New Moon Blessing
This article will describe the concepts found within the “Kiddush HaChodesh”, the blessing upon the New Moon.
First, let us familiarize ourselves with the actual text:
“Blessed are you God, our God, King of the world, that with Your statements (You) created the heavens, and with the breath of your mouth, all the hosts thereof. A statute and time did You place for them, that they should not deviate their circuits. Happy and joyous (are the heavenly spheres) to do the will of their Creator. Worker of truth Whose works are truth, and unto the moon You declared that it should renew (itself), a gloriful crown to those (mankind) born of the womb, as they (mankind) will eventually renew themselves as the moon, and to exalt their Creator for the name of the glory His kingdom. Blessed are You God, Who renews the months.”
Now we will address each section.
I believe that this teaches us what true praise of God consists of. It is not merely praise in response to an individual act performed for oneself. Such a praise would dwarf the true, immense scope of God’s Omniscience and Omnipotence. To praise God as accurately as humanly possible, man must speak of God’s might and Knowledge in the most broad and all-inclusive sense. True, full praise of God therefore must describe universal phenomena, not subjective, individual events.
Therefore, we first praise God in general terms - we exalt Him for the works of the heavens as as a whole independent of man, prior to exalting Him on account of the moon.
“A statute and time did You place for them, that they should not
deviate their circuits.”
In creation therefore, God brought into being two distinct categories; 1) matter, 2) laws governing that matter. (I believe the second chapter in Genesis alludes to the second category.)
In application to the heavens, we would be remiss in our praise of God if we did not include praise for God’s wisdom manifested through the relentless paths in which the heavenly spheres travel.
“Happy and joyous (are they) to do the will of their Creator.”
So there are 3 praises thus far; 1) Praise for the physical heavens, 2) Praise for their governing laws, 3) Praise for harmony, the perfect system of creation, where God willed something, and there is no conflict intervening between God’s will and the immediacy of the reality of His will. God’s will is all that is real and all that stands. He has no opponents.
“Worker of truth Whose works are truth”
That purpose follows:
“and unto the moon You declared that it should renew (itself), a
gloriful crown to those born of the womb, as they will eventually renew
themselves as the moon”
This teaches us the level of import, which God wished to give to repentance. Nowhere else do we see God creating a unique behavior in creation solely for the purpose of reminding man that repentance is always within his grasp.
One more idea contained in these words is the meaning of “those born of the womb”. I wonder why man is referred to in this peculiar fashion, as opposed to saying “a glorious crown to man”. I think however, that the idea is to draw a distinction between man and the cosmos. The moon, that which is unchanging in its laws, is a crown - a mark of distinction - to man, a being borne of the womb, who is destined to human error. The idea is that the moon’s phases are a reminder to man who always “phases” from sin to repentance. Referring to man as “borne of the womb” highlights - via contrast to the moon - that man is only human.
My friend Howard explained well that “those born of the womb” also teaches that just as an infant prior to exiting the womb is free of sin, so are we able to be via repentance. This statement alludes to our inherent capacity to be as pure as we were before birth.
The new moon symbolizes free will. When man uses free will, his whole being is “illuminated” by truth and he is in line with the will of the Creator. That is man’s crown of “elevated distinction”. The renewal of the moon each month is to remind man that he was created with and has the ability to exercise his free will - which is what distances him from sin. His continuous reflection removes man from his desire to sin.
“and to exalt their Creator for the sake of the glory His kingdom”
“Blessed are You God, Who renews the months.”