This is my blog for topics of general, Jewish interest, named for the magazine I launched in 2005. I have additional blogs for other areas. Follow on Twitter or on Google+ under Ariella Brown. Please note that comment moderation is on, which could keep your comment from appearing right away.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh
Today is both the sixth day of Chanukah and the last day of the month of Kislev. Tomorrow, the seventh day of Chanukah will also be the first day of the month of Teves. Both today and tomorrow are designated as Rosh Chodesh the celebration of the new month. Rosh Chodesh is always a semi-holiday. The morning prayers include a recitation of "half" Hallel and the additional prayer called Musaf that recalls the additional offerings designated for that day at the time of the Temple. On these days of Rosh Chodesh, we say full Hallel, for we do so all eight days of Chanukah in recognition of the miracle that lasted for eight days.
Chanukah is the only Jewish holiday that extend through two months and encompassing the days of Rosh Chodesh, so it extends from the moon's waning phase to its waxing phase, as each Jewish month begins with the "rebirth" of the moon. The Jewish people are compared to the moon, which is always renewed and comes back into full glory even when it appears to have virtually vanished. In the same way, the Jewish people have endured for thousands of years and have never been destroyed despite their enemies' attempts at decimation.
Women are associated with the moon, as well. And Rosh Chodesh is particularly significant for women. The day was given to women in recognition of their having withstood the temptation to contribute to the golden calf when the men did not. Thus women, traditionally, refrain from chores such as laundry, ironing, and sewing on Rosh Chodesh. Likewise, women refrain from work during the time the Chanukah lights burn. This is in recognition of their key role in the victory of the Maccabees. Yehudith [Judith] plied the general. Holefernes, with dairy foods and wine to make him sleepy. Then she decapitated him with his own sword. She brought the head out to the men, and, subsequently, the Jews vanquished their enemies in battle. You can scroll down onhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah for some of the details of the story.