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Why is Rosh Chodesh Considered a "Women's Holiday"?

Why is Rosh Chodesh Considered a "Women's Holiday"?

Women and Rosh Chodesh

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Question:

Why is Rosh Chodesh, the holiday that marks the entry of a new Jewish month, considered a "women's holiday"?

Answer:

Indeed, although the semi-holiday of Rosh Chodesh is celebrated by both men and women, there's a special feminine connection to the day. This expresses itself in the fact that women abstain from certain forms of work on this day—for the details, see How does a Jewish woman celebrate Rosh Chodesh?

The special connection between women and Rosh Chodesh harks way back to the episode of the Golden Calf, when the women declined to participate in the "fundraising" effort and refused to surrender their jewelry for use in making the idol. As a reward, they were given Rosh Chodesh as a day which they observe more than the men (Tur, Orach Chaim 417).

The Rebbe elaborates on this a bit, and explains that the women's non-participation stemmed from their greater faith. Though they had just spent more than two centuries in idolatry-steeped Egypt, a fact that explains why the men caved so quickly at the hint of trouble, the women's faith remained unshakable, and they considered the idea of making an idol totally unthinkable.

The Rebbe continues to explain that all of Judaism is based on this strong faith, and though faith at times can become "fuzzy," it is the women who, in every situation, remain steadfast in this faith and pass it on to their children—the future generations (see Likutei Sichot vol. 8 pg. 315ff).

Perhaps this explains the special connection to Rosh Chodesh. 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—notwithstanding life's peaks and plunges. And it is the woman who – through her steadfast faith – ensures our nation's survival; it is she who ensures that no matter how much we wane, we will always be renewed.

Rabbi Moshe Goldman is the Director of Chabad of the Waterloo Region in Waterloo, Ontario. He is also a member of the Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team.
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Moshe David Los Angeles, CA October 8, 2010

celebrate Jewish Mother's Day on the 11th of Cheshvan! This year, 5771, 2010, falling out on the evening of October 18th and the day of teh 19th! woohoo! Reply

lee ktz October 7, 2010

an amazing informative piece!
thanks you! Reply

David Heidingberg Richmond October 7, 2010

@ Taylor: Interesting theory about the women not being allowed to donate. Except that the Bible is pretty explicit about that. Aaron said to the people: "Go and take the jewelery from your wives and children and bring it to me" (Exodus 32:2). As the Midrash elaborates, the women refused to give their jewelry for idols.

And lest you say that the women just didn't like giving up their jewelry, check the Bible again: the women went crazy with donations for G-d's tabernacle (parshat Terumah). Reply

artisanrox Hazleton, PA October 7, 2010

Not every woman's cycle is something to celebrate, believe you me. I preferto not think about that and simple remember the explanation the Rabbis give. Women have always been smarter than men in Torah, and the one thing that can ruin a nation faster than anything is when the women aren't as smart as they should be (which is what is happening in this country, USA). Reply

Taylor San Francisco, CA June 22, 2010

What an odd answer. While I don't doubt the veracity of your sources, it seems to me to be a fairly far-fetched idea in response to that question. Usually, the best answer to something is the most obvious. Don't we all know that a woman's monthly cycle is related to that of the moon? Not every woman experiences it exactly on that schedule. But there is enough of a connection that it seems to me that cycle (one of loss and renewal), combined with the visible cycle of the moon (also of loss and renewal) is what gives us (women and men) a strong connection to spirituality and time. It may be that we (women) did not participate in the funding of the golden calf, which is terrific. Or it could be women weren't *allowed* to contribute to the golden calf, which would negate the theory of our excellent devotion. I think the simplest answer is almost always the best one. And since women are physically connected to the moon, we observe Rosh Chodesh in order to renew ourselves. Reply

Max Fredericton, NB/Canada June 19, 2010

While I know what you mean, remember that some people need their faith to be "abstract and intellectual," and you shouldn't think it any less "real" if that's the case. Many of the greatest believers in Jewish history were Kabbalists whose faith was nothing if not "abstract"!

But it's wonderful that your faith and hers are on the same page. To have met someone that you love and that understands you and your ideas is a gift from G-d. My wife's faith is indeed stronger than mine, and she keeps me going in tough times. Reply

Aaron ny new york, NY June 17, 2010

Thank G-d, I am engaged to a beautiful woman who lives constantly with faith in G-d and His deliverance. It is apparent that her faith is concrete and real, not abstract and intellectural. May it be G-d's will, in His infinite wisdom, to provide us with the knowledge that we are living in the times of Moshiach, and we need only to open our eyes to see the true reality. Reply