Gleanings: The Moon And Rosh Chodesh

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-- Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah 2.2-4

The Talmud associates Rosh Chodesh observance with the Shekhinah, the Divine Presence:

Rabbi Aha ben Hanina also said in the name of Rabbi Assi in Rabbi Yohanan's name: Whoever pronounces the benediction over the new moon in its due time welcomes, as it were, the presence of the Shekhinah. For one passage states, "This month" (Exodus 12:2) while elsewhere it is said, "This is my God, and I will glorify Him" (Exodus 15:2). ["This" here connotes something that could be pointed at with one's finger, and the use of "this" in the two verses suggests that the one who praises God at the periodic renewal of the moon, gives witness to the revelation of divine glory as manifested in natural phenomena.]

-- Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 42a

The Talmud recounts a legend of the moon becoming smaller than the sun:

Rabbi Shimon ben Pazzi pointed out a contradiction [in the account of the creation of the sun and moon]. One verse says, "God made the two great lights" (Genesis 1:16), and immediately the verse continues, "The greater light ... and the lesser light." The moon said unto the Holy One, blessed be He, "Sovereign of the Universe! Is it possible for two kings to wear one crown?" He answered, "Go then and make yourself smaller." "Sovereign of the Universe!" cried the moon. "Because I have suggested that which is proper must I then make myself smaller?" He replied, "Go and you will rule by day and by night." "But what is the value of this?" cried the moon. "Of what use is a lamp in broad daylight?" He replied, "Go. By you, Israel shall reckon the days and the years." "But it is impossible," said the moon, "to do without the sun for the reckoning of the seasons, as it is written, 'They shall serve as signs for the set times-the days and the years' (Genesis 1:14)." "Go. The righteous shall be named after you [righteous people shall be named "the Small" after the moon, which had become the small light] as we find, Jacob the Small [se Amos 7:2], Samuel the Small [a 1st century rabbi], David the Small [see I Samuel 17:4]. 

On seeing that it would not be consoled, the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, "Bring an atonement for Me making the moon smaller." This is what was meant by Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish when he declared, "Why is it that the male goat offered on the new moon is distinguished in that there is written concerning it 'unto the Lord' (Numbers 28: 15)? Because the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, 'Let this male goat be an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller.'"

-- Babylonian Talmud, Hullin 60b

Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer recounts legends from the time of Creation until the wanderings of the children of Israel in the desert.

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