Here Comes the Moon, Here Comes the Sun – Bo
By Rabbi David Kalb
Rabbi David Kalb, Director of Jewish Education for the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at 92nd Street Y, continues his series of guest blogs below, with another post on the weekly Torah portion.
This week’s Parshah (Torah Portion), Parshat Bo, mentions the Mitzvah (Commandment) of Kidush Hachodesh, the Mitzvah of sanctifying the month according to the Sefer Hachinuch Mitzvah 4. It can be found in the Torah in Shemot (Exodus) Chapter 12 lines 1 and 2. The mitzvah of Kidush Hachodesh results in us having the Jewish holiday of Rosh Chodesh which marks the first day of the new Hebrew month. The first day of the new month is based on when the new moon comes. All of this forms the basis for the entire Jewish calendar, which all of the Jewish holidays are dependent on.
To truly understand the importance of the holiday of Rosh Chodesh, we need to examine the story of the creation of the moon and the sun in the Torah. The story can be found in Bereishit (Genesis) Chapter 1, lines 14 and 15: God creates two lights that appear to be equal in strength and are responsible for separating day and night, as well as for marking the holidays, days, and years. Though the Torah does not name these lights, we can assume that the light of the night is the moon and the light of the day is the sun. In line 16, the Torah does make a distinction between the lights: God pronounces the light of the day (the sun) to be the greater light and the light of the night (the moon) to be the lesser light.
What causes the change from the apparent equality of the sun and the moon in lines 14-15 to the dominance of the sun in line 16? In Judaism, the moon plays a more dominant role in marking holidays and determining the calendar. Why, then, does God pronounce the sun to be dominant over the moon?
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