Dear Readers,

This week we greet the new Jewish month of Nissan. Chodesh Tov!

While still in Egypt, two weeks before the Exodus, G‑d instructed Moses to set the Jewish calendar by consecrating the monthly new moon. G‑d tells him that Nissan is to be the “head of months” and instructs about the Passover offering.

The Mechilta explains that G‑d showed Moses the new moon at its moment of rebirth and said to him: “When the moon is reborn, mark the beginning of a new month.” The Jewish calendar has been set by the moon ever since.

The Zohar teaches that the people of Israel set their calendar by the moon, because they are “the moon of the world.”

Midrash Rabbah explains that the early generations of our nations resembled the moon:

The moon begins to shine on the 1st of the month and increases in luminance till the 15th day, when her orb becomes full; from the 15th till the 30th day, her light wanes, on the 30th it is not seen at all. With Israel, too, there were 15 generations from Abraham to Solomon. Abraham began to shine … Jacob added to this light … When Solomon appeared, the moon’s orb was full … Henceforth the kings began to diminish … With Zedekiah [when the Holy Temple was destroyed] the light of the moon dimmed entirely.

In Egypt, for decades, the Jewish people were bitterly enslaved and then, the persecutions increased! But as it did, the Jewish heart and soul grew stronger. “The more they were oppressed, the more they increased and the more they spread” (Exodus 1:12). Despite our oppression, rather than breaking us as a people, we emerged; crushed perhaps, but never broken.

This pattern has repeated itself throughout our nation’s many exiles, persecutions and banishments.

For two weeks each month, the moon diminishes, steadily reducing until it is completely invisible so that it can once again be reborn. In doing so, the moon teaches us that darkness can give birth to light, and we can exploit our setbacks to reach greater, new levels.

Currently, the world is going through an extremely challenging time, as we battle a threatening virus that is wreaking havoc on the way we normally go about our day-to-day lives, and so many are becoming sick and infected. During these trying times, we need to draw closer to our Source, to find greater strength and faith, to rise together, in unity with one another, as greater people, as we await the final redemption.

The story of the moon is the story of our people and the story of each one of us. Like the moon, we dip only to soar, and each defeat can help us grow stronger and bring us to unprecedented new heights.

Stay safe and healthy!

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW