I don't mean to brag, but I need to share this with you, Rabbi. The other day, I was reading to my four year old son a children's book about the Jewish months, when he stopped and asked me a straight-forward question: What's the big deal about Rosh Chodesh, the "New Moon," when the moon is hardly visible; shouldn't we celebrate instead the middle of the month when the moon is round and perfect?


Firstly, congratulations to you on the accomplishments of your little Einstein and for training your son to think and analyze everything at such a young age.

Now, to his question. Someone once asked a rabbi, "Why do rabbis always answer a question with a question?" And the rabbi responded, "Why not?"

So, let me ask you a question: your son's question is impressive, indeed. But, would you be that impressed if you would hear that same question from an older child? Why is it that we kvell (glow with pride) when our little ones say something bright, but are not so impressed when they repeat the same comment when they're older?

We don't appreciate children for what they have, but for what they lackSome further questions: when your son was born, some four years ago, there was a flurry of excitement in your home. Mazal tov greetings were exchanged, balloons were blown and gifts were delivered. Yet, if he was the average newborn, he didn't exactly look like a beauty contest winner. They often have misshapen or pointy heads, no necks, short legs, and that reddish-purple-changing-to-pinkish-red skin color. And, then there is the issue of intelligence and maturity. Wouldn't it be wise to "hold the celebrations" until the baby is a grown-up, mature, good-looking, independent teenager?

The reason we love children so much is because of their innocence, simplicity, and purity. In truth, we don't appreciate them for their virtues, for what they have, but for what they lack. There is no sophistication, no hidden agendas and catches. They are themselves; they say exactly what they mean or feel. Adults want to be something. Children are focused on just being.

The celebration of a birth is the acknowledgement that the child exists. We're not out to celebrate our kid's perfection and achievement. We celebrate our children for who they are, or more correctly, because they are.

Crossing the gap from non-existence to existence involves a greater leap than any subsequent transition. All future achievements, virtues and qualities are superimposed on birth, the very fact that an existence has been created.

Same with the moon. The fifteenth of the month is when the moon is perfect, round and beautiful. But Rosh Chodesh is the celebration of the mere fact that the moon exists.

As a people, too, we have had different phases: our better days when everything was dandy and rosy, and our end-of-the-month waning times. But, we celebrate the fact that despite all odds, we exist. We are. And we're here to stay.

The laws of history insist that we should have long become extinct; at times it seems as though we're about to disappear from planet Earth—but so does the moon. The shining of the moon anew each month reassures us of our ultimate rebirth—the Redemption.