Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) – חדש ראש

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


Introduction. 1

Is Rosh Chodesh a festival?. 2

Shabbat Mevarchin. 5

The First Mitzva. 6

Synagogue Service: 8

The Torah for weekday Rosh Chodesh. 8

Kiddush Lavanah Synagogue Service. 9

Haftorah for Shabbat Erev Rosh Chodesh. 11

Torah, maftir, for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh. 12

Haftorah for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh: 12

Welcoming the Shechinah. 13

The Psalm for Rosh Chodesh. 14

A Sin-Offering for HaShem?. 16

During The Millennium.. 17

Customs. 18

Observations. 18

Rosh Chodesh and Shabbat 19

In the future. 20

Beginnings. 20

New Moon Calculations. 21

 

In this study I would like to examine Rosh Chodesh, the New Moon, as a mitzva and as a celebration.

 

The first Rosh Chodesh was Adam’s birthday. That first Rosh Chodesh was also Rosh HaShanah.[1] Man’s relationship with Rosh Chodesh, therefore, has special meaning as Adam’s birthday and the birthday of the world. That first Rosh Chodesh was also the day when Adam and Chava sinned and crashed the world. That fateful Rosh Chodesh was also the day that Adam repented and was forgiven.

 

 We know that Rosh HaShanah is a day of atonement for the sin of Adam, for it is the day which Adam sinned and was forgiven. Just as Rosh HaShanah is the first day of the solar cycle, so too Rosh Chodesh is the first day of the lunar cycle. On Rosh Hashana we do not bring the sacrifice of Rosh Chodesh. The Gemara, in Eruvin, explains that one korban is sufficient for Rosh HaShanah and for Rosh Chodesh. Rav Tzadok explains that both korbanot come to atone for the same sin, the sin of Adam HaRishon.[2]

 

Rosh Chodesh has a special Maftir and a special ashlamata (Haftorah) festival readings which are read, in addition to the normal Torah portion and ashlamata, on Shabbat. These readings interrupt both the the Annual and the Triennial / Septennial Torah cycles.

 

Introduction

 

Rosh Chodesh literally means, "beginning renewal" and idiomatically means the "beginning of the month" or "new moon". Strong’s renders the following definition:

 

7218 ro'sh, roshe; from an unused root appar. mean. to shake; the head (as most easily shaken), whether lit. or fig. (in many applications, of place, time, rank, etc.):-band, beginning, captain, chapiter, chief (- est place, man, things), company, end, X every [man], excellent, first, forefront, ([be-]) head, height, (on) high (-est part, [priest]), X lead, X poor, principal, ruler, sum, top.

 

2320 chodesh, kho'-desh; from 2318; the new moon; by impl. a month:-month (- ly), new moon.

 

--------------- Dictionary Trace ---------------

2318 chadash, khaw-dash'; a prim. root; to be new; caus. to rebuild:-renew, repair.

 

The calculations for Rosh Chodesh were the fulfillment of prophecy and they represented great wisdom:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:5-6 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as HaShem my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people."

 

"You shall guard and you shall do..." Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahman said in the name of Rebbe Yonatan, from where do we know that it is a mitzva for each man to calculate the seasons and the months? It is written, "You shall guard and you shall do, for it is evidence, in the eyes of the nations, of the wisdom and understanding that has been given to you."

 

What is the wisdom and understanding that Israel possesses "in the eyes of the nations"? We must say that it refers to the calculation of the seasons and months. Concerning one who knows how to calculate and does not do so, the verse says:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 5:12 They did not contemplate HaShem's deeds, and they have not paid attention to the work of His hands.

 

The difference between Israel and the nations of the world is that we use a lunar calendar and they use a solar calendar. "The sun and the moon can be said to represent these two opposing viewpoints. The sun is constant and unchanging. Its fixed path symbolizes the nations' belief that the world has always existed and that nothing new is ever introduced by a higher guiding Hand. The moon, on the other hand, is constantly changing. This symbolizes the faith of Israel, who see the whole of nature as something new and innovative, that is under constant supervision and that therefore has the potential for change." It was later given to the women since they had not ever abandoned this faith in HaShem's guidance by making the Golden Calf. "Rosh Chodesh is the day that emphasizes our separation from the nations. Jews believe in the world's creation from nothing and in all the consequences of that belief. Our lives are therefore always being renewed in HaShem's service and are constantly filled with vitality." This perspective is brought out vividly in the Talmud:

 

Succah 29a It was taught: R. Meir said, Whenever the luminaries are in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel since they are inured to blows. This may be compared to a school teacher who comes to school with a strap in his hand. Who becomes apprehensive? He who is accustomed to be daily punished. Our Rabbis taught, When the sun is in eclipse it is a bad omen for idolaters; when Lavanah (Moon) is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel, since Israel reckons by Lavanah (Moon) and idolaters by the sun. If it is in eclipse in the east, it is a bad omen for those who dwell in the east; if in the west, it is a bad omen for those who dwell in the west; if in the midst of heaven it is bad omen for the whole world. If its face is red as blood, [it is a sign that] the sword is coming to the world; if it is like sack-cloth, the arrows of famine are coming to the world; if it resembles both, the sword and the arrows of famine are coming to the world. If the eclipse is at sunset calamity will tarry in its coming; if at dawn, it hastens on its way: but some say the order is to be reversed. And there is no nation which is smitten that its gods are not smitten together with it, as it is said, And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments. But when Israel fulfill the will of the Omnipresent, they need have no fear of all these [omens] as it is said, Thus saith HaShem,' Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the nations are dismayed at them, the idolaters will be dismayed, but Israel will not be dismayed.

 

Is Rosh Chodesh a festival?

 

The Torah seems to place Rosh Chodesh on a par with the other festivals. In Numbers chapter 28, the musaf (additional) services for Rosh Chodesh are listed along with the other festivals. The order, in Numbers 28 and 29, is:

 

 morning (Shacharit)

 afternoon (Mincha)

 Shabbat

 Rosh Chodesh

 Pesach

 Hag ha-Matzah the first day

 Hag ha-Matzah the seventh day

 Hag ha-Bikkurim - Shavuot

 Yom Teruah

 Yom HaKippurim

 Succoth

 

The Rosh Chodesh sacrifices are identical in number and in kind with those of Pesach and Shavuot. In post Temple times, a musaf service was established for Rosh Chodesh along with the other festivals. Rosh Chodesh was marked by many festive elements. There was a celebratory meal, and family gatherings were a natural for such occasions:

 

I Shmuel (Samuel) 20:18-29 Then Jonathan said to David: "Tomorrow is the New Moon festival. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. Then I will send a boy and say, 'Go, find the arrows.' If I say to him, 'Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,' then come, because, as surely as HaShem lives, you are safe; there is no danger. But if I say to the boy, 'Look, the arrows are beyond you,' then you must go, because HaShem has sent you away. And about the matter you and I discussed--remember, HaShem is witness between you and me forever." So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon festival came, the king sat down to eat. He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan, and Abner sat next to Saul, but David's place was empty. Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, "Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean--surely he is unclean." But the next day, the second day of the month, David's place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, "Why hasn't the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?" Jonathan answered, "David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. He said, 'Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.' That is why he has not come to the king's table."

 

After the Beit Din had sanctified the new moon and uttered a blessing to HaShem, special additional (Mussaf) offerings were presented to HaShem.

 

The traditional service includes a candle lit to burn for twenty-four hours. Some use a floating light because it resembles the moon floating in the sky. As on the Sabbath or festivals, two challot (special egg bread) are served; they are round or crescent shaped, preferably, thus invoking the shape of the moon. A new fruit will be sought for the menu for the sake of making a Shehecheyanu. The egg soup, traditionally served at the seder, is often included as a symbol of life immersed in liquid. A quiche of circular shape, or a nut loaf, are popular choices for the menu. During the meal, zemirot such as verses from the Hallel or special Rosh Chodesh songs are sung.

 

Over the course of later history, by association, the day was considered especially appropriate for housewarmings, dedications, wearing new clothes, and saying Shehecheyanu over new fruit. It was also called the day of good beginnings (Remember that all things go after the beginning as it is the most potent moment – we shall look at this concept a bit later.).

 

The joyous spirit of the day, in biblical times, is suggested by two references:

 

Bamidbar (Numbers)10:10 Also at your times of rejoicing--your appointed feasts and New Moon festivals--you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am HaShem your God."

 

Hosea 2:11 I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days--all her appointed feasts.

 

HaShem does not specifically call Rosh Chodesh a rest day, but it is alluded to in:

 

Amos 8:4-7 Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land Saying, "When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?"--skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, Buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat. HaShem has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: "I will never forget anything they have done.

 

Rosh Chodesh was celebrated only eleven times a year. In Tishri, Yom Teruah coincides with Rosh Chodesh; to this day, the new moon of Tishri is not proclaimed in advance, in the synagogue; Yom Teruah rather than Rosh Chodesh is dominant liturgically.

 

The Torah does not list Rosh Chodesh with HaShem’s festivals in Leviticus chapter 23, never the less it is a festival as we shall see. Lets note that Rosh Chodesh is specifically called a day of rejoicing in this passage from the Torah and is put on a par with Shabbat and the other festivals:

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 10:1-10 HaShem said to Moses: "Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out. When both are sounded, the whole community is to assemble before you at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. If only one is sounded, the leaders--the heads of the clans of Israel--are to assemble before you. When a trumpet blast is sounded, the tribes camping on the east are to set out. At the sounding of a second blast, the camps on the south are to set out. The blast will be the signal for setting out. To gather the assembly, blow the trumpets, but not with the same signal. "The sons of Aaron, the priests, are to blow the trumpets. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you and the generations to come. When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by HaShem your God and rescued from your enemies. Also at your times of rejoicing--your appointed feasts and New Moon festivals--you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am HaShem your God."

 

In the Nazarean Codicil, Rosh Chodesh is put on a par with Shabbat and the other festivals:

 

Colossians 2:16-17 Let no man therefore condemn you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath: 17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body  of Mashiach.

 

There are several other things which connect the festivals with Rosh Chodesh:

 

  1. We rest on festivals; women rest on Rosh Chodesh[3]. Some have a minhag to reduce work on Rosh Chodesh.
  2. We have a Musaf for festivals; we have a Musaf for Rosh Chodesh.
  3. We have special additions (yaale v’yavo) to the Amida for festivals; we have special additions (yaale v’yavo) to the Amida for Rosh Chodesh.
  4. We have special sacrifices on the festivals; we have special sacrifices on Rosh Chodesh[4] (Two oxen, a ram, seven lambs and their respective libations of wine, flour, and oil Numbers 28:11-15).
  5. We have special Torah and Ashlamata (from Parshat Pinchas) for festivals; we have a special Torah and Ashlamata for Rosh Chodesh (from Parshat Pinchas). These special readings interrupt the triennial Torah cycle.
  6. We have additional aliyot on festivals; we have an additional aliya on Rosh Chodesh.
  7. We say Hallel on Festivals; we say half Hallel on Rosh Chodesh[5].
  8. Fasting (mourning) is forbidden on the festivals; fasting (mourning) is forbidden on Rosh Chodesh[6].
  9. We eat special meals in honor of the  festivals; we eat a special meal or food in honor of Rosh Chodesh[7].
  10. We wear special clothes for festivals; we wear special clothes for Rosh Chodesh.
  11. Festivals are called Moedim; Rosh Chodesh is called moed[8].
  12. We light candles for festivals; some Sephardim light a candle on Rosh Chodesh.
  13. Sustenance for festivals is not fixed on Rosh HaShana; sustenance for Rosh Chodesh is not fixed on Rosh HaShana[9].

 

As to the minhag to recite Half Hallel on Rosh Chodesh, Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik in his Yahrzeit Sheur on 4 Tevet, 5717, explained the statement in Arachin 10b, Rosh Chodesh, which is called moed, should require the recitation of Hallel. There is no prohibition to work on this day" as follows: A festival such as Passover possesses sanctity because of:

a) Musaf the additional-sacrifice offered in the Temple;

b) Prohibition of work;

c) Obligation to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem;

d) Special mitzvot such as matza.

All festivals have one or more of these qualities. Rosh Chodesh, however, is distinguished only by musaf and is thus a festival in the Temple only, where Hallel was recited as din (law) not minhag. The minhag to recite Hallel on Rosh Chodesh consists in extending the sanctity from the Temple to Jewish communities outside its precincts.

 

The day before Rosh Chodesh is also known as  Yom HaKippurim Katan. This means that the day before Rosh Chodesh is a minor Yom HaKippurim. The devout will fast on the last day of the month and reflect upon his actions on the first day of the month.

 

The Talmud[10] quotes an amazing comment of Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish that the he‑goat offered on Rosh Chodesh is called "a sin offering unto the Lord" because it is an atonement for HaShem Himself for having made the moon smaller than the sun. Arising out of this is the idea, expressed in the Rosh Chodesh liturgy, that Rosh Chodesh affords pardon for Israel's sins. Additionally, during the Musaf prayer service of Rosh Chodesh, we call Rosh Chodesh a "time of atonement". Thus in atonement, we see another connection between the festivals and Rosh Chodesh.

 

Shabbat Mevarchin

 

The Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh is known as Shabbat Mevarchin, which means "the Sabbath of blessing." We have an additional ashlamata (1 Shmuel 20:18-42) to prepare us for this special day. After the Torah reading in the Shabbat service, the prayer leader holds the Torah scroll, recites a blessing hoping for a good month, then announces the day of the upcoming week when the new month will begin and the name of the new month.

 

Shabbat Mevarchin is not observed during the month of Elul to announce the beginning of the month of Tishri, the month in which Rosh HaShana (the Jewish New Year) occurs.

 

Thus we announce Rosh Chodesh ahead of time, but we do not announce for festivals. This would seem to give special significance to Rosh Chodesh.

 

Finally, when the Sanhedrin sanctified the new moon it set the calendar date for the festivals of that month. The date of the festivals, therefore, depended on the new moon for their proper celebration. Rosh HaShana, which falls on Rosh Chodesh, is a festival which no one no the day or hour it begins because it’s beginning depends on the sanctification of the new moon. We have a midrash that makes this point:  The angels ask HaShem, "When is Rosh HaShana?" "I do not know," HaShem responds. "Let us all go down to the bet din and see what they have decreed."

 

The First Mitzva

 

The first mitzva given to the congregation of Israel is:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:1-2 HaShem said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.”

 

This is the very first commandment given to the nation as a whole, an indication that the concept of Rosh Chodesh, or the New Moon, is very meaningful. Moreover, a thousand years later in eretz Israel, during the period of Syrian-Greek persecution that culminated in the miracle of Chanukah, Rosh Chodesh was one of only three commandments whose observance the oppressors prohibited. The other two forbidden commandments were the Sabbath and circumcision; that Rosh Chodesh was on a plane with those central observances is sufficient indication of its great significance.

 

This can be understood on two levels. Only the court can proclaim Rosh Chodesh based on the testimony of witnesses who observed the re-appearance of the moon, and upon this proclamation, the Jewish calendar is based. Unless the new months can be proclaimed, there is no calendar, and without a calendar, there can be no festivals. Thus, if the Syrian-Greeks had succeeded in eradicating the observance of Rosh Chodesh, they would have succeeded in eliminating large numbers of other mitzvot, as well.

