ROSH CHODESH – pronounce "ROSH" with a long "O."  The "CH" is the Hebrew guttural from the back of the throat.  "CHODESH" is pronounced with a long "O" and a short "E," with the accent on the first syllable –



"Had Israel merited no other privilege than greeting the presence of their heavenly Father once a month by reciting the benediction over the new moon, they would be contented!"  –  school of Rabbi Ishmael.

By astronomical calculation, the beginning of the month occurs at the moment when the moon’s location is exactly between the earth and the sun, and it cannot be seen.  That moment is known, in Hebrew, as the "molad," or "birth," of the moon.  About six hours later, a fraction of the moon can be seen, and the New Month, or New Moon, can be proclaimed.  The exact date and time, to the second, of the beginning of each month are announced in the synagogue on the Sabbath preceding it.

In Bemidbar (Numbers) 10:10 and 28:11-15, God commanded His people, at the beginning of their months, to offer a burnt offering, a meal offering, a drink offering, and a sin offering.  They were to blow trumpets over these sacrifices so that they would be a memorial before God.

In Biblical times, Rosh Chodesh was a day on which people gathered in the Temple to serve God, when festive meals were held (I Shemu’el, or Samuel 20:5), and when visits were made to the prophet (II Melachim, or Kings 4:22-23).

Since God required His people to offer all sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem, and since this Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. (A.D.), Rosh Chodesh, tragically has lost it primary significance.  Today, various portions of Scripture are recited, some of which are Bemidbar (Numbers) 28:11-15 (the basis for Rosh Chodesh), Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 66, and many of the Tehillim (Psalms), including Tehillah (Psalm) 104, 121, 148, 150, and portions of the Hallel Tehillim – Tehillim 113-118.  Prayers blessing the New Moon are said at night (preferably in the open air), only if the moon is clearly visible.  Prayers for the welfare of the Jewish people during the New Month are also said.  According to the Talmud, the foremost Jewish commentary, "Whoever pronounces the benediction over the new moon in its due time welcomes, as it were, the presence of the Shekhinah."

The religious, mystical Jewish people interpreted the waning of the moon each month as a symbol of the exile of the Shechinah and the shrinking of the power of holiness after the Jewish people were exiled from Jerusalem.  The reappearance of the moon was seen as a symbol of the return to perfection in the future age of redemption.

The following striking prayer is recited on Rosh Chodesh:  "Our God and God of our fathers, give us this new month for happiness and blessing, joy and gladness, deliverance and consolation, maintenance and sustenance, life and peace, pardon of sin and forgiveness of iniquity (during leap year: and atonement of transgression").  It is customary to rise on the tips of the toes in the direction of the moon while reciting three times, "As I dance toward thee, but cannot touch thee, so shall none of my evil-inclined enemies be able to touch me."

How we long for the Jewish people to see the One who is prophesied in Tehillah (Psalm) 118:22, the portion of Scripture they read every month on Rosh Chodesh – "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone."  Perhaps God will lead you to pray for the salvation of these dear Jewish people at the beginning of each month.

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