Written by Carl Jones
“Blow the trumpet at the new moon (rosh chodesh).”
“And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says Adonai.
“For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me, declares the Eternal, So your offspring and your name will endure. And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me, says the Eternal.”
“Thus says the Eternal Eloheem, 'The gate of the inner court facing east shall be shut the six working days; but it shall be opened on the sabbath day and opened on the day of the new moon.’”
Celebration of the New Moon (literally “head of the month) is included in the commandments, something we may not have been taught in our earlier life. We should however get in practice, because in “the new heavens and the new earth” “from new moon to new moon” will we “come to bow down before” Him.
We may not have noticed, but the new moon is spoken of several times in Scripture:
1 Samuel 20:5; 1 Samuel 20:18; 1 Samuel 20:24; 2 Kings 4:23; 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 8:13; 2 Chronicles 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Nehemiah 10:33; Psalm 81:3; Isaiah 1:13; Isaiah 1:14; Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 45:17; Ezekiel 46:1; Ezekiel 46:3; Ezekiel 46:6; Hosea 2:11; Amos 8:5; Colossians 2:16
Not a lot of detail is provided in Scripture as to how to celebrate the New Moon. In several places it is placed in parallel with Shabbat and the feasts, which gives some clues. Just as some celebrate birthdays, etc. in a variety of ways, so the New Moon can be celebrated in diverse manners. Even Sha’ul said we have the liberty of choice about how we observe the New Moon. A few ideas to include in our celebrations follow, in no particular order.
1. Blow the shofar.
“Blow the trumpet at the new moon, At the full moon, on our feast day. For it is a statute for Israel, An ordinance of the Eloheem of Jacob.” (Psalm 81:3) This verse says that blowing the trumpet (shofar) is an ordinance. So we should do it, just as we should not murder – they are both ordinances.
2. Light the Menorah.
Eloheem commanded Moshe to make the first menorah in Exodus 25:31-40. He informed Moses that the Menorah was to be located in what was known as the "Holy Place" in the sanctuary of Eloheem. The scriptures teach that the Menorah was and is esteemed of Eloheem a symbol extraordinaire. Indeed it has been referred to in scripture as the "Lamp of Eloheem." (1 Samuel 3:3) If it is then we should embrace it and perceive the lessons embodied therein. The lampstand occupied a place of great prominence among the instruments used in worship throughout the Tanakh and Brit Chadashah, including early mention in the book of Revelation (1:12). The Menorah should retake its rightful place in worship of the One True Eloheem.4
Upon lighting the Menorah, blessings and praise are appropriate:
Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu l’hadlik ner haminorah. Amayn.
Blessed are You, Adonai, our Elohim, King of the universe, Who sanctified us by His commandments, and has instructed us to kindle the light of the Menorah [and to be a light to the nations, and has given us Yeshua the Messiah, the Light of the World.] Amen.
Father or other Head of the House: And I saw seven spirits of Eloheem burning before the throne!
Family or congregation: The Spirit of Love (Eternal)
The Spirit of Wisdom
The Spirit of Understanding
The Spirit of Counsel
The spirit of Knowledge
The spirit of Strength
(and) The Spirit of the Fear of the Eternal
All present: Yeshua is the light that lights every man that comes into the world.
Now we are the light of the world!
We will shine forth as lights in a world of darkness!
Adonai Yeshua, Hamashiach, you are our light and our salvation! Amen!
“The people of the land shall also worship at the doorway of that gate before the Eternal on the sabbaths and on the new moons.” Ezekiel 46:3.
Worship of the Eternal is commanded. And of course if we love Him, we will want to worship him. Worship of the Eternal can and does take on any number of mannerisms. You should choose the way of worship that puts you in closest communion with Him.
Worship in song, with or without music, we are familiar with. Any worshipful hymn or other song is appropriate to either read or sing, with or without music accompaniment, with or without dance. See also Psalms below.
4. Worship in praise.
Spontaneity and individual participation are probably the key here. Express publicly what you have to praise the Eternal One about. What has He done during the past month? What has He done during your lifetime? One thought is to go around the family, asking each person to publicly voice his or her praise for Adonai, for His blessings especially during the previous month. Worship in praise is so deeply rewarding to the soul.
5.Worship by reading Scripture.