 

Thus we see that the first command, given to the congregation of Israel, was to:

 

1. Set up a calendar, based on the moon,

2. With Nisan as the first month.

 

Notice that this first command is given to Moses and Aaron as representing the highest authority in the nation. From this, it is derived that the authority for sanctifying the new moon and for establishing the order of the months lies with the highest authority in the nation, namely the Sanhedrin, as the Talmud relates:

 

Rosh HaShana 22a MISHNA. IF A FATHER AND A SON HAVE SEEN THE NEW MOON, THEY SHOULD BOTH GO [TO JERUSALEM], NOT THAT THEY CAN ACT AS JOINT WITNESSES[11] BUT SO THAT IF ONE OF THEM IS DISQUALIFIED[12] THE OTHER MAY JOIN WITH SOME OTHER WITNESS. R. SIMEON, HOWEVER, SAYS THAT A FATHER AND SON AND ALL RELATIVES ARE ELIGIBLE TO TESTIFY TO THE APPEARANCE OF THE NEW MOON. R. JOSE SAID: IT HAPPENED ONCE WITH TOBIAH THE PHYSICIAN THAT HE SAW THE NEW MOON IN JERUSALEM ALONG WITH HIS SON AND HIS EMANCIPATED SLAVE, AND THE PRIESTS ACCEPTED HIS EVIDENCE AND THAT OF HIS SON AND DISQUALIFIED HIS SLAVE, BUT WHEN THEY APPEARED BEFORE THE BETH DIN THEY ACCEPTED HIS EVIDENCE AND THAT OF HIS SLAVE AND DISQUALIFIED HIS SON.

 

GEMARA. R. Levi said: What is the reason of R. Simeon? — Because it is written, and the Lord spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months,[13] which implies, ‘this testimony shall be valid [when given] by you’.[14] And the Rabbis? — [It implies], this evidence shall be entrusted to you.[15]

 

This authority is reiterated in:

 

Rosh HaShana 25a Our Rabbis taught: Once the heavens were covered with clouds and the likeness of the moon was seen on the twenty-ninth of the month. The public were minded to declare New Moon, and the Beth din wanted to sanctify it, but Rabban Gamaliel said to them: I have it on the authority of the house of my father's father that the renewal of the moon takes place after not less than twenty-nine days and a half and two-thirds of an hour and seventy-three halakin.[16] On that day the mother of Ben Zaza died, and Rabban Gamaliel made a great funeral oration over her, not because she had merited it, but so that the public should know that the Beth din had not sanctified the month.[17]

 

'HaShem said to Moses and to Aaron: "... this month shall be for you the beginning of months ..." And at the moment when Moses our teacher received this command, the Holy One, blessed be He, transmitted to him the precise rules for intercalating the New Moon. Thus He made known to Moses the method for establishing the times and the seasons.'[18]

 

Moses and Aaron were told by HaShem, in the oral law[19], that normally there should be two witnesses who actually see the new moon, in order to sanctify it on the thirtieth day. If no witnesses come on the thirtieth day, it is automatically sanctified on the thirty-first day.

 

Sanhedrin 10b THE INTERCALATION[20] OF THE MONTH BY THREE. [The Tanna of the Mishna] mentions neither the ‘calculation’[21] nor the ‘sanctification’[22] , but the INTERCALATION of the month. [Why then the need of three for this?] Suppose it is not sanctified [on the thirtieth day] it will then be automatically intercalated! — Abaye therefore said: Read then, THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE MONTH. It is also taught to the same effect: The sanctification of the month and the intercalation of the year is to be determined by three. So R. Meir holds. But, asked Raba, does not the Mishna say, the INTERCALATION? — Hence, said Raba, the Mishnah means that the sanctification made on INTERCALATION, that is on the intercalary day,[23] is determined by three; but on the day after it there is to be no sanctification. And this represents the opinion of R. Eliezer b. Zadok, as it has been taught: R. Eliezer b. Zadok says: If the new moon has not been visible in time, there is no need for the Sanctification next day, as it has already been sanctified in Heaven.[24]

 

Many assume that the witnesses were necessary because the Sanhedrin lacked the ability to calculate the time of the new moon. This is not born out by the facts. Consider: Why would the witnesses look on the thirtieth day, except they knew that that was the first time it might be visible. Also we should note that the last Sanhedrin calculated the new moons so accurately that they were able to sanctify every new moon for nearly two thousand years!

 

Synagogue Service:

 

The Temple services were given to King David in a dream and written down for his son, Solomon, as we can see from this next passage:

 

Divrei Hayamim (I Chronicles) 28:11-19 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of HaShem and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of HaShem, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service. He designated the weight of gold for all the gold articles to be used in various kinds of service, and the weight of silver for all the silver articles to be used in various kinds of service: The weight of gold for the gold lamp stands and their lamps, with the weight for each lamp stand and its lamps; and the weight of silver for each silver lamp stand and its lamps, according to the use of each lamp stand; The weight of gold for each table for consecrated bread; the weight of silver for the silver tables; The weight of pure gold for the forks, sprinkling bowls and pitchers; the weight of gold for each gold dish; the weight of silver for each silver dish; And the weight of the refined gold for the altar of incense. He also gave him the plan for the chariot, that is, the cherubim of gold that spread their wings and shelter the ark of the covenant of HaShem. "All this," David said, "I have in writing from the hand of HaShem upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.”

 

Since the synagogue service is modeled after the Temple service, it would be instructive to see what is done in the synagogue today. We’ll start by examining the readings from the Tanakh[25]:

 

The Torah for weekday Rosh Chodesh

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:1-15 HaShem said to Moses, "Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: 'See that you present to me at the appointed time the food for my offerings made by fire, as an aroma pleasing to me.' Say to them: 'This is the offering made by fire that you are to present to HaShem: two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day. Prepare one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight, Together with a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from pressed olives. This is the regular burnt offering instituted at Mount Sinai as a pleasing aroma, an offering made to HaShem by fire. The accompanying drink offering is to be a quarter of a hin of fermented drink with each lamb. Pour out the drink offering to HaShem at the sanctuary. Prepare the second lamb at twilight, along with the same kind of grain offering and drink offering that you prepare in the morning. This is an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to HaShem. "'On the Sabbath day, make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. "'On the first of every month, present to HaShem a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. With each bull there is to be a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; And with each lamb, a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is for a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to HaShem by fire. With each bull there is to be a drink offering of half a hin of wine; with the ram, a third of a hin; and with each lamb, a quarter of a hin. This is the monthly burnt offering to be made at each new moon during the year. Besides the regular burnt offering with its drink offering, one male goat is to be presented to HaShem as a sin offering.

 

Kiddush Lavanah Synagogue Service

 

Psalm 148:1-6 Halleluyah! Praise HaShem from the heavens; praise Him in the heights. Praise Him, all bright stars, Praise Him, the most exalted of the heavens and the waters that are above the heavens. Let them praise the Name of HaShem, for He commanded and they were created. And He established them forever and ever, He issued a decree that will not change.

 

One should look at the moon before reciting this blessing:

 

Blessed are You, HaShem our God, King of the universe whose word created the heavens, whose breath created all that they contain. Statutes and seasons He set for them, that they should not deviate from their assigned task. Happily, gladly they do the will of their Creator, whose work is dependable. To the moon He spoke: renew yourself, crown of glory for those who were borne in the womb, who also are destined to be renewed and to extol their Creator for His glorious sovereignty. Blessed are You, HaShem who renews the months.

 

Recite three times:

 

Blessed is your Molder; blessed is your Maker; blessed is your Owner; blessed is your Creator.

 

Recite three times:

Upon reciting the next verse, rise on the toes as if in dance

 

Just as I dance towards you but cannot touch you, so may none of my enemies be able to touch me for evil.

