Menasheh: Tribe of Cheshvan

The tribe of Cheshvan is Menasheh (מְנַשֶׁה), the first-born but officially second son of Joseph.  That means the first two months of the spiritual year (Tishrei and Cheshvan) make up the “House of Joseph” in the Jewish Wheel of the Year.  Joseph is generally not counted in the listing of the tribes, because his birthright was passed to his sons with their adoption by Jacob.  The name Menasheh, according to many, means “Who Makes to Forget.”  I found this really interesing since his brother Ephraim‘s name means “doublely fruitful.”  The idea that the House of Joseph is both doubly fruitful and able to forget seems telling, especially since Cheshvan is often called “Mar Cheshvan” or “Bitter Cheshvan.”

During the time in the desert, the tribe of Menasheh was positioned with Benjamin to the West of Tabernacle.  Menasheh was on the side of the setting sun.  Sunset is a time of endings and beginnings.  In Jewish tradition our day begins when the sun goes down.  So Menasheh was the one on the side of the new day.  Maybe another lesson from Menasheh is to forget our anger as the sun sets in the West.

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