Psalm 1048 speaks of the Eternal’s care over all His works and is appropriate to celebration of the New Moon. Hallel, Psalms 113 - 118, is a chant of praise used at Passover, Shabbat, Sukkot, Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh. Any of the many other Psalms, Proverbs and other appropriate Scripture may be read as you feel led.
6. Eat a celebration meal.
In 1 Samuel 20, discussion between Jonathan and David centered around the big meal in celebration of the New Moon. “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty.” By this we know that a celebration meal was part of the observance practiced before the temple was built. So it is a proper part of our celebration today.
(Good appetite!) b’te’ahvon
The father or other head of the household may speak blessings on his family, emphasizing current events in the family – spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and financial, to end the celebration of the New Moon. Each part of the celebration of Rosh Chodesh is meaningful, but none more so than when the father speaks blessings over each child and his wife.
Blessing is commanded to be a part of family life. “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”Genesis 12:14) “This is how you are to bless the Israelites.” (Numbers 6:22) The blessing that G-d gave to Abraham and his family is to be extended to all the nations of the world; the fundamental channel for the impartation of that blessing is the family.
If you are unaccustomed to speaking blessing into another’s life, be assured that it is very biblical to do so. Isaac blessed Jacob in Genesis 27. Jacob blessed his grandsons in Genesis 48. Aaron and his sons were instructed to bless in Numbers 6. Balaam was instructed to bless in Numbers 23. Moses blessed in Deuteronomy 1. We are instructed to bless the Eternal in Deuteronomy 8:10. Boaz was blessed in Ruth 2. Eli blessed Elkahah and his wife in 1 Samuel 2. David blessed his household in 2 Samuel 6. Children of the virtuous woman bless her in Proverbs 31. As priests (1 Peter 2), why should we hesitate to bless? Perhaps it is time we who “have faith to move mountains” begin with the blessing of children. It may seem like a leap of faith, but it is merely obedience to Eloheem’s command: “Bless the children of Israel.” If nothing else, follow the pattern of Yeshua. Let it be said of you that you took your children in your arms, “laid hands on them, and blessed them,” as Yeshua did with the children who came to Him. (Mark 10:16)
And to wrap up celebration of Rosh Chodesh, the Aaronic blessing is always appropriate:
Y'varekh'chah Adonai v'yishm'rechah,
yaer Adonai panav elechah veechunechah.
Yeesah Adonai panav elechah, v'yahseym l'chah shalom.
The Eternal bless you, and keep you;
The Eternal make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you;
The Eternal lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.
"Praised are you, O Eternal our Eloheem, King of the Universe, who created (bara’) the skies with his word, and all heaven’s host with the breath of his mouth. He gave them appointed times and roles, and they never miss their cues, doing their creator’s (konam) bidding with gladness and joy. He is the true creator (po’el) who acts faithfully, and he has told the moon to renew itself. It is a beautiful crown for the people carried by Eloheem from birth (Israel), who will likewise be renewed in the future in order to proclaim the beauty of their creator (yotsram) for his glorious majesty. Praised are you, O Eternal, who renews new moons."
Halakhah seldom provides this kind of opportunity to praise Eloheem so explicitly for creation outdoors, in the presence of nature itself, and rarely do we find a prayer so overflowing with poetry, joy and beauty. We call Eloheem borei, koneh, poel, and yotser--four synonyms for “creator.” The celestial bodies are joyous and happy, the moon is beautiful, and Eloheem is proclaimed beautiful, glorious, and majestic. Contrast this with the daily blessing for the rising sun, usually recited indoors, which is filled with talk of the splendor of angels, the magnitude of creation, and the awe of Eloheem, but says little about beauty, joy, or happiness.
The Moon & Israel
Aside from the natural beauty of the moon and the night sky, there is another reason that abundant joy and beauty are associated with the moon, a reason alluded to in the blessing itself: The moon is our crown, our alter ego. The people of Israel identify with the moon. Its constant change is reminiscent of our destiny, and its renewal symbolizes our hope. As the moon reappears to face its creator monthly, so Israel renews itself spiritually in greeting the Shekhinah [the presence of Eloheem]. These ideas are made explicit in rabbinic statements about the ritual, cited in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 42b):
In the first book of the Bible we read of the creation of the moon:
Eloheem said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times--the days and the years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth." And it was so. Eloheem made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars. And Eloheem set them in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth, to dominate the day and night, and to separate the light from darkness. And Eloheem saw that this was good.
-- Genesis 1:14-18
Immediately prior to the exodus from Egypt, Eloheem commands the Israelites to mark the months of the year:
The Eternal said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.
-- Exodus 12:1-2
The Book of Numbers briefly describes the celebration of Rosh Chodesh:
And on your joyous occasions-your fixed festivals and new moon days-you shall sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and your sacrifices of well-being. They shall be a reminder of you before your Eloheem: I, the Eternal, am your Eloheem.
-- Numbers 10: 10
This passage from the Book of Numbers is chanted during the traditional synagogue morning service each Rosh Chodesh:
On your new moons you shall present a burnt offering to the Eternal: two bulls of the herd, one ram, and seven yearling lambs, without blemish. As meal offering for each bull: three-tenths of a measure of choice flour with oil mixed in. As meal offering for each ram: two-tenths of a measure of choice flour with oil mixed in. As meal offering for each lamb: a tenth of a measure of fine flour with oil mixed in. Such shall be the burnt offering of pleasing odor, an offering by fire to the Eternal. Their libations shall be: half a hin [a hin is approximately six quarts] of wine for a bull, a third of a hin for a ram, and a quarter of a hin for a lamb. That shall be the monthly burnt offering for each new moon of the year. And there shall be one goat as a sin offering to the Eternal, to be offered in addition to the regular burnt offering and its libation.
-- Numbers 28:11-15
The Mishnah describes how torches were lit to provide notification of the sighting of the new moon:
Originally they used to light beacons (to convey the news of the new moon to the Jews in the diaspora of Babylonia). When the Cutheans (Samaritans) adopted evil courses (and lit beacons on the thirtieth day, so as to mislead the Jews in Babylonia), they made a rule that messengers should go forth. How did they light the beacons? They used to bring long poles of cedar and reeds and olive wood and flax fluff which they tied to the poles with a string, and someone used to go up to the top of a mountain and set fire to them and wave them to and fro and up and down until he saw the next one doing the same thing on the top of the second mountain; and so on the top of the third mountain. Whence did they carry the chain of beacons? From the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to Sartaba, and from Sartaba to Grofina, and from Grofina to Hauran, and from Hauran to Beth Baltin. The one on Beth Baltin did not budge from there but went on waving to and fro and up and down until he saw the whole of the diaspora (the district of Pumbedita in Babylonia) before him like one bonfire. (On seeing the beacon fire, the inhabitants used to light torches.)
-- Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah 2.2-4
The Talmud associates Rosh Chodesh observance with the Shekhinah, the Divine Presence:
Rabbi Aha ben Hanina also said in the name of Rabbi Assi in Rabbi Yohanan's name: Whoever pronounces the benediction over the new moon in its due time welcomes, as it were, the presence of the Shekhinah. For one passage states, "This month" (Exodus 12:2) while elsewhere it is said, "This is my Eloheem, and I will glorify Him" (Exodus 15:2). ["This" here connotes something that could be pointed at with one's finger, and the use of "this" in the two verses suggests that the one who praises Eloheem at the periodic renewal of the moon, gives witness to the revelation of divine glory as manifested in natural phenomena.]
-- Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 42a
The Talmud recounts a legend of the moon becoming smaller than the sun:
Rabbi Shimon ben Pazzi pointed out a contradiction [in the account of the creation of the sun and moon]. One verse says, "Eloheem made the two great lights" (Genesis 1:16), and immediately the verse continues, "The greater light ... and the lesser light." The moon said unto the Holy One, blessed be He, "Sovereign of the Universe! Is it possible for two kings to wear one crown?" He answered, "Go then and make yourself smaller." "Sovereign of the Universe!" cried the moon. "Because I have suggested that which is proper must I then make myself smaller?" He replied, "Go and you will rule by day and by night." "But what is the value of this?" cried the moon. "Of what use is a lamp in broad daylight?" He replied, "Go. By you, Israel shall reckon the days and the years." "But it is impossible," said the moon, "to do without the sun for the reckoning of the seasons, as it is written, 'They shall serve as signs for the set times-the days and the years' (Genesis 1:14)." "Go. The righteous shall be named after you [righteous people shall be named "the Small" after the moon, which had become the small light] as we find, Jacob the Small [se Amos 7:2], Samuel the Small [a 1st century rabbi], David the Small [see I Samuel 17:4].