 

Recite three times:

 

Let fall upon them fear and terror; at the greatness of Your arm, let them be still as stone.

 

Recite three times:

 

As stone let them be still, at Your arm’s greatness; terror and fear, upon them let fall.

 

Recite three times:

 

David, King of Israel, is alive and enduring.

 

Extend greetings to three different people:

 

Shalom Alechem (peace be with you!)

 

Alechem shalom (Upon you, peace!)

 

Recite three times:

 

May there be a good sign and a good fortune for us and for all Israel. Amen.

 

Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) 2:8-9 - The voice of my beloved - Behold! It came suddenly, leaping over mountains, skipping over hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart. Behold! He was standing behind our wall, observing through the windows, peering through the lattices.

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 121 - A song to the ascents. I raise my eyes to the mountains; whence will come my help? My help is from HaShem, Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to falter; your Guardian will not slumber. Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps - the Guardian of Israel. HaShem is your Guardian; HaShem is your Shade at your right hand. By day the sun will not harm you, nor the moon by night. HaShem will protect you from every evil; He will guard your soul. HaShem will guard your departure and your arrival, from this time and forever.

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 150 - Halleluyah! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the firmament of His power. Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise His as befits His abundant greatness. Praise Him with the blast of the shofar; praise Him with lyre and harp. Praise Him with drum and dance; praise Him with organ and flute. Praise Him with clanging cymbals; praise Him with resonant trumpets. Let all souls praise God, Halleluyah!

 

The academy of Rabbi Yishmael taught: Had Israel not been privileged to greet the countenance of their Father in Heaven except for once a month, it would have sufficed them. Abaye said: Therefore one must recite it while standing.

 

Who is this who rises from the desert clinging to her Beloved!

 

May it be Your will, HaShem, my God and the God of my forefathers, to fill the flaw of the moon that there be no diminution in it. May the light of the moon be like the light of the sun and like the light of the seven days of creation, as it was before it was diminished, as it is said: ‘The two great luminaries.’ And may there be fulfilled upon us the verse that is written: They shall seek HaShem, their God, and David, their king. Amen

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 67 - For the Conductor, upon Neginos, a psalm, a song. May God favor us and bless us, may He illuminate His countenance with us, Selah. To make known Your way on earth, among all the nations Your salvation. The peoples will acknowledge You, O God, the peoples will acknowledge You, all of them. Nations will be glad and sing for joy, because You will judge the peoples fairly and guide the nations on earth, Selah. Then peoples will acknowledge You, all of them. The earth has yielded its produce, may God, our own God, bless us. May God bless us and may all the ends of the earth fear Him.

 

(Aleinu and V’Anachnu)

 

It is incumbent upon us to praise the Master of all, to exalt the creator of the world, for He has made us distinct from the nations and unique among the families of the earth. Our destiny is not like theirs, our calling is our task.

 

We therefore bow in awe and thanksgiving before the One who is sovereign over all, the Holy One, blessed be He. For He stretched forth the heavens like a tent and established the earth. Truly there is none like our Lord and King. As the Torah says, "You shall know this day and reflect in your heart that it is the Lord who is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, there is none else."

 

We hope, HaShem our God, to soon behold Your majestic glory when all abominations shall be removed and all false gods shall be at an end.

 

Then shall the world be perfected under the rule of the Lord Almighty and all mankind shall call upon Your name. For to You every knee must bow and every tongue declare that You are God.

 

Reign over us soon and forever. May the kingdom of David's greater son be established forever.

 

For then shall the words be fulfilled, "HaShem shall be king forever", and, "HaShem shall be king over all the earth; on that day HaShem shall be one, and his name one." – Tehillim (Psalm) 104:1-2, Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:39, Tehillim (Psalm) 10:16, Zechariah 14:9

 

End of synagogue service.

 

Haftorah for Shabbat Erev Rosh Chodesh

 

I Shmuel (Samuel) 20:18-42 Then Jonathan said to David: "Tomorrow is the New Moon festival. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. Then I will send a boy and say, 'Go, find the arrows.' If I say to him, 'Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,' then come, because, as surely as HaShem lives, you are safe; there is no danger. But if I say to the boy, 'Look, the arrows are beyond you,' then you must go, because HaShem has sent you away. And about the matter you and I discussed--remember, HaShem is witness between you and me forever." So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon festival came, the king sat down to eat. He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan, and Abner sat next to Saul, but David's place was empty. Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, "Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean--surely he is unclean." But the next day, the second day of the month, David's place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, "Why hasn't the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?" Jonathan answered, "David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. He said, 'Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.' That is why he has not come to the king's table." Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he must die!" "Why should he be put to death? What has he done?" Jonathan asked his father. But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David. Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the month he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father's shameful treatment of David. In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, And he said to the boy, "Run and find the arrows I shoot." As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. When the boy came to the place where Jonathan's arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, "Isn't the arrow beyond you?" Then he shouted, "Hurry! Go quickly! Don't stop!" The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. (The boy knew nothing of all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, "Go, carry them back to town." After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side [of the stone] and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together--but David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of HaShem, saying, 'HaShem is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.'" Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.

 

It is apparent from the above passage that, even in the days of Samuel and Saul, already Israel was celebrating Rosh Chodesh, the New Moon, for two days. We celebrate for two days when the preceding month is twenty-nine days.

 

Rosh HaShana 19b R. Joshua b. Levi testified on behalf of the holy community of Jerusalem concerning the two Adars, that they are sanctified on the day of their prolongation.[26] This is equivalent to saying that we make them defective but we do not make them full, and excludes the statement made in a discourse by R. Nahman b. Hisda; [for R. Nahman b. Hisda stated in a discourse]: ‘R. Simai testified in the name of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi concerning the two Adars that if they [the Beth din] desired they could make both of them full, and if they desired they could make both of them, defective, and if they desired they could make one full and the other defective; and such was their custom in the Diaspora. In the name of our teacher,[27] however, they said: One is always to be full and the next defective, unless you have been informed that New Moon has been fixed at its proper time’.[28]

 

Torah, maftir, for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:9-15 "'On the Sabbath day, make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. "'On the first of every month, present to HaShem a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. With each bull there is to be a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; And with each lamb, a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is for a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to HaShem by fire. With each bull there is to be a drink offering of half a hin of wine; with the ram, a third of a hin; and with each lamb, a quarter of a hin. This is the monthly burnt offering to be made at each new moon during the year. Besides the regular burnt offering with its drink offering, one male goat is to be presented to HaShem as a sin offering.

 

Haftorah for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 66:1-24 This is what HaShem says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares HaShem. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a man, and whoever offers a lamb, like one who breaks a dog's neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig's blood, and whoever burns memorial incense, like one who worships an idol. They have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their abominations; So I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring upon them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me." Hear the word of HaShem, you who tremble at his word: "Your brothers who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, 'Let HaShem be glorified, that we may see your joy!' Yet they will be put to shame. Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of HaShem repaying his enemies all they deserve. "Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says HaShem. "Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God. "Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance." For this is what HaShem says: "I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem." When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of HaShem will be made known to his servants, but his fury will be shown to his foes. See, HaShem is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with his sword HaShem will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by HaShem. "Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things--they will meet their end together," declares HaShem. "And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory. "I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations--to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to HaShem--on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels," says HaShem. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of HaShem in ceremonially clean vessels. And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites," says HaShem. "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares HaShem, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says HaShem. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

 

Welcoming the Shechinah[29]

 

Since Kiddush Lavanah is considered to be an act of greeting the Shechinah, its blessing is distinguished from other blessings in the requirement that it be recited while standing, at a time of joy, while dressed in fine clothing, and in public, as if one were going out to greet a King.

 

The blessing for the new moon is generally recited on motzie Shabbat, before the tenth day of the month, or on the first day that the new moon is visible, in fulfillment of the principle that the diligent fulfill mitzvot at the first possible opportunity. During the winter, it is not advisable to wait for motzie Shabbat for fear of clouds.

