The religious observances of Judaism rely on the lunar calendar and the monthly arrival of a new moon is an occasion for special prayers and celebration. Rosh Chodesh, Hebrew for “head of the month”, is the monthly holiday that celebrates the arrival of the new moon, marking the start of a new month on the Jewish calendar. Since a lunar month equals about 29.5 days, the Jewish calendar “splits the difference”: some months are 29 days and others 30. At the end of months that have 30 days, Rosh Chodesh is observed for two days, on the 30th day of the previous month and the first day of the new month. After months that have 29 days, only the first day of the next month is observed as Rosh Chodesh.
On the last Shabbat of each Jewish month we recite a special prayer called Birkat HaChodesh – a prayer that the coming month will be a time of good health, peace, and blessing.
“May it be Your will, Adonai our God and God of our ancestors, to reawaken in us joy and blessing in the month ahead. Grant us a long life, a peaceful life with goodness and blessing, sustenance and physical vitality; a life free from shame and reproach, a life of abundance and honor, a reverent life guided by the love of Torah, a life in which our worthy aspirations will be fulfilled.”
The Birkat HaChodesh prayer gives us a moment to reflect upon the month that is almost passed and on the month that is about to begin. It gives us a chance to check in with ourselves and to ask whether or not we are living a meaningful life to our fullest potential. If we are not, then we can use the new month to shift our course, get back on track and ask G-d for the strength and the courage to help us be more true to ourselves. In a sense, Birkat HaChodesh gives each of us a mini-Rosh Hashanah opportunity to do teshuvah and to strive to do better in the next month.
As the secular calendar turns from July to August and the Hebrew calendar flows from Tammuz to Av, the Florida Region of FJMC wishes you a meaningful Rosh Chodesh.
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