Time — A Sacred Gift from God
Yael Eckstein | October 22, 2020
We just wrapped up a busy High Holiday season, but this week the Jewish people celebrated yet another holiday, though it’s a holiday that is not very well known.
Rosh Chodesh, which literally means “the head of the month,” coincides with the new moon and marks the beginning of the new month on the Jewish calendar. In our home, we celebrated with a festive meal, cooked and served by my wonderful husband, while I got the night off!
The tradition of celebrating Rosh Chodesh goes back to the Bible. In Numbers 10:10 we read, “Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God.” Since biblical times, Rosh Chodesh has been a sacred day of thanksgiving and festivities.
On Rosh Chodesh, we celebrate time, specifically the time period ushered in at the start of every month. According to Jewish tradition, each month contains a unique energy that manifests in the holidays that occur during that month, and permeates our lives. The month that contains Passover focuses us on breaking bonds and attaining freedom. The month of Hanukkah reminds us of miracles and faith. The month of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, supports new beginnings. Each month, we have a reason to celebrate and anticipate wonderful things.
However, there is one month out of the twelve that it is an exception. It is the only month during which there are no holidays celebrated at all. That month is the month of Cheshvan, which we began this week.
Due to the lack of holidays during Cheshvan, it has earned the Hebrew prefix of “mar,” which means “bitter,” and is often referred to as “Marcheshvan.” Yet, we still celebrate the beginning of this new month, because in truth, this month need not be bitter at all. While other months bring energy to us by focusing us on some God-given virtue, Cheshvan provides us with the opportunity to bring our positive energy to it.
Instead of letting this month be bitter, we are called to make it sweet. Since it does not have any holidays, we need to intentionally shape our days. We need to approach them with joy and celebration. We need to approach them with love and faith. We can create spiritual breakthroughs and meaningful moments. We can make of this month whatever we want it to be.
Turning the Bitter into Sweet
In much the same way, these past seven months during the coronavirus pandemic have left us with a lot of empty time while many of our plans and celebrations have been put on hold. This time could easily become bitter for us — or we can make the most of it. We can choose to bring our positive energy to this challenging time in history. We can choose to make it sweet.
The main message of Rosh Chodesh is that time is a sacred gift from God, to be valued and celebrated. Life is full of easier times and more challenging times, but ultimately time is what we make of it.
As we begin another month, I intend to make the most of every day and I hope that you will too. As we declare in the monthly Rosh Chodesh prayers, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24 ESV).
With blessings from the Holy Land,