 

In the month of Sivan, Kiddush Lavanah is recited on motzie Shabbat so as to combine the blessing with the joy of the festival.

 

Even if one recites the blessing during the week, rather than on motzie Shabbat, it is appropriate that he wear fine clothing in honor of this mitzva and that he purify his spirit and his heart before the act of welcoming the Shechinah.

 

During the month of Av, because of the spirit of mourning that prevails, Kiddush Lavanah is not said before the ninth of the month. The custom is to recite it after the end of the fast on the ninth of Av, but to eat something first. Similarly, because of our preoccupation with the anguish of our sins before they are forgiven, during Tishri, Kiddush Lavanah is not recited before Yom HaKippurim. Rather, we wait until the end of the fast and recite Kiddush Lavanah when we leave the synagogue and prior to eating. Among Sephardic communities, the custom is to recite Kiddush Lavanah before Yom HaKippurim so that one may have an additional source of merit prior to his judgment.

 

In accord with the view of the Vilna Gaon, it is customary in many Jerusalem synagogues not to wait for after Tisha B’Av or after Yom HaKippurim before reciting Kiddush Lavanah but to abide by the principle that the diligent fulfill mitzvot at the earliest opportunity.

 

Those who are especially careful in fulfilling the mitzvot make every effort to recite Kiddush Lavanah with a minyan, in fulfillment of the verse:

 

Mishlei (Proverbs) 14:28 The King’s glory is in the multitudes.

 

When reciting Kiddush Lavanah, one should not stand under a roof; nor should it be said while one is looking through a window or an open door. Rather one should go outside, as one would do were he greeting a king. However, if one finds it difficult to leave his home, the blessing may be recited inside, provided that the door or window through which he can see the moon is open and that there is nothing intervening between his eyes and the moon. If the glass of the window is clean and he can see through it clearly, one may recite the blessing without opening the window if he cannot open it because of the cold, etc.

 

Kiddush Lavanah is not recited before three full days and nights have passed from the time of the molad, the appearance of the new moon. Some authorities say, until seven full days and nights have passed. It may be recited until one half of the moon has passed; i.e., until the point that is halfway between the molad of that month and the molad of the coming month, since up to then the moon is in the process of renewal and achieving fullness. After half of the month has passed, the moon begins to diminish and Kiddush Lavanah may not be said.

 

Although Kiddush Lavanah is not recited on Shabbat, i.e. Friday night, or on festival nights, if it will be impossible to recite it on the next night, e.g. if Shabbat or the festival is the last night of the month on which one can recite it, it may be said.

 

Women do not recite Kiddush Lavanah.

 

When reciting the blessing, one should first look up at the moon so as to see it at the time of the blessing, but should not look at it while reciting the entire service, for we pray not to the moon but to the He Who created it. When reciting the blessing, one should stand in a manner befitting the service.

 

Among some communities, it is customary to sing and dance after Kiddush Lavanah.

 

The Psalm for Rosh Chodesh

 

Rosh Chodesh is a monthly festival, as is of course witnessed in the cycle of the moon. Renewal can be seen as starting over after a series of failings. Renewal can also be seen as a beginning at a new stage after the completion of a prior stage. In the psalm of Rosh Chodesh, Tehillim 104, we find a description of the functioning of the world. Every piece of creation has been set in its place. The water, land, and trees have all been set firmly. Animal life has been set into motion. Man again functions in his created role. This can be viewed as a renewal of creation as it was meant to be when the first Shabbat settled upon the earth. Hence it is renewal: we find that it refers not merely to the original creation, but to a future creation when sins will be wiped off the earth, and evil doers will be no more. This “back to the futureexperience is the goal of Rosh Chodesh. This is a renewed world, a messianic view of the already existing world.

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 104:1-35 Praise HaShem, O my soul. HaShem my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent And lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; They flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth. He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate--bringing forth food from the earth: Wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart. The trees of HaShem are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees. The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys. The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening. How many are your works, HaShem! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number--living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. May the glory of HaShem endure forever; may HaShem rejoice in his works-- He who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to HaShem all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in HaShem. But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Praise HaShem, O my soul. Praise HaShem.

 

What blessing can't you say when you're on the moon?

 

Answer: Kiddush Lavanah, the blessing on seeing the New Moon. (In Sephardic communities it is called “Birchat Ha-Lavanah”, The blessing of the moon.)

 

The blessing said when sighting the New Moon can be recited only at night when you can benefit from the moon's light. Even at night, if it's cloudy and you see only a vague image of the moon you don't say the blessing, since you don't benefit from its rays. So too, if you were actually standing on the moon you wouldn't be able to say the blessing of Kiddush Lavanah, because you wouldn't be deriving benefit from the moon's rays![30]

 

* * *

 

Historically, the Torah records that Rosh Chodesh was celebrated in the past. We can see this in:

 

I Shmuel (Samuel) 20:18 Then Jonathan said to David: "Tomorrow is the New Moon. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty.

 

This passage is read on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh. This passage is rife with connections to Rosh Chodesh.

 

First, and most obvious, is the fact that Rosh Chodesh is tomorrow. Historically we know that this was a period of transition between the kingship of Benyamin (Saul) and the kingship of Judah (David). This is the transition from one month to the next. It is analogous to a new king taking the throne. As the reign of Saul was waning, the reign of David was coming.

 

We can see that Saul’s son, Jonathan, is not planning on continuing his father’s reigns, but rather he is doing what he can to prepare the world for the reign of the new dynasty. The family of Benyamin was responsible for the eradication of Amalek. Once king Saul failed in this task, the stage was set for the rise of the dynasty of Judah. Before the reign of Mashiach ben David, we can expect a king from Benyamin who will finally eradicate Amalek and willingly turn the kingship to the house of Judah. We have examined this sequence of events in greater detail in our study titled: Temple.

 

The Midrash records that Adam HaRishon gave seventy years of his life to David. This connects Adam and David. It makes this a very important beginning.

 

We can also see that Rosh Chodesh will be celebrated in the future because the Tanakh records this for us as well:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 66:22-24 "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares HaShem, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says HaShem. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

 

A Sin-Offering for HaShem?

 

Why is the goat offering of Rosh Chodesh the only sacrifice of its kind referred to as "a sin-offering for HaShem?" Two seemingly diverse Talmudic interpretations dovetail to supply the answer:

 

"Let this goat be an atonement," Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish explains the reasoning of HaShem, "for My reducing the light of the moon."

 

The Talmud[31] relates the efforts of HaShem to placate the moon after ordering it to reduce its light as a response to that luminary's challenge that there was no room in the universe for two heavenly luminaries of similar power. Jews would calculate their calendar according to the moon and tzaddikim such as Yaakov, Shmuel, and David would be called "small" in association with the lesser light of the moon. When all of this failed to completely appease the moon HaShem ordered Israel to bring a sin offering on the New Moon. The atonement of this sacrifice, points out Rabbi Yehuda, is essentially for those sins of entering the Sanctuary or eating sacrificial flesh while in a state of impurity of which one never becomes aware. "A sin-offering for HaShem" means a sin which only HaShem is aware of. HaShem wished to give Israel this opportunity for atonement, explains Tosefot, and designated Rosh Chodesh, the Festival of the New Moon, as the time for offering it in order to placate the moon for its reduction of light.[32]

 

During The Millennium

 

Yehezekel (Ezekiel) 46:1-7 "'This is what the Sovereign HaShem says: The gate of the inner court facing east is to be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day and on the day of the New Moon it is to be opened. The prince is to enter from the outside through the portico of the gateway and stand by the gatepost. The priests are to sacrifice his burnt offering and his fellowship offerings. He is to worship at the threshold of the gateway and then go out, but the gate will not be shut until evening. On the Sabbaths and New Moons the people of the land are to worship in the presence of HaShem at the entrance to that gateway. The burnt offering the prince brings to HaShem on the Sabbath day is to be six male lambs and a ram, all without defect. The grain offering given with the ram is to be an ephah, and the grain offering with the lambs is to be as much as he pleases, along with a hin of oil for each ephah. On the day of the New Moon he is to offer a young bull, six lambs and a ram, all without defect. He is to provide as a grain offering one ephah with the bull, one ephah with the ram, and with the lambs as much as he wants to give, along with a hin of oil with each ephah.

