Israel Forever

For the week ending 13 March 2010 / 26 Adar I 5770

The Moon and Us

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The first mitzvah given to the Jewish People, even before their receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, was that of the sanctification of the new month. On Shabbat Jews throughout the world will recall this when they hear the reading of Parshat Hachodesh in addition to the regular weekly portion.

This mitzvah formed the basis of the Jewish calendar, and it was therefore the sole responsibility of the Sanhedrin to determine when the new month begins and when the holidays are to be observed.

It is unfortunate that government bodies and most of the public in Israel pay more attention to the civil calendar based on the solar year than they do to the lunar calendar which was established for us in our first mitzvah. Our people's relationship to the moon as the lesser of the two heavenly luminaries is a reminder that although we are the least in number of all nations we have the capacity, like the moon, to constantly reappear in all our brilliance after periods of darkness. This is the encouraging reminder that, like the moon, Israel is forever.

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