New Moons (Rosh Chodesh)
For Messianic Yisrael: Past, Present, and Future
‘Rosh Chodesh’ is Hebrew for the ‘Head of the Month.’ A new month is determined by observing and marking the time that the emerging first crescent of the new moon is seen. The observation and determination of the time of the emerging new moon are important because Adonai established His Biblical calendar’s dates and times based in part on the Lunar cycles of the moon. (Genesis 1:14; Psalm 104:19) The sun, the moon and the stars, the biblical constellations are for signs, for seasons, for days and years so they all play a part in establishing YHVH’s appointed times but the beginning of every month establishes the specific dates of those times. Since Adonai chooses to involve us in what He does, we have been given the privilege and responsibility to keep track of the dates and times of His moed’im through physical observation of the New Moon.
Throughout the history of Israel, whenever an enemy of God’s people sought to destroy the Jewish nation, the observation of Rosh Chodesh was one of the practices that were always curtailed. The practice of celebrating the emerging new moon was curtailed because then Adonai’s appointed times, His Feast Days would not be kept in their seasons or at their proper times (Lev. 23)
Today YHVH’s people are returning to the ancient paths and are once again realizing the importance of keeping YHVH’s appointed times. Keeping Rosh Chodesh is a practice that is perpetual as it was required to be observed in the past and it will be kept in Messiah Yeshua’s coming millennial reign.
Isa. 66:22-23 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And so it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the LORD. Selah
Is Rosh Chodesh a festival?
The Torah seems to place Rosh Chodesh on a par with the other festivals. In Numbers chapter 28, the musaf (additional) services for Rosh Chodesh are listed along with the other festivals. The order, in Numbers 28 and 29, is:
Hag ha-Matzah the first day
Hag ha-Matzah the seventh day
Hag ha-Bikkurim – Shavuot
In the Nazarean Codicil, Rosh Chodesh is put on a par with Shabbat and the other festivals:
Colossians 2:16-17 Let no man therefore condemn you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body of Mashiach.
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.”
But our God is a God of multiple new beginnings, new seasons, and fresh starts!
Instead of celebrating once a year, God asks that the beginning of every month, each new moon, is celebrated – that’s twelve new beginnings instead of one! This is called “Rosh Chodesh”, or “head of the month”. It’s interesting that the word for month, “chodesh”, is from the root word for new: “chadash”.
“This month (Chodesh) is the beginning of months for you, it is the first month of the year for
you.” Shemot (Exodus) 12:2 the Scriptures
Also see “A CHODESH (month) of days” Bereshith 29:14; Bemidbar 11:20-21[meaning a period of 29-30days],
which corresponds to the phrase “A YERAH (month/moon) of days” Bemidbar 21:13; 2 Melakim 15:13. So, clearly
Chodesh is related to YERAH, which means moon!
“Chodesh” means NEW MOON
The meaning of CHODESH is then actually “NEW MOON” or the “NEW MOON DAY”, and only by extension
came to mean month; or the period between one new moon and another.
The Jewish Calendar
Central to Judaism is the Jewish calendar. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the
Jewish calendar is lunar. Months and holidays are based on the 29 ½-day lunar cycle.
While the Jewish calendar is lunar, it is also coordinated with the solar calendar. Many
Jewish holidays have agricultural roots which means that they must fall during a
particular season. Passover, for example, is also called Chag ha-Aviv, or the “Spring
Holiday.” Sukkot marks the harvest festival and must occur during the fall. To
compensate for the fact that the lunar year is 11 days shorter than the solar calendar, the
Rabbis developed a way to include an extra month in the year to ensure that the months
fell in their proper season.
The calendar is so central to Judaism that it is the first commandment the Jews
were given as a nation. Prior to leaving Egypt, God instructed Moses: “This month shall
mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months for you”
(Exodus 12:2). Tradition teaches that before leaving the servitude of Egypt the Israelites
were instructed to establish their own calendar. A symbol of slavery is that the slave has
no control over time; therefore, in order to truly leave the servitude of Egypt the Israelites
had to be masters over their own time.
The lunar month begins at the exact moment when the moon begins its new cycle.
