Kabbalistic Glossary: New Moon/Rosh Chodesh
- The first day of the month in the kabbalistic calendar, when all the unique Light and blessings available for the upcoming month can be awakened.
“To bless the New Moon at the proper time is like greeting the Divine Presence.” – Talmud, Sanhedrin 42a
The New Moon, or Rosh Chodesh, which translates from Hebrew as “head of the month,” is the first day of the lunar month. The kabbalistic calendar is a lunisolar calendar, meaning that months are based on lunar months, and years are based on solar years. Each month corresponds to one of the 12 signs of the zodiac, and as such, each month affects us in different ways with unique gifts available to us. For example, in the month of Aquarius we can connect to the energy abundance. During the month of Sagittarius, we can connect to the energy of miracles.
Kabbalists teach that at the beginning of any month, on the New Moon, all the Light and blessings that we want to manifest for that entire upcoming month can be awakened. Just as a seed contains the DNA of the entire tree, the first day of the new month contains the DNA of what will be revealed that month. Each New Moon, therefore, is like a one-day window in time we are given to plant the seeds for the month ahead we hope to create.
The New Moon, however, doesn’t just give us the opportunity to draw power from the month’s positive aspects; it also gives us the opportunity to get the assistance we need to resist or transform the negative ones. For example, those born under the sign of Gemini are known to be quick to change their minds. It is a sign that does not tend to stick with something and see it through, and in the month of Gemini, all of us are subject to this. However, by connecting to the powerful energy of Rosh Chodesh, we can tap into what we need to transform this quality, thereby giving us the Light to persevere in the month ahead.
While it is powerful to connect to the New Moon with a large group of people, doing so on our own also reaps the powerful benefits. In order to be able to even connect to the New Moon and tap into the month’s upcoming gifts and get the Light we need to overcome its negative aspects, we have to first be aware of its unique attributes. Then, we connect to drawing in those gifts and planting the seeds for the upcoming month by:
Meditating on that month’s Tetragrammaton combination
The Tetragrammaton, the Four Letter Name of God
The twelve zodiac signs are not just divided into four different categories because of the elements (earth, water, air, fire). Kabbalistically speaking, the signs are divided into four different categories in accordance with the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, the highest and most powerful name of the Creator, the Yud, Hei, Vav, Hei. Each month has its own unique Tetragrammaton combination that is the channel through which its Light and blessings come down. For example, the letter combination associated with the month of Taurus is the Yud Hei Hei Vav, and it can connect us to that month’s energy of healing and wisdom.
The Tetragrammaton combination for the Month of Taurus
Therefore, meditating upon each month’s Tetragrammaton combination on the New Moon, asking to both draw in its specific gifts and for the assistance to overcome its negative attributes, can help us connect directly to the conduit through which that Light is available.
Meditating on the Letter and Planet that created that month
According to Kabbalah, the 22 Aramaic letters (which are the same letters that are used for the Hebrew language) are the building blocks of the entire universe, with each letter revealing an aspect of Creation. And the letters, as such, are the actual DNA for the 12 signs of the zodiac, as well as all the heavenly bodies, or planets. Each letter, therefore, has a very specific energy.
Two Aramaic letters are associated with every month—one for the planet that rules the month, and the other for the corresponding sign of the zodiac. For example, the month of Pisces was created by the letters Kuf, which created the sign of Pisces, and the letter Gimel, which created the planet Jupiter, the ruling planet of Pisces. The letters are like the keys that unlock access to that month’s source of spiritual energy, and therefore, meditating on these “DNA” sequences that created each month, with the intention of drawing in the positive gifts of that month and asking for assistance to avoid the negative ones, helps us do just that.
Letters for the Month of Pisces
The New Moon is discussed at length in the Zohar, particularly in the section of Shlach Lecha where it is stated:
Zohar Schlach Lecha v. 54. "That every new moon": HE INQUIRES: Why SPECIFICALLY ON THE FIRST OF THE MONTH? HE RESPONDS: The secret of the matter is due to the renewal of the moon that is adorned to illuminate from the sun at that time, MEANING THAT THEN IS THE TIME OF THE SUPERNAL UNION OF ZEIR ANPIN AND THE NUKVA CALLED SUN AND MOON. Similarly on "every Shabbat," "every" is the moon, WHICH IS MALCHUT and "Shabbat" is the sun, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN, since the light comes to her from him. Therefore, it is all the same thing, THAT THE FIRST OF THE MONTH AND THE SHABBAT ARE INDICATIVE OF THE SAME, THAT IT IS THE TIME OF THE UNION OF ZEIR ANPIN AND MALCHUT. HOWEVER, THERE IS A DEGREE OF DIFFERENCE IN THE ELEVATION, THAT ON THE NEW MOON, THEY ARE IN THE LEVEL OF YISRAEL-SABA AND TEVUNAH, AND ON THE SHABBAT IN THE LEVEL OF ABA AND IMA. That is the clear definition of this matter, except for the sinners who are sentenced to death in all the realms, which means being cut off from all the realms and losing all if they have not come to repentance. Rabbi Yehuda said: Blessed is the All Merciful that I asked and gained these, and came to understand THESE MEANINGS.
According to the Rambam (Maimonides), the commandment of Sanctifying or Blessing the New Moon was a task for the Sanhedrin when it existed in Israel and was passed down through the Oral Tradition, though not explicit in the Torah. Since there is no longer a Sanhedrin, we take this precept upon ourselves as it was passed down from teacher to student.
There is actually no mention of the names of the months as we call them today in the Torah. It is only in later biblical writings, in the Books of Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah, that they are mentioned for the first time. However, the Zohar tells us that every time the 12 tribes are mentioned in the Torah, it actually represents taking control over a particular sign of the zodiac, because each one of the 12 tribes, it tells us, rules over a specific zodiac sign and is therefore a channel to help us control it.
But, why is there no mention of the names as we know them today in the Torah?
Kabbalistically, names are powerful. And the names of the months, we have learned, are a code to their unique energies. These codes, and an understanding of them, the Talmud teaches, were not disclosed until after the Babylonian exile.
The kabbalists teach that the names of the months were given to Moses at Mount Sinai, along with the Torah and much other secret wisdom. The Zohar, for instance, was given to him then, but not revealed until many centuries later by Rav Shimon bar Yochai. Just as it was not yet the time for the Zohar to be disclosed at that point, neither was it the time for the names of the months to be revealed… and it wouldn’t be time until the Babylonian exile, which the Talmud tells us, was connected to the names’ revelation. And while the Torah does record some ancient names for the months, those are names that disappeared once the Babylonian names were adopted.