Celebrating the minuscule moon 

Celebrating the minuscule moon 

April 8 is going to be all about the moon.

In the afternoon, like millions across America, I will watch the solar eclipse (don’t worry, I got my eclipse glasses). A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, blocking its rays.

In the evening, like millions of Jews worldwide, I will celebrate Rosh Chodesh, a holiday revolving around the moon’s cycles, specifically, the beginning of the new Hebrew month. The Jewish calendar is primarily lunar-based, so Rosh Chodesh relates to the moon’s phases.

Interestingly, while most cultures celebrating the moon do so during its full phase, when it’s at its most brilliant, the Jews celebrate the opposite: the new moon, when it has virtually no visible light to show.

What is there to celebrate if we can barely see the moon?

Because to be big, you first need to become small.

This idea often appears in the Torah and has become a universal principle. Indeed, as the famous phrase reminds us, “No pain, no gain.” To achieve greatness, we must first go through periods of perceived smallness.

Recently, Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s CEO, gave surprising remarks to Stanford students: “I wish upon you ample doses of pain and suffering!” he said. His point? Struggle builds resilience — the path to true greatness.

The moon teaches an even more profound lesson about smallness. It’s not just an unavoidable step; in some ways, the path to greatness requires constantly renewing a small humility.

Jewish tradition compares our relationship with G-d to that of the moon with the sun. The moon shines at night not from its own light but by reflecting the sun’s rays. Similarly, we constantly receive G-d’s light and blessings. Our role is to reflect that infinite light into the world.

Sometimes we might forget this truth, feeling our talents and successes arise from our power alone.

Each new moon, as we celebrate Rosh Chodesh, gives us a powerful reorienting perspective. As the moon transitions to pitch blackness before its rebirth, it models the depths of humility, recognizing it solely exists to channel the sun’s light, even through the darkest nights.

Rosh Chodesh reminds us to embrace this same humbling realization about ourselves. We are messengers of G-d, here to share His goodness. No matter how much we accomplish, that core identity never changes. We remain humble vessels to receive and reflect the Eternal Light.

On this Rosh Chodesh, as we celebrate the rebirth of the humble new moon, may we be inspired to embrace our own smallness, recognizing our gifts and remembering the One who gave them for us to share. May we all shine brightly!

Mendy Kaminker is the rabbi of Chabad of Hackensack and an editorial member of Chabad.org. He looks forward to your thoughts and comments at Rabbi@ChabadHackensack.com

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