Just today, Israel celebrated “Rosh Chodesh Nisan” – the beginning of the month of freedom called “Nisan”. Passover is only 2 weeks away, on the 15th day of Nisan.

Jewish months are based on the Moon – ours is a lunar calendar. In fact, the word “month” is derived from the word “moon”.

The very first commandment given to the Jewish people as a nation emerging from Egypt was “Rosh Chodesh” – proclaiming the beginning of new months on the Jewish calendar via sitings of the new moon in the sky.

For centuries, new moons had to be “sited” and new months had to be “proclaimed” in Jewish courts or there was no Jewish calendar. And without a calendar there would be no Jewish holidays.

Why is the moon so important to the Jews?

The New Moon symbolizes renewal. Century after century, the Jewish nation has demonstrated its unique ability to rise up from near destruction and restore itself to its former glory. Just as the moon disappears each month and then re-appears and renews itself for a fresh new beginning, so too the Jewish nation strengthens itself after tragedy strikes and restores itself to its former glory.

In Egypt, the Jewish people had fallen to a very low spiritual level, paralleling their lowly physical status as slaves. In just seven short weeks, the Jews were freed from bondage and had risen to tremendous spiritual heights. They became ready for a unique encounter with God – an open revelation on Mt. Sinai, when three million Jews were given the Torah directly by God.

Throughout history, the Jewish nation has fallen – both physically and spiritually. But just as the moon wanes and waxes, the Jewish nation suffers tragedy, only to rebuild itself and reach even greater heights.

Why a Full Moon on Passover?

As we read in the Passover Haggadah on Seder night, “In every generation nations rise up against us to destroy us, but the Holy One Blessed be He, saves us from their hands”. We build, we grow, we transform our nation from the small sliver of a new moon to a robust, round, full moon in all of its glory. This is our legacy.

And that’s why Passover is celebrated on the 15th of month – when the moon is full and shining in all of its glory. That is when the people of Israel are shining, as Passover marks the birth, beauty and splendor of our nation. It marks the beginning of our journey towards the complete fulfillment of our mission in this world.

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