Greg Killian: A Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) - Historically

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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 (Chullin 60b) 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. Shavuot 9a

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 [see Rosh HaShanah 25a], - 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'[29]

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.