Moon Over Maui

A Jewish Mystical Journey through the Year

Here Comes the Moon …

Written By: Jueli Garfinkle - Aug• 09•12

I’ve never much liked surprises. I don’t mind the rush of adrenaline that courses through my bloodstream after a sudden burst of surprise. But more, I enjoy the building of anticipation knowing something is going to soon happen.

This week, excitement is eagerly building for the arrival of the “Sabbath of Blessing” (Shabbat Mevorchim). On Saturday—and (almost) every Saturday preceding a new moon cresting in the sky—we have the opportunity to anticipate and declare that a new cycle is about to begin, a new month, a new moon.

Each month, the crescent moon points to the awe of Creation, and connects us with our very nature.  It is a miracle to be alive. And no matter what we currently are living through—good or bad, uplifting or challenging—we are reminded by the moon’s endlessly renewing cycle that all life experiences are transitory.

This Saturday, August 11, 2012, is Shabbat Mevorchim, the Sabbath of Blessing. Typically on the Saturday preceding a new moon, we announce only one month. But this Saturday, we may proclaim the pending arrival of the next two moon cycles: Elul and Tishrei[1].

(The moon of Tishrei is the only month that Rosh Chodesh is not officially observed because it falls on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, beginning the month richest with holidays. For this reason, we may include it with Elul, the moon cycle during which we begin preparing for Tishrei’s Days of Awe.)

The formal blessing is called the Blessing of the Moon (Birkat HaChodesh), and can be found in prayer books or online. It includes proclaiming the day and exact hour of the new moon, precisely when the moon is between the earth and the sun.

Formality, however, is not essential. In fact, the Baal Shem Tov of blessed memory, one of the greatest Jewish mystical rabbis, taught that words from your heart are the highest form of connecting with the Divine.

So on Saturday, GO LOOK AT THE MOON. Participate in the Sabbath of Blessing. Declare for yourself and all of creation the prayers, hopes, and dreams that swim within you.  “The birth of each new moon provides a time for introspection, for setting priorities, and for giving voice to inner hopes for ourselves and others[2].” Allow the words to spill from your heart.

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1. J.D. Eisenstien, Otzar Dinim u’Minhagim (Tel Aviv, 1970), p. 57, as quoted in Celebrating the New Moon: A Rosh Chodesh Anthology (Maryland, 2006) p. 139).

2. V.H. Reinstein, Anticipating the New Moon: Birkat HaChodesh, p. 130 in Celebrating the New Moon: A Rosh Chodesh Anthology (Maryland, 2006).

Photo credit: Crescent moon: http://www.spacew.com/gallery/image003396.html

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