 

Since Rosh Chodesh was celebrated in the past, and will be celebrated in the future, why in heaven don’t we celebrate it today? Obviously the offerings can’t be brought because we have no Temple, but, we can obviously celebrate the parts that are permissible.

 

The Song of Solomon also alludes to the relationship between Rosh Chodesh and Messiah:

 

Kohelet (Song of Solomon) 2:8-9 Listen! My lover! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.

 

Judah and Tamar had twins: Zerach and Peretz. Zerach (shining) was so called on account of the sun which always shines, and Peretz (breach) on account of the moon which is sometimes breached [i.e. its light is sometimes hidden (at the end of the month) and sometimes completely intact.] But Peretz [symbolizing the moon] was the first born, although the sun is greater than the moon? [i.e. why should the firstborn be symbolized by the smaller orb?] In a sense Zerach, who stuck out his hand first, was to be the firstborn; but Peretz, the ancestor of the House of David, was given the Divine privilege of actually being the first born. The Davidic dynasty is likened to the moon because it underwent various stages of ascendancy and descendancy.

 

Since the Davidic dynasty evolved from Peretz who was likened to the moon, the Talmudic Sages[33], - when wishing to inform the Jews in other countries that the New Moon had appeared and been sanctified, would use the message 'David King of Israel lives and exists'[34]          

 

The Talmud, Sanhedrin 11b, indicates about Tehillim (Psalm) 81:3-4:

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 81:3 Blow the horn at the new moon, at the covering of the moon our feast day.

 

Now on which feast is the moon covered? We must say on the New Year (Rosh HaShana - Yom Teruah - Feast of Trumpets). And it is thereupon written:

 

Tehillim (Psalm) 81:4 For this is a statute for Israel, a judgment of the God of Jacob.

 

Just as judgment is executed by day, so also must the sanctification of the month take place by day.

 

The sight of the new moon which has reappeared is another occasion for celebrating this aspect of creation, and our awareness of it, by expressing gratitude for the renewal of life, and hopefulness for the future.

 

Rabbi Yohanan said: Whoever blesses the new moon at the proper time is considered as having welcomed the presence of the Shechinah.

 

Customs

 

"Originally, the New Moon was not fixed by astronomical calculations, but was solemnly proclaimed after witnesses had testified to the reappearance of the crescent of the moon. On the 30th of each month, the members of the High Court assembled in a courtyard in Jerusalem, named Beit Ya'azek, where they waited to receive the testimony of two reliable witnesses; they then sanctified the New Moon. If the moon's crescent was not seen on the 30th day, the New Moon was automatically celebrated on the 31st day."[35] 

 

Entertaining the witnesses and taking their testimony, as well as the actual sanctification of the New Moon, all had to take place during daylight hours as this is a mishpat.

 

In addition to the witnesses, the molad for the new moon is also calculated by the Beit Din (Court) that has had their ordination conferred on them in a direct line from Moses. The Beit Din is the only body that is authorized by halachah to sanctify the new moon.

 

"But that it is not at all the planetary occurrence in the sky that fixes the beginning of the month, so that all that would be necessary would be for the law-officers to take note of such occurrence, is clearly evident from laws that refer to the case where on the 30th, while yet daytime, the new moon is visible and has been seen by the judges, the court, and by all Israel; or of the case where the thorough examination of the witnesses who come and testify that they have seen it, has been satisfactorily completed by day, but in either of these cases, if night has fallen before the judges have pronounced "it is consecrated", then the 30th ins not the first of the month, in spite of the fact that the new moon has actually been seen by everybody, or alternatively has been vouched for, and completely confirmed and established, the new moon only starts on the 31st. This is striking evidence that it is not the actual condition up above, but the consecrating declaration of the representatives of Israel that is the decisive factor on which the beginning of the month depends. This, the fact that the nation itself fixes the date of the beginning of the months is what the command refers to..."

 

"... It is not to be the conjunction of the moon with the sun; not the moon receiving the rays of illumination afresh, that is to induce the beginning of our months, it is not that, to which our celebration of the New Moon is to be dedicated. But each time the moon finds the sun again, each time it receives its rays of light afresh, HaShem wants His people to find Him again and to be illuminated with fresh rays of His light, wherever and however, in running their course, they have had to pass through periods of darkness and obscurity. The moon finding itself again in conjunction with the sun is only a model for our finding ourselves again with HaShem, the rejuvenation of the moon a picture of and an incentive to, our own rejuvenation. Moed is literally conjunction."[36] 

 

Observations

 

Women do not have to work on the day of the new moon. A woman's cycle is the same as the moon's cycle. As a woman is renewed so too is the moon renewed. This intimate relationship is captured in the definition of “menses” from which menstruation is derived:

 

men·ses (mèn¹sêz) plural noun (used with a sing. or pl. verb) The monthly flow of blood and cellular debris from the uterus that begins at puberty in women and the females of other primates. In women, menses ceases at menopause. Also called catamenia. [Latin mênsês, pl. of mênsis, month.][37]

 

A month is, of course, related to the moon: A unit of time corresponding approximately to one cycle of the moon's phases, or about thirty days or four weeks.[38]

 

So, it becomes obvious the there is a relationship between women and the moon. No wonder, then, that there is a custom for women to abstain from hard work on Rosh Chodesh.

 

The Talmud rules that work is permitted on Rosh Chodesh, but describes a tradition that women abstain from work on the day.[39]

 

Rosh HaShana 23a Our Rabbis taught ‘Beacon fires are lit only for the new moon which has been seen at its proper time,[40] [to announce that] it has been sanctified. When are they lit? On the night following its announcement.[41] This means to say that we light beacons for defective months but not for full months. What is the reason? — R. Zera said: It is a precaution on account of a defective month which ends on Friday. [In that case] when do we light? On the termination of Sabbath; and if you were to insist that we should light up also for full months, this might give rise to confusion, since people would say: This month may be defective, and the reason why beacons were not lit yesterday is because it was impossible,[42] or perhaps it is full and they are lighting up at the proper time. But why should we not light up whether for a full month or a defective month, and when New Moon is on Friday not light up at all, so that since we do not light at the termination of Sabbath, in spite of the fact that we usually light for a full month, people will know that it is defective? — This nevertheless may lead to errors, since people will say, This month is full, and the reason why they have not lit up is because they have been prevented.[43] But why not light up for the full months and not at all for the defective months? — Abaye replied: So as not to deprive the public of two working days.[44]

 

Rosh Chodesh and Shabbat

 

The new moon and Sabbath seem to be somehow linked. Notice the scriptures that use them together:

 

2 Melachim (Kings) 4:23 "Why go to him today?" he asked. "It's not the New Moon or the Sabbath." "It's all right," she said.

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 66:22-23 "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares HaShem, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says HaShem.

 

Yehezekel (Ezekiel) 46:1 "'This is what the Sovereign HaShem says: The gate of the inner court facing east is to be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day and on the day of the New Moon it is to be opened.

 

Amos 8:5 Saying, "When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?"--skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales,

 

Matthew 24:26-31 speaks of the messianic hope and the arrival of the Mashiach ben David. This expectation is exemplified in our Rosh Chodesh prayers where we sing: David Melech Israel, chai, chai, ve'chai ya...

