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How does a Jewish woman celebrate Rosh Chodesh?

How does a Jewish woman celebrate Rosh Chodesh?

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Question:

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.

Answer:

Rosh Chodesh, the day (or days) that celebrate the arrival of the new Jewish month, has long been recognized as a woman's holiday. In the Talmud1 we read that Rosh Chodesh is a day when there is some form of work abstinence. The Talmudic commentators Rashi and Tosaphot explain that this refers to women, who traditionally celebrate Rosh Chodesh as their exclusive holiday.

Why do women merit a special holiday once a month? In the incident of the Golden Calf, the women refused to relinquish their jewelry to the men who were building the calf. They had faith in G‑d and His servant Moses, and refused to take part in the creation of the Calf. As a reward, G‑d gave them an extra holiday each month.

According to kabbalistic teachings, women share a special relationship with the moon (see The Moon and Us for more on this topic), and as such they have special reason to celebrate Rosh Chodesh, the new moon.

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.

Click here for more on Rosh Chodesh.

Chana Weisberg for Chabad.org

Footnotes
1.

Megillah 22b.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Vicky Kent uk August 17, 2017

Where in the bible does it tell us that the women would not give their jewellery to the men? Reply

farah sajid Pakistan May 5, 2016

In our country here is no Rabbi and no synagogue to go learn and pray with community.For my children no facility for bar and bat mitzvah My hole family learning from chabad org, and we are thankful to all the team of chabad org and also our Rebbe Rabbi Team who guide us and give us blessing every time.
Thank's a lot. Reply

Raizel jerusalem, Israel May 5, 2011

Chabad Custom? What is the exact Chabad custom for abstaining from work on Rosh Chodesh? Is it just sewing and laundry? How do you define which chores should be held off? Reply

Anonymous May 28, 2009

can you really create your own tasks? I did not know that one can invent a custom... Reply

Malkie Janowski for Chabad.org November 5, 2008

Dear Alina,

The womens' refusal is discussed in the Midrash Tanchuma, referenced on our site.

It reads as follows:

Aaron tried to busy them with tasks. He said to them: "Remove the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives"--a most difficult thing, for the women, who saw all the miracles that G-d performed in Egypt, at the Sea and at Sinai, would surely not participate... When the women did not do as the men demanded, the men removed their own jewelry, as it says, "And all the people unloaded the golden earrings which were in their ears." Reply

Aliya Brooklyn, NY October 27, 2008

Jewish Women and Rosh Hodesh Could you please direct me to the source which talks about women's refusal to relinquish their jewerly for Golden Calf? I'd greatly appreciate it. Reply

Baruch Davidson February 27, 2008

Why Rosh Chodesh? On Rosh Chodesh, Jewish women celebrate their refusal to relinquish their jewelry for the making of the Golden Calf, and to the contrary, their eagerness to donate their jewelry to the Mishkan.
The Mishkan was erected on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, which is the "Head" of the Rosh Chodesh of all other months. For this reason, Rosh Chodesh was chosen as the day to celebrate this unique dedication to G-d.
-Baalei Hatosfos to Shemot 35:22 Reply

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