On seeing that it would not be consoled, the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, "Bring an atonement for Me making the moon smaller." This is what was meant by Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish when he declared, "Why is it that the male goat offered on the new moon is distinguished in that there is written concerning it 'unto the Eternal' (Numbers 28: 15)? Because the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, 'Let this male goat be an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller.'"
-- Babylonian Talmud, Hullin 60b
Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer recounts legends from the time of Creation until the wanderings of the children of Israel in the desert.
The women heard about the construction of the golden calf and refused to submit their jewelry to their husbands. Instead they said to them: "You want to construct an idol and mask which is an abomination, and has no power of redemption? We won't listen to you." And the Holy One, Blessed be He, rewarded them in this world in that they would observe the new moons more than men, and in the next world in that they are destined to be renewed like the new moons.
-- Midrash, Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer 45 (circa 750)
Exodus Rabbah is an exegetical and homiletic work on the Book of Exodus compiled in the years 900-1000, including material from much earlier periods:
You find that if the moon does not appear in the sky at night, the world is so dark that a man cannot walk about even within the city, but as soon as the moon appears in the sky, all rejoice and walk about. So it was in the days of Ahasuerus who decreed that Israel should be destroyed, slain, and made to perish; but Esther came and brought light to Israel, for it says, "The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor" (Esther 8:16) Should you inquire why Esther is compared to the moon, the answer is that just as the moon renews itself every thirty days, so did Esther say, "But I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days" (Esther 4:11).
-- Midrash, Exodus Rabbah 1 5:6
The rabbis of Exodus Rabbah comment on the commandment in Exodus 12:2 to mark the months:
We may illustrate by the parable of a king unto whom a son was born, whereupon he made a joyful celebration; but the son was taken captive and spent a long time in captivity. On his release, the king fixed an anniversary. So, too, prior to Israel's descent into Egypt, they counted by years; but after they had gone down to Egypt and become enslaved there, Eloheem performed miracles for them, and they were redeemed; and then did they begin to count the months, as it says, "This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months" (Exodus 12:2).
-- Midrash, Exodus Rabbah 15:9 (900-1000)
Rashi, a medieval Torah commentator, discusses a passage from the Talmud about the public reading of the Torah on weekdays, holidays, and new moons:
"New months." There is no absolute prohibition against work, yet women do not perform work on those days I learned from my aged teacher, may his memory be for a blessing, that this commandment was given to them [women] because they did not submit their jewelry for the golden calf.
Tehillim 81:3 Sound the shofar at Rosh-Hodesh and at full moon for the pilgrim feast,
Bamidbar 10:10 “And in the day of your gladness, and in your moadim (appointed times), and in the Rosh Chodesh (beginning of your months), you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over your peace offerings. And they shall be a remembrance for you before your Elohim. I am Y-H-V-H your Elohim.”
2Chronicles 2:4 see, I am building a House for the Name of Y-H-V-H my Elohim, to set it apart to Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, and for the continual showbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Shabbatot, and on Chodeshim, and on the Mo’adei Y-H-V-H Eloheinu. This is for l'olam to Yisrael.
Yesha’yahu 66:23 “And it shall be that from Rosh Chodesh to Rosh Chodesh, and from Shabbat to Shabbat, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” declares Y-H-V-H.
Yechezk'el 46:1 ‘Thus says the Master Y-H-V-H, “The gate of the inner courtyard facing east is shut the six days of work, but b’ Yom ha-Shabbat it is opened, and b’Yom ha-Chodesh it is opened.
Yechezk'el 46:3 “And the people of the land shall also bow themselves at the entrance to this gate before Y-H-V-H b’Shabbatot and b’Chodeshim.
May it be Your will Adonai, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that you begin for us this month for good and for blessing. May You give to us long life, a life of shalom, a life of goodness, a life of blessing, a life of sustenance, a life of physical health, a life in which there is fear of heaven and fear of sin, a life in which there is no shame or humiliation; a life of wealth and honor, a life in which we love Torah and fear G-d; a life in which Adonai fulfills the requests of our hearts for good. Amein. Selah.