We just came off a Jewish month packed with holidays from Rosh Hashanah to Sukkot. We were exhilarated by their presence; it is somewhat of a letdown to enter the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, void of a single holiday. In fact, the month is often referred to as “Mar Cheshvan,” bitter Cheshvan.
Two modern tragic events occurred in Cheshvan: Kristalnacht, the night of broken glass, took place on the 15th of Cheshvan in 1938. Then on the 12th of Cheshvan in 1995, a fellow Jew assassinated Yitzhak Rabin.
In Torah, Cheshvan is called Chodesh Bul, marked by the great flood (i.e. Noah’s ark). According to Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, it began on the 17th and ended the following year on the 27th of Cheshvan. (It rained 40 days and 40 nights, but water remained on the earth much longer.) On the 28th, Noah brought his sacrifice to God, and God swore never to destroy the earth by flood again. He then revealed the rainbow.
Interestingly, our Sages teach that while Cheshvan contains no holidays, it’s reserved for the time of the Messiah, who will inaugurate the third Temple in Cheshvan.
Chabad explains we’re given Cheshvan after Tishrei to give us a chance to express the energy gleaned from the High Holidays. We need to take its mundane days and ignite them with service to God.