In the first part, HaRav Weisfish noted that a difference
between Klal Yisroel and the nations of the world is that we
use a lunar calendar and they use a solar calendar. "The sun
and the moon can be said to represent these two opposing
viewpoints. The sun is constant and unchanging. . . . Its
fixed path symbolizes the nations' belief that the world has
always existed and that nothing new is ever introduced by a
higher guiding Hand. The moon, on the other hand, is
constantly changing. This symbolizes the faith of Yisroel,
who see the whole of nature as something new and innovative,
that is under constant supervision and that therefore has the
potential for change." It was later given to the women since
they had not ever abandoned this faith in Hashem's guidance
by making the Golden Calf. "Rosh Chodesh is the day that
emphasizes our separation from the nations. . . . Yisroel. .
. believe in the world's creation from nothing and in all the
consequences of that belief. Our lives are therefore always
being renewed in Hashem's service and are constantly filled
Having come this far, we can further deepen our
understanding, quoting again from the Yalkut (#191):
Rabbi Pinchos and Rabbi Chilkiyo said in the name of Rabbi
Shimon, `The mal'ochim gather before Hakodosh
Boruch Hu and say, "Ribono Shel Olom, when is Rosh
`He says, "You are asking Me? Let you and I ask the earthly
beis din" . . . '
We see from this medrash that Yisroel have the power
to determine when the various yomim tovim will be,
because they decide when to proclaim Rosh Chodesh.
I found a passage in the writings of the Alter of Slobodka,
which dwells on the great consequence of this power and its
application to many different areas of Torah: "The Torah put
the power to change the order of creation into the hands of
Yisroel. Odom Horishon and the Ovos counted according to the
solar cycle, but Yisroel were commanded to count according to
the lunar cycle.
"Moreover, the fixing of the new month depends on them. If
they fixed Rosh Chodesh on the wrong day by mistake, or even
if they did so purposely, the months and the yomim
tovim follow them. It is the same with years. According
to Rabbi Eliezer, who holds that the world was created in
Tishrei, the counting [of months] should be from then,
whereas the Torah empowered Yisroel to count from Nisan . . .
and even to add an extra month at their discretion.
"This . . . has real consequences, with regard to the
attainment of the various stages of halachic maturity and the
liability for punishment for [aveiros]. One youth
might have been born at the beginning of Adar Sheini and
another before him, at the end of Adar Rishon. If they become
bar mitzvah in an ordinary year however, the younger
one will become obligated in mitzvos at the beginning of
Adar, before the elder one.
"The physical world is also bound by the beis din's
decisions, with regard to a young girl [who reached her
third birthday in Adar, after which the beis din
decided that there would be an added month, and that the
current month would be Adar Rishon. In such a case, the girl
reverts to her physical state prior to her third birthday] .
. . We see that the natural world is dependent upon beis
din's calculations of time."
It seems likely that this power was given to Yisroel as a
reward for the power of their faith, to which their declaring
of Rosh Chodesh alludes: Yisroel manage to overcome the
attraction of the natural world, which appears to run by
itself. They establish a connection between the lower and
upper worlds and continually strengthen their faith in the
world's creation and its constant supervision. For this, they
were awarded a degree of control over creation. They decree
when Rosh Chodesh and the yomim tovim will be and when
a year ends and a new one begins.
Rising above Time
In addition to all this, we should reveal yet another aspect
of the topic that is discussed by HaRav Yitzchok Hutner
zt'l (in Pachad Yitzchok, Rosh Hashonoh, siman
27). HaRav Hutner contrasts the power of renewal with
habit and rote. "Knesses Yisroel's innermost soul is
connected to the idea of the world's renewal. The prophets
spoke of new heavens and of a new earth. The Sages learned
that, "At some time in the future, Hakodosh Boruch Hu
will renew His world." The covenant of mitzvoh observance is
therefore a covenant of the world's renewal.
"The idea of the world's renewal is not only of relevance to
Knesses Yisroel as a whole; each individual member of
Klal Yisroel is also obligated to make use of the
power of renewal that is hidden away in his soul.
"The power of renewal is one of the wondrous properties of
the soul. When this power governs a person, his soul whispers
messages like the following: `Even though my limbs and senses
see what I am doing as nothing more than a repetition [of
what I have done in the past], my emotions feel that I am
doing it for the first time.' Such is a person's spiritual
power, that it enables him to place the stamp of originality
upon things that he has already done a hundred and one times.
