The golden moonlight
Sparkling gems on the water
Sparkling life in me
Life’s born of water
With soul imbued by the moon
Sundown starts the day
“And it was evening and it was morning, one day” (Genesis 1:5).
Jewish tradition/belief explains that when G‑d created time, He first created night and then day. Therefore, a Jewish calendar date begins with the night beforehand. While a day in the secular calendar begins and ends at midnight, a Jewish day goes from nightfall to nightfall.
The Jewish calendar is rooted in the cycles of the moon. Each month of the year is a lunar month, beginning on the new moon and ending when the moon is dark. Jews celebrate the first day of the month, the new moon or Rosh Chodesh, as a minor holiday. Sometime during the first two weeks of the month, often at the end of the Sabbath, Jews recite a blessing over the moon in gratitude for having been given the cycles of time. In the last week of the month, on the morning of the Sabbath, Jews announce the name and date of the coming month both as a welcome and a reminder to the community. This announcement signals that the current month is coming to a close. Some Jewish traditions refer to the last day of the month, the dark of the moon, as Yom Kippur Katan (a little day of atonement), and regard it as a day of fasting and penitence. Then the new moon of the next month begins. When the moon dies we contemplate our own mortality, and at the birth of the moon we celebrate our potential for rebirth.
One of the words for “moon” or “month” is chodesh, renewal. The traditional Jewish blessing over the waxing moon says to the moon: “You are a crown of glory for those who are borne in the womb, for they, like you, are destined to be renewed.” Jewish tradition sees the cycles of the moon as a metaphor for the renewal of life.
Photo & poem
by Kay Watkins, 2022.