In Parshas Bo we learn about the first commandment given to the Jews as a nation, that
of Kiddush Hachodesh, sanctifying the new moon every month. From this point on the Jews
were to use the moon for a lunar calendar by which to set the time of the festivals, as
opposed to the solar year.
The word"zeh-this" is used to introduce the new moon and indicates that
Hashem showed Moshe this kind of moon and told him that when the moon renews itself it
will be Rosh Chodesh, a new month. "Zeh" is also used at the parting of the Red
Sea; when the Jews saw the great miracles occurring and Hashem's obvious manifestation,
they were able to point and say "this" is my G-d and I will glorify Him. The
Medrash connects both uses of the word zeh and states that whoever sanctifies the moon in
the correct time, it is as if he sees the Divine presence.
The Ksav Sofer explains further: There are those who accept that Hashem created the
world, but deny that He has anything to do with the day to day running of the world
(hashgacha pratis). However, we believe that Hashem constantly puts His creative force
into the creation and oversees all, which is the intention in the blessing on the new
moon, that Hashem renews the moon every month and it is not merely nature taking its
One who sanctifies the new moon thus states his belief in hashgacha pratis just like
the Jews who saw the splitting of the Red Sea and could clearly point out Hashem's divine
intervention in this world.
The Hirsch Siddur on Birkas Halevanah states: "...the regularity of the
alternating aspects of the moon constitutes the clearest, brightest revalation of the
Creator..." It is interesting to note that one of the verses in Birkas Halevanah
describes Hashem's nearness to his people: "He stands behind our wall; He sees
through the windows; He looks through the lattice." (Recall from Parshas Vaera that
Hashem, as close as He is, does not manifest Himself openly- but His intervention is still
Rosh Chodesh is a day of special importance to women. This day was given to women as
somewhat of a Yom Tov-holiday-because they did not participate in making the golden calf
idol in the desert after the Jews left Egypt. They refused to give over their gold jewelry
to be melted down for the idol and remained strong and steadfast in their faith in Hashem.
Already from the time of Moshe Rosh Chodesh was established as the women's chag. Therefore
it is customary for the women to wear something special on Rosh Chodesh and not to engage
in work such as sewing and laundering.
The Ohr Zarua adds another dimension to the importance of the lunar cycle to women
whose purity and impurity follow the moon's monthly waxing and waning. Every month she is
renewed like the new moon which everyone looks forward to seeing. As women, we have a rich
supply of mitzvos that only we can fulfill, so why try to imitate by wearing tfillin,
becoming Rabbis, etc.? The Ben Ish Chai writes that a women should be very careful in
preserving the holiness of Rosh Chodesh because in a few cases of mitzvos the women are
secondary to the men, but in the case of Rosh Chodesh women are more integral than men.
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