We maintain the belief that the root from which a person's
power of renewal draws sustenance is the power of renewal
that is hidden in the creation. Since Hakodosh Boruch
Hu is going to renew His world, it continually revolves
around its renewal.
"On the other hand, there is the ironclad rule of time, the
rule of repetition . . . The reality of time is a reality of
constant repetition. The rule of time is part of the rule of
repeated movement . . . Here we encounter a clash of Titans:
the rule of man versus the rule of time. Man's soul exerts a
colossal pull towards renewal, while the passage of time
exerts a colossal pull towards periodicity.
"Not only does Knesses Yisroel as a whole break the
iron law of periodicity; it even transforms the essence of
this law into renewal. The law of the periodicity of time is
a consequence of the movement of the heavenly bodies. Yisroel
stand in front of the moon and says [in kiddush
levonoh] that it is, "a crown of glory for mortals, who
will one day be renewed like it [is renewed]." We thus inject
an element of renewal into the very heart of the constant
flow of periodicity. We declare the mitzvah of kiddush
hachodesh, fixing the new month, as a victory for man's
rule over the control exerted by time."
These ideas call us to experience a constant feeling of
renewal in our lives, our deeds, our Torah, our prayer and in
everything else that we do. We should carry out every action
with a feeling of novelty, of renewed submission to the
Creator and renewed pleasure at having merited the
opportunity to bring Him satisfaction.
Every Day, Every Hour, Every Moment
We will now show how the entire creation is imbued with
capacity for renewal. This will enable us to internalize this
Each month has a different name which is evidence of a
particular spiritual illumination for its duration. At the
end of maseches Sofrim we find that the months are
parallel to the twelve tribes, and the months are there
enumerated according to the order of the births of the
tribes. (Elsewhere we find that the months correspond to the
order of the tribes as they travelled through the desert.)
Every month has its special light, corresponding to the tribe
that parallels it. A Jew who lives by the `power of renewal,'
can elevate himself and align himself with the light that is
bestowed during each month.
The days, hours and minutes are also subject to the same
principle of renewal. Each day, the Leviim would say a
different perek of song during the offering of the
korbon tomid. The gemora (Rosh Hashonoh 31),
lists the perokim for each weekday: on Yom
Rishon, "The world and everything in it is Hashem's"
(Tehillim 24), because on that day He acquired heaven
and earth . . . and ruled alone, because the mal'ochim
were only created on the following day; on Yom
Sheini, "Hashem is great and is praised highly"
(Tehillim 48), because He divided the upper and lower
skies and was elevated and dwelt on high, and so on.
Why were perokim that speak about the events of the
Six Days of Creation chosen? What relevance do these events
The answer is that on each day of the week, the particular
illumination of that Day of Creation shines again, as the
Netziv explains. Every Yom Rishon, the special
spiritual light of, "The world and everything in it is
Hashem's," shines. Therefore, we say this perek on
With the changing hours of the day too, the spiritual
illuminations change. At different times of day, Chazal
instituted different tefillos, each of which has its
own particular kind of acceptance of Heaven's yoke, as the
Maharal explains (in Nesiv Ho'avodoh). Moreover, in
Reishis Chochmoh (Shaar Hayir'oh, perek 10), we find,
"Throughout the twelve hours of the day and the twelve hours
of the night, the twelve different combinations of Hashem's
Name revolve, each one at a different hour. If a person
chas vesholom sins, he affects the particular Name of
that hour . . . There are 1280 parts in each hour . . .
parallel to which there is a[nother] Name [of Hashem] which
has the same number of combinations."
From here we see that every instant of the twenty-four hours
of each day has its own particular spiritual light, which
reappears daily at that instant. The pure-hearted, who are
privy to "Hashem's secrets, that are [divulged] to those who
fear Him" (Tehillim 25:14), can direct their thoughts
towards receiving the particular bounty that is bestowed at
each specific instant.
Rosh Chodesh then, is a day with profound spiritual
implications. It ought to be used for strengthening the
foundations of one's faith, and for engendering a feeling of
vitality and renewal in serving Hashem. There can be no doubt
that these feelings will bring tremendous happiness in their
wake, enabling us to savor the joy of this Yom Tov.
HaRav Tzvi Weisfish is rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas HaRan in
Ramot and its affiliated institutions throughout