They go from strength to strength. Everyone of them appears before God in Zion.

Yishai Fleisher is the founder of Kumah, a pro-Aliyah grassroots movement and a show host on Arutz Sheva's Israel National Radio.



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