Also Known As “FIRST FRUITS”
“Molad” times = “BIRTH OF THE NEW MOON”
Psalm 104:19 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
19 He made the MOON for APPOINTED TIMES,
the SUN knows its going down.
Numbers 28:11-13 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
Rosh Chodesh: New Moon
11 “On the first of the month you are to present to Adonai a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram, and seven flawless male lambs a year old, 12 with three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering with each bull, and two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering with the ram, 13 and with each lamb a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, a burnt offering as a pleasing aroma, an offering by fire to Adonai.
The Lunar Cycle
The Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles
- .1Towards the beginning of the moon’s cycle, it appears as a thin crescent. That is the signal for a new Jewish month. The moon grows until it is full, the middle of the month, and then it begins to wane until it cannot be seen. It remains invisible for approximately two days
- 2—and then the thin crescent reappears, and the cycle begins again.
The entire cycle takes approximately 29½ days.
- 3 Since a month needs to consist of complete days, a month is sometimes twenty-nine days long (such a month is known as chaser, “missing”), and sometimes thirty (malei, “full”).
Knowing exactly when the month begins has always been important in Jewish practice, because the Torah schedules the Jewish festivals according to the days of the month.
The first day of the month, as well as the thirtieth day of a malei month, is called Rosh Chodesh, the “Head of the Month,” and has semi-festive status.
So, Why is Rosh Chodesh sometimes one day and sometimes two?
The Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle. Since a lunar month is approximately 29 days and twelve hours, we alternate months — one month is twenty-nine days and the next month is thirty. When the Sanhedrin (Rabbinical Supreme Court) was convened, the months were determined by witnesses who testified that they saw the crescent new-moon. The Sanhedrin would assemble on the thirtieth of each month, for perhaps witnesses would come and this day would be designated Rosh Chodesh (“Head of the Month”) of the upcoming month (rendering the previous month a 29 day month).
Since the thirtieth day of the month was always potentially Rosh Chodesh, whenever a month has thirty days, the thirtieth day is observed as Rosh Chodesh together with the next day, the first of the following month.
However, if a month has only twenty-nine days, then the Rosh Chodesh of the following month will be only one day–the first of the month.
The following months always have two days of Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the month plus the last day of the previous month): Cheshvan, Adar (and Adar II), Iyar, Tammuz, and Elul.
The months of Kislev and Tevet fluctuate; some years they both have one day of Rosh Chodesh, some years both have two days, and some years Kislev has one day and Tevet has two days Rosh Chodesh.
According to the calendar established in the 4th Century CE (due to the fact that it was becoming more difficult and impossible to follow a “Sanhedrin Calendar”, every month of the year, except for three, has a set number of days:
- Menachem Av—30
- Mar Cheshvan—29 or 30
- Kislev—29 or 30
- Adar—29 (in leap years, Adar I has 30 days)
Regarding the variable months of Kislev and Cheshvan, there are three options: 1) Both can be 29 days (the year is chaser), 2) both are 30 (the year is malei), or 3) Cheshvan is 29 and Kislev is 30 (the year is k’sidran, meaning these two months follow the alternating pattern of the rest of the months). Hillel also established the rules that are used to determine whether a year is chaser, malei, or k’sidran.
ROSH CHODESH: A Monthly Holiday for Women
Rosh Chodesh celebrates the monthly renewal of the moon, after it wanes to the point of disappearance. Thus Rosh Chodesh celebrates the concept of perpetuity despite life’s peaks and plunges. It is the woman who through her steadfast faith that ensures our nation’s survival; it is she who ensures that no matter how much we wane, we will always be renewed.
What is the appropriate way for a Jewish woman to celebrate Rosh Chodesh?
I would like to start this tradition, as I have two little girls and I think that it would be wonderful to do this together.
Exactly what types of work women abstain from on Rosh Chodesh depends on community and/or family custom. Some women don’t work at all, while others simply abstain from tedious household chores, such as laundry or sewing. If you don’t have a family or community custom, you can start your own!
As to how you can celebrate with your daughters: In some communities, it is customary for women to wear new clothing on Rosh Chodesh in celebration of the day’s special character. Some communities have special gatherings for women, where they will learn some Torah together. They might learn together about the month ahead and its qualities or upcoming holidays, or anything related to the month and/or women. In some gatherings the women will pray together, either from the special prayers of the day, or from the book of Tehillim, Psalms.
These are all special things that you can do with your daughters as well. But the main part is making them realize that this day is a special one, especially for women, ushering in a beautiful new month.