Rosh Hodesh, also spelled Rosh Chodesh (“Ch” as in “Bach”), is the celebration of the new Hebrew month, an ancient festival finding renewal among contemporary Jews.
Its a moon song
Bubbling up and over me
Darkness, sets my spirit free.
Rosh Hodesh, enchanted time to hallow the month
It’s a Jewish spiritual practice to say a berachah, a blessing, when experiencing an awesome, beautiful, or startling sight (or sound like thunder, or delicious scent) in nature. When I suddenly get to that first view of the ocean, I always catch my breath at the grandeur and beauty of the sight. All of my senses are opened up by the vista, the crash of the waves, the fresh ocean air.
Shabbat, the Sabbath, and Jewish holidays all begin with the kindling of lights in the home. By lighting candles, we emulate God, whose first act of creation was making light, and we reveal the hidden light by welcoming in Shabbat, a day-long taste of the Garden of Eden, of the Messianic Era of harmony and peace.
After completing the candle blessing is a wonderful time to gaze into the warm and peaceful lights of Shabbat, and to offer a personal prayer for loved ones or wherever your concerns are directed. This was the realm of traditional women’s prayers (techinot), prayers uttered from the heart when lighting candles or performing other mitzvot associated with women, but need not be limited to women. Shabbat candle-lighting is also a great time to gather loved ones around and offer them words of blessing along with a hug and a kiss.
The Sages of the Talmud composed many berachot (blessings) to be recited for nature’s wonders and pleasures, including one for seeing a rainbow (a full arc in the sky):
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, zokher ha-brit, ve-ne-eman be-vrito ve-kayem at ma’amaro.
ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם, זוכר הברית ונאמן בבריתו וקים במאמרו
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, sovereign of the world, who remembers the Covenant and is faithful to the covenant and keeps the divine promise (made in the Noah story).
Modah Ani 12, chant by Rabbi Shefa Gold
This website can bring you a video or recording of wind’s image and sound, but it cannot convey the feel of the wind in your hair, scent of a pine forest in the Cascade mountains, or the heady perfume of orange blossoms and jasmine in an Israeli spring. For that you have to go outside and breathe!
Breath and wind are instrumental in playing the sacred instrument, the Shofar, or ram’s horn (or sometimes an antelope horn) that is blown on Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur as a call to repentance, a spiritual wake-up. The word shofar is from the root of sha-per, to improve. Its hollow nature, open to the life breath of the blower, encourages us to open ourselves to the divine spirit operating through us. (more…)