Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…