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 24:26-31 "So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. "Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

 

Further our prayers for Mashiach reach a crescendo on the ultimate Rosh Chodesh: Rosh HaShana. On Rosh HaShanah, our shacharit prayers are divided into three sections: Malchiyot, zicranot, and shofarot. Malchiyot because this is when we declare the kingship of HaShem as manifested in Mashiach ben David.

 

At Yom Teruah we also have a Rosh Chodesh. The moon will be in the west! Will the moon reflect the Shechinah of the Son of Man when He returns?

 

Malachi 4:1-2 "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says HaShem Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.

 

In the future

 

In sefer Revelation, a sod level sefer, we read about a Rosh Chodesh celebration in the future:

 

Revelation 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

 

This pasuk suggests that the Rosh Chodesh celebrations of the future will involve healing. Note that the fruits of one of the twelve trees will ripen on Rosh Chodesh.

 

Beginnings

 

Rosh Chodesh represents a beginning. Beginnings, in Torah, are very potent. For example, the moment of conception of a human being is a time when both the male and the female chromosomes divide in half. The remaining halves then unite to form a new being. The genes that were laid down at this moment are the descriptors that will define this person for the rest of his life. Not only do they describe his physical components like the color of his eyes and hair, but they also define his temperament and his likes and dislikes. In fact, Chazal teach that that moment also gives the memories of the father to his progeny. In some way, the child knows about the father. While the beginning has occurred in secret, never the less, its potency is great as it contains everything in a compressed form.

 

Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of a month, is a little bit like the flash of inspiration, which leads to a blueprint, which leads to a completed building. That moment of inspiration contains everything! That moment is hidden, but the end will reveal that it contained everything.

 

Our Sages teach us that the sound made by the shofar is the sound of the human neshama, the soul. This is a sound without corruption, the raw sound of the neshama. The bend of the shofar is said my the mystics to be the transition between this world and the next.

 

The shofar is the depth or root of speech. Teshuva (repentance) means to go back to the moment of creation, to go back into the womb to the moment of conception. We return to our fetal state, our moment of creation. This return is what Chazal meant by zicranot, memory or remembering as a function of Rosh HaShana. We return to the moment when the memories (sperm) of the father are given to us. Chazal use this same concept to teach us that the sound Adam HaRishon heard on wakening from his creation, was the sound of a shofar, the sound made by his neshama as it entered him. This suggests that the shofar can take us back to the very moment when our neshama entered us.

 

This same concept will help us to understand why a ram was found at the very moment that Isaac expired and was resurrected. At that moment a shofar became available.

 

Thus we see that the Rosh Chodesh of Rosh HaShana is a VERY potent moment! Chazal, therefore, teach that we should be very careful about our actions on this day. Not only is it the beginning of the month, but it is also the beginning of the year. Since the end goes after the beginning, it makes sense that we should pay attention to beginnings.

 

New Moon Calculations

 

The oral Torah tells us how the Sanhedrin calculated the time of Rosh Chodesh. These calculations were used to check the veracity of the witnesses.

 

1. The beginning of the lunar month occurs at the moment of conjunction between the sun and the moon; i.e. at the moment when the position of the moon is exactly between the earth and the sun. At this point, termed as the molad, or "birth", the moon is not visible from the earth. At least six hours must pass before a very small portion of the moon will reappear. The day on which this occurs is regarded as the first day of the new month. (Rashi)

 

Rosh HaShana 20b — The latter statement would be seen to be false,[45] the former statement is not seen to be false.[46]

 

Samuel said: I am quite able to make a calendar[47] for the whole of the Diaspora. Said Abba the father of R. Simlai to Samuel: Does the Master know [the meaning] of this remark which occurs in [the Baraitha known as] the secret of the Calendar?[48] ‘If the new moon is born before midday or after midday’? — He replied: I do not. He then said to him: Since the Master does not know this, there must also be other things which the Master does not know. When R. Zera went up [to Israel], he sent back word to them [in Babylon]: It is necessary that there should be [on New Moon] a night and a day of the new moon.[49] This is what Abba the father of R. Simlai meant: ‘We calculate [according to] the new moon's birth. If it is born before midday, then certainly it will have been seen shortly before sunset. If it was not born before midday, certainly it will not have been seen shortly before sunset’. What is the practical value of this remark? — R. Ashi said: To [help us in] confuting the witnesses.[50]

 

R. Zera said in the name of R. Nahman: The moon is invisible for twenty-four hours [round about new moon]. For us [in Babylon] six of these belong to the old moon and eighteen to the new;[51] for them [in Israel] six to the new and eighteen to the old.[52] What is the practical value of this remark? — R. Ashi said: To confute the witnesses.

 

The Master has just said: It is necessary that there should be [on New Moon] a night and a day of the new moon. Whence is this rule derived? — R. Johanan said: [From the text]. From evening to evening;[53] Resh Lakish said: [From the text], Until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening.[54] What practical difference is there between them? — Abaye said: The difference between them is only one of exegesis.[55] Raba said: They differ in regard to [the hours up to] midnight.[56]

 

2. The moon resembles a cosmic clock which orbits the earth on the average of 29 days, 12 hours plus 793 parts of an hour (29.53059 days). This figure allows for computing in advance all new moons and their respective holidays.

 

3. In order to calculate the appearance of any new moon in advance (especially Tishri and Nisan) it is necessary to know in addition to the rate of the moon's orbit, the exact moment at which the cosmic clock went into operation.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 1:14-15 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, And let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so.

 

A. According to the position of Rebbi Eliezer (Pirke D'Rebbi Eliezer chapter 8, Pesikta Rabbati 46, Midrash Vayikra Raba Parashat Emor chapter 29a) when Adam was created on the sixth day of creation, that day was the first of Tishri, New Year's day. Days 1,2,3,4, and 5 of Creation took place successively on the 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29th of the month of Elul of the previous hypothetical year. This entire hypothetical year preceding the first New Year's day is called Shanat Tohu or Primordial Year.

 

New Year's Day, Tishri 1, is called Yom Harat Olam, the birth-day of the world referring not to the world which was created on the 25th of Elul but to Adam for whom the world was created. (Rashi's commentary to Mahtzor Vitri.)

 

B. According to the Oral Tradition (Tosefot on Rosh HaShana 8a, Rabbi Ovadiah ben David on Rambam Sanctification of the month 6:8) the first New Moon occurred exactly at the end of the second hour of the sixth morning (12 + 2 hours from sun set at the end of the fifth day of Creation) when Adam was created. This first New Moon is called 6/14 (14 full hours into the sixth day) and is coded in Hebrew as V/YD. (Vav equals 6, Yod-Dalet equals 14). The Oral Tradition therefore reveals that the verse "they shall be as signs..." places the first actual New Moon, not on the fourth day when the luminaries were suspended, but on the sixth day of Creation, when Adam, for whose use they were made, was created.

 

5. Now we know not only the mean-length of the lunar month but the exact moment when the "cosmic clock" went into operation (V/YD). We may now ascertain the appearance of any New Moon is advance by calculating the number of months that have passed since the first New Moon (V/YD) and multiplying by 29.53059. (For a discussion of "simple" (12 months) and "plenary" or "pregnant" years (13 months) which would have to be taken into consideration for such a calculation see Rambam Sanctification 6:10-13.

 

6. However, it is critical to bear in mind that the hypothetical year (Shanat Tohu) that preceded the first actual New Moon V/YD consisted of only five days (Elul 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29) and that the present Jewish calendar takes the beginning of Shanat Tohu as its starting point in order not to omit these 5 days! Our calculations therefore must make up for the approximately 11 months 24.5 days which are missing if we would start at V/YD.

