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Thought for the Day: Why HaShem Gave Us Rosh Chodesh

I am very, very strict about wearing seat belts.  I don't move until everyone is belted, one person per belt.  (I've been known to make two trips rather than driving with double-belted passengers; much to the dismay of the passengers in the second group, I'm afraid.)  Yesterday my granddaughter released her seat belt when she thought I had already parked; I hadn't, I was still positioning the car.  All of the sudden I heard her call out, with great consternation, "Zeidy, please don't call the police!  I'm sorry!"  (Apparently Tati had at one time told her that it was the law that seat belts be fastened and she really didn't want to go to jail.)  I, of course, had no intention of calling the police; I was, just as of course, concerned that she had released the seat belt without confirmation that we had come to a full and complete stop at our terminal destination.

Sometimes we also make that mistake about our own sins.  We want to hide from HaShem and hope he doesn't notice our mistakes.  Of course He always does.  Why?  Because sins are not (simply) failure to comply with the rules; they are putting ourselves -- our eternal selves -- in danger.  HaShem certainly doesn't need us to follow His rules for Himself.  He does, however want us to follow His rule for ourselves.  While individual Jews can sometimes forget that, Klal Yisrael does know that; which separates us from the nations of the world and is why we were given Rosh Chodesh.

Let's talk about Rosh Chodesh.  All our other holidays have a spiritual and/or historical context.  Chag haPesash: our freedom from bondage.  Shavuos: giving of the Torah.  Sukkos: the clouds of glory that protected us in the wilderness.  Rosh Chodesh... umm... well...  Moreover, our calendar depends on Rosh Chodesh, all our holidays depend on Rosh Chodesh; Rosh Chodesh depends on two things: us and the moon.  We set Rosh Chodesh, not some astronomical event.  When the Torah tells us about the korbanos for Rosh Chodesh in parshas Pinchas (28:11), the term is: "roshei chodsheichem"/your new months.  Funny... it doesn't say (as the S'porno notes) shabboschem, chag pischeichem, sukkoschem, etc.  Rosh chodesh is really ours, in a very deep and fundamental way and it is very important to the whole year in a very deep and fundamental way.  Why?

The S'porno says that Klal Yisrael has an ancient attachment to the moon and its cycles because it is a dramatic reminder of who we are.  The moon has no light of its own; it's beauty is a reflection of light from the sun.  So too, our entire success in the world is wholly dependent on our ability to reflect the Creator of the world in thought and deed.  The waxing and waning of the moon reminds us that it is our own mistakes that cause us problems.  The phases of the moon are not due to any changes in the sun; that remains constant.  The waxing and waning are due to the motion of the moon; waxing as it reflects light to us better, waning the opposite.

As we move through our lives, as we wax and wane, we have the constant reminder of our calendar that we are responsible for our successes and failures.  Why was Rosh Chodesh given to use?  Because we learned the lesson and made it part of ourselves.


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