New Moon, New You!
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The Jewish people and calendar revolve around the moon and its many phases, to give some perspective, we are now in the year 5781 according to our lunar calendar. Reb Noson of Breslov teaches that sanctifying the new moon (kiddush hachodesh) is essentially this idea of looking for and finding the good point concealed in darkness. Explaining that the moon’s diminishment alludes to tzimtzum, Hashem’s constriction of his infinite light at the earlier stage of creation.
Each month, the new Moon first appears in the sky and has no more than a small point of light. Prior to fixing the Jewish calendar circa 358C.E., a new month was deemed to have begun only after the Sanhedrin, based on the testimony of two reliable witnesses who had seen the new moon itself. When the witnesses see a sliver of the moon, they would come before the court, and say, “Mekudash, Mekudash” (“sanctified, sanctified”). The court then declares the new moon official. Then and still today, we as a community give thanks for the reappearance of the moon by reciting the Kiddush Halevanah (Sanctification of the Moon) blessings. Seeing just the potential of rebirth and all that that cycle brings is holiness, and all of our festivals and rituals revolve around that practice.
Sanctifying even just a tiny bit of the moon’s light elevates it; it rectify and restores the moon. And when we rejoice over just a mere speck of the light – namely that good point that we merit to find despite it being infinitesimally small and concealed in darkness – we ourselves are rectified and genuinely becoming deserving of merit through this. Conceptually, this is the rectification restoration of the moon from it’s blemish, which is something we need to do for ourselves always.
The lesson of Azamra that is at the core of Breslov teaching is to rectify harsh judgment by finding the “good point” in yourself and others and judging it favorably, elevating “bad” into revealed good.