 

7. In order to prevent unnecessary complications of this sort and enable us to calculate in whole years, the sages employed a method which is scientifically accepted today as well, of calculating backwards or extrapolation.

 

8. Calculating backwards: By means of extrapolation we can calculate the first hypothetical New Moon which would have occurred if the World (time) had been created at the beginning of the year instead of at its end. By simply calculating backwards 12 lunar month cycles of 29 days 12 hours 793 parts from V/YD we arrive at Molad Tohu, the Primordial New Moon.

 

9. It is understood that this extrapolation is built in such a way that from the Molad Tohu a period of exactly 12 months would bring us forward to the first actual New Moon V/YD.

 

10. The advantage of employing the concept of Molad Tohu (Primordial New Moon) as the starting point for the Jewish calendar, allows us to work in whole years in the ascertaining of any New Moon we wish to know. (The missing 11 months 29.5 days of the first hypothetical year are automatically included).

 

11. The calculation: When we subtract twelve times 29 days 793 parts from the 14th hour of the sixth day (V/YD) we obtain the Primordial New Moon: 2 days 5 hours 204 parts (or 5 hours and 204 parts of an hour into the second day of the first week of the previous hypothetical year). In Hebrew this number is coded B/H/RD, 2d 5h 204p. (Beit equals 2, hey equals 5, Resh-dalet equals 204).

 

B/H/R/D is derived from Genesis chapter one. If we were to list out the first chapter of Bereshit (Genesis) as one letter after another, with no spaces, we could find the B/H/R/D encoded at 42 letter increments. This 42 letter increment is based on the 42 letter name of G-d: The Book of Our Heritage, by Eliyahu Kitov.

 

Rambam (Maimonides), who lived about 1200 AD, commented on the synodic Lunar month of the Jewish calendar as being 29 days, 12 hours, and 793/1080 of the next hour, for a total of 29 + 12/24 + 793/(1080x24) =  29.530594 days. 

 

Bachya (13th century AD) used an ELS (equidistant letter sequence) with spacing 42 that started with the first letter of Genesis:        

- D

then went to the 42nd letter following that D           - R

then went to the 42nd letter following that R           - H

then went to the 42nd letter following that H           - B

to produce the sequence DRHB, which he showed to produce the 29.530594 day synodic Lunar month.

 

Bachya did not claim to have discovered the Torah-coding of the Jewish Lunar month, but gave credit to Nechunya (1st century AD).

 

* * *

 


This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Tumwater, WA 98501

 

Internet address: gkilli@aol.com

Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

 

 



[1] Sanhedrin 38b

[2] Pri Tzadik Bereshit, Rosh Chodesh Kislev

[3] Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 417).

[4] Chullin 60b

[5] There are two basic reasons for reciting Hallel. First, we recite Hallel on festival days in order to praise HaShem as we celebrate His festival (see RAMBAN, Shoresh 1, who understands that reciting Hallel is part of the mitzva of Simchat Yom Tov). Second, we recite Hallel in order to commemorate a miraculous salvation from danger.

[6] Shulchan Aruch 418:1

[7] Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 419:1-2, Mishna Berurah, Orach Chayim 418:2, Ben Ish Chai, Vayikra 10, 1 Samuel 20:24

[8] Bamidbar 10:10, Pesachim 77a and Shavuot 10a, Taanit 29a, Leviticus 23:4 and Rashi ad loc.

[9] The Tur in Hilchot Rosh Chodesh

[10] Chullin 60b

[11] Near relatives being disqualified from offering evidence together.

[12] I.e., found by the Beth din to be unreliable.

[13] Ex. XII, 1, 2.

[14] Even if you are near relatives.

[15] The communal leaders, to sanctify the month on the strength of it. Nothing, however, is implied about relatives.

[16] Lit., ‘parts’ (sc. of one hour), 73/1080 X 60 m == 4 m 3 1/3 sec. The new moon, therefore, could not be seen on the twenty-ninth day.

[17] As a funeral oration would not be delivered on New Moon, which was regarded as a holy day.

[18] Midrash Sod Halbbur. On the Mystery of the New Moon.

[19] Rosh HaShana 1 and 2.

[20] The commencement of the month was dated from the time when the earliest visible appearance of the new moon was reported to the Sanhedrin. If this happened on the 30th day of the current month, that month was considered to have ended on the preceding 29th day, and was called deficient. But if no announcement was made on the 30th day, that day was reckoned to the current month, which was then called full, and the ensuing day was considered the first of the next month.

[21] The ‘calculation’ as to which and how many months were to be intercalated. It was an established rule that no year should consist of less than four nor more than eight full months.

[22] The proclamation by formal ‘sanctification’ of the new moon on the thirtieth day.

[23] The thirtieth day.

[24] I.e., it is patent to all that the next day is the new moon, as no month exceeds 30 days.

[25] An Acronym for: “Torah a Neviim a Ketuvim” which literally means the “Law the Prophets and the Writings”, which are the names used by Yeshua in the Nazarean Codicil for the Old Testament.

[26] The thirtieth day is known as the day of prolongation ( ruchg ouh ) as it is the day which is added to make the preceding month full (v. supra p. 21, n. 7). In the case of the two Adars the thirtieth day of each is sanctified as the New Moon of the next month.

[27] Rab.

[28] I.e., that the Beth din is Jerusalem fixed the New Moon of Adar II on the thirtieth day of the first Adar, the thirtieth day always being regarded as the ‘proper time’ of New Moon.

[29] This section is an excerpt from “The Book of Our Heritage” , by Eliyahu Kitov.

[30] Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 426:1 Rema, Magen Avraham 1.

[31] Chullin 60b

[32] Shavuot 9a

[33] Rosh HaShanah 25a

[34]Ramban citing Sefer HaBahir

[35]From the Jewish Encyclopedia

[36] Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch

[37] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

[38] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.

[39] Compare also Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 45

[40] I.e., on the thirtieth day of the outgoing month.

[41] ‘the day of the prolongation’. V. supra, p. 81, n. 1.

[42] On account of Sabbath.

[43] Through having drunk too much on Sabbath, and become intoxicated (Rashi).

[44] It was customary to abstain from work on New Moon (v. Tosaf. s.v. ouan ). In this case the thirtieth day would always he kept as New Moon from doubt, and if the actual day fixed was the thirty-first, there would be two days New Moon.

[45] Because other people might have seen the new moon.

[46] Because it could not be proved that they had not seen it (Rashi). R. Hananel: Provided they had seen a semblance of the new moon].

[47] Heb. rucg lit., ‘taking across’: the word used for the prolonging of the year and the month.

[48] This was a Baraitha made up of enigmatic sentences like the one which follows.

[49] I.e., that there should be no appearance of the old moon in this period, viz., after the closing of the twenty-ninth day; otherwise New Moon cannot be proclaimed on the thirtieth.

[50] Because if the conjunction is calculated to have been after midday and they claim to have seen the new moon before nightfall, they are not telling the truth.

[51] Which would imply that in Babylon the new moon is not visible till eighteen hours after its birth (Rashi).

[52] Which would imply that in Israel the new moon is visible six hours after its birth (Rashi).

[53] Lev. XXIII, 32, in connection with fasting on the Day of Atonement. This shows that the day follows the night in reference to the festivals.

[54] Ex. XII, 18, in connection with eating unleavened bread on Passover. This shows that the festivals end at even.

[55] Lit., ‘the interpretation of exegeses’.

[56] According to R. Johanan, the ‘night’ referred to is on the same footing as the night of the Day of Atonement which commences at nightfall. But according to Resh Lakish, it is on a par with the first night of Passover, which, in relation to the Paschal lamb, was a continuation of the afternoon before. Hence Resh Lakish holds that even if the old moon was seen in the early part of the evening, the next day may still be declared New Moon.