Rosh Chodesh - Woman's Gift From God

Rivka Olenick


"They are joyous and glad to perform the will of their Creator the Worker of Truth Whose work is truth. From the blessing of the New Moon.


Chazal tell us that the Jewish women refused to give up their jewelry in participation of the creation and the worship of the Golden Calf (Gemara Yoma 66b). They were given as a gift on Rosh Chodesh, to abstain from all their work. The women were given the task of publicizing the day and in doing so should refrain from their work. It is not that work is absolutely forbidden or prohibited, because men may work, rather, it is in publicizing the day we should focus our attention to the special mitzvos belonging to Rosh Chodesh; special prayer, an additional Torah reading and the sacrifice brought on that day. Although we don't bring any sacrifices, we do recite prayers and read an additional portion from the Torah, and today women still refrain from their work. The Code of Jewish Laws calls this "a beautiful custom to be preserved. We don't mark off the day as "just another day. To the contrary, on the Sabbath preceding Rosh Chodesh the blessing of the new month is said. At that time we are already preparing ourselves in anticipation of the new month. So even in that preparation itself Rosh Chodesh has special significance. Women abstaining from their work expresses that this unique day is designated for praise of the Creator and we recognize Him as the Master of the Universe. We can only have this recognition of God's existence through his works and the moon symbolizes this for us. The moon is an incredible body that revolves around the earth and is part of a complicated universe that didn't just happen. The moon receives its light from sun, not from itself and God created it to be this way. God created the moon to reflect in the physical world so that we could see it. He gave it to us so that we could come closer in recognizing how profound His works are, as we are part of His created world, His created beings. We can't ignore the moon, in fact we are drawn to it, we stare at it and as we look at it with wonder we should ask: what is the moon's purpose in relation to me and the Jewish Nation?


Every month we are given the opportunity to look at the full moon and once again be inspired by the Hand of God, by His work in the world, not only now, but in His works of all of creation. We look at the moon and we are in awe of God's mastery of the universe. He created us and gave us every possible way on the earth, individually and through each other to "Serve Him with gladness and exultation, as it says in Psalms 100:2. We often forget this idea and get so caught up in our "own world and yet God gives us a chance each month to renew ourselves with the realization that we have a purpose in His world which is to align ourselves with the will of the Creator. We were created only for this purpose, recognizing that truth comes only through the knowledge that God gave us access to. Torah knowledge about the Forefathers who lived lives of truth, in their deeds and in their trials we learn from them and they give us hope and inspiration to survive individually and as a nation. I would like to say that when a person gazes intently at the moon's full reflection one's mind is illuminated, lit up by the realization of one's free will and the ability to activate it. Use of our real free will can bring us closer to repentance and further away from sin even though we are never completely free from sin. We see the moon as analogues to ourselves, the Jewish people and as the moon goes through stages of such smallness to such greatness, so can we. We can renew ourselves by turning to the vast and great knowledge that the Torah offers us, and by working to change and remove our flaws, which is always within our capability, according to the Rambam who states: "For in every situation a person has the choice of changing from good to bad, and from bad to good. The choice is in his hands. (From Chapter 8 of the Rambam's Eight Chapters/Shemonah Perakim). The mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh, blessing of the new month provides each of us with the opportunity to personally reflect with the hope and motivation that in changing and renewing ourselves we have the additional hope and belief that God will bring about the Ultimate Redemption. The Messiah will help restore us as the Jewish people to be One Nation with the rebuilding of the Temple and once again regain our leadership as "the light unto the other nations. With God's help Klal Yisrael will be whole again and shine brilliantly on the earth like the moon shines over God's universe.

"To the moon He said that it should renew itself as a crown of splendor for those borne (by Him) from the womb, those who are destined to renew themselves like it, and to glorify their Molder for the name of His glorious Kingdom. Blessed are You, Hashem Who renews the months."