At this precise moment the moon is lined up with the sun and earth in such a way that it is
completely invisible. This moment is called the molad, or “birth” of the new moon;
however, the Jewish month was not originally calculated from the molad. Rather, the
Rabbis point to the verse, “This month” which implies that there was something tangible
for Moses to see. They teach that the new month begins with the appearance of the new
crescent, which is after the molad. When the Sanhedrin, or Supreme Court, convened,
the new month could be established only by the Sanhedrin based on the testimony of two
witnesses who were able to verify that they had seen the new moon. When Rosh
Chodesh was declared, the Sanhedrin would light fires on mountaintops to let everyone
know that it was the new month. As each town saw a fire lit, they would light a fire on
its mountaintop so that the news of the new month would spread. Toward the end of the
Second Temple period, this system was changed because the Samaritans were
deliberately lighting fires on the wrong day in order to confuse the Jewish community. In
the new system of notification, the Sanhedrin sent messengers who would run from
Jerusalem to the outlying towns and villages informing everyone that Rosh Chodesh had
This new system lasted until the end of the Sanhedrin in the 4th century CE. The
last head of the Sanhedrin, Hillel II, instituted a fixed calendar based on astronomical
calculations of the molad. This fixed calendar also provides the additional leap months
that are necessary to ensure the holidays fall out in their proper time. Hillel II’s calendar
allowed Jewish life to continue despite the disbanding of the Sanhedrin.
Not in Jerusalem
Yeshua plainly said a change in worship was imminent. No longer would one look to Jerusalem as a place for guidance or worship. Obviously referring to Pentecost when the Holy Set-apart Spirit would be sent to earth to stay following His resurrection, Yeshua implied pure worship could take place anywhere. Worship in spirit and in truth means a complete surrender to Yahweh’s will, independent of where one might be. Not only could one worship Yahweh at Mount Gerizim or Jerusalem, but by a river or ocean, or anywhere on earth; alone or with several others or a congregation:
21 Yeshua said, “Lady, believe me, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Yerushalayim. 22 You people don’t know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know, because salvation comes from the Jews. 23 But the time is coming — indeed, it’s here now — when the true worshippers will worship the Father spiritually and truly, for these are the kind of people the Father wants worshipping him. 24 God is spirit; and worshippers must worship him spiritually and truly.” (John 4:21-24 )
Enlightened by Yeshua’s words, we understand the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost in 31 CE, and now indwells the saints. Yahweh allowed the Temple to be destroyed in 70 CE, so animal sacrifices could no longer be offered. Humankind is to look to Yeshua as their complete sacrifice. The Levitical priesthood is now in abeyance. We no longer look to the Temple and Jerusalem, as we are now under the Melchisedek order and look to Yeshua as our High Priest, as the new and living way to bring us to the spiritual Jerusalem.
5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be cohanim set apart for Yahweh to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Yeshua the Messiah.(Peter 2:5)
The time is coming when Yeshua will return and take control of this earth. Now we are to worship Yahweh in spirit and in truth. We accept the New Moons wherever Yahweh reveals them to us, just as He brings us the new day at sunset.
The Rosh Codesh Blessing
In fact, it is not the moon that is blessed or sanctified in birkat hachodesh or birkat halevanah, but God who is praised for renewing the moon, with the following blessing (Sanhedrin 42a):
“Praised are you, O Adonai our Yahweh, King of the Universe, who created (bara’) the skies with his word, and all heaven’s host with the breath of his mouth. He gave them appointed times and roles, and they never miss their cues, doing their Creator’s (konam) bidding with gladness and joy. He is the true creator (po’el) who acts faithfully, and he has told the moon to renew itself. It is a beautiful crown for the people carried by Yahweh from birth (Israel), who will likewise be renewed in the future in order to proclaim the beauty of their creator (yotsram) for his glorious majesty. Praised are you, O Adonai, who renews new moons.”
Blessing of the New Month
Recite the following at the start of a new Hebrew month
(i.e., when you first see the cresent of the new moon in the sky).
May it be Your will, Yahweh our Adonai and Adonai of our fathers, to renew our lives in the coming
month. Grant us a long life, a peaceful life with goodness and blessing, sustenance and physical
vitality, a life informed by purity and piety, a life free from shame and reproach, a life of abundance
and honor, a life embracing piety and love of Torah, a life in which our heart’s desire for goodness
will be fulfilled.
May He Who wrought miracles for our ancestors, redeeming them from slavery to freedom,
redeem us soon and gather our dispersed from the four corners of the earth in the fellowship of the
entire people Israel.
The new month of (___________________________).
May it hold blessings for us and for all His people.
May the Holy One bless the new month for us and for all His
people, with life and peace, joy and gladness, deliverance
Bless Yahweh, Who is to be praised for all eternity.
In Yeshua Our Messiah’s Name Amein.