Rosh Chodesh – Hebrew for “head of the month” – is the monthly holiday that celebrates the arrival of the new moon, marking the start of a new month in the Jewish calendar.
During the new moon, the moon is between the sun and the Earth, the side of the moon that is lit by the sun is facing away from our planet. This means that the moon is still up there, but we can’t see its light. As the moon continues to follow its orbit around the Earth, it moves away from the sun. Gradually its sunlit surface becomes more and more visible until it reaches its full form in the middle of the month.
Inspiration from the Rebbe:
– All this shares a connection to the Jewish people for “the Jews resemble the moon and establish their calendar according to the moon.” On the one hand, Rosh Chodesh involves a concealment of the moon. On the other hand, however, this concealment symbolizes a union between the sun and the moon, as they get close together. A union which is representative of the union between G‑d and the Jewish people… (from the Rebbe’s talk on the 28th of Sivan, 5751).
During Rosh Chodesh special portions are added to the daily prayers:
Partial Hallel (Tehillim, chapters 113-118) is recited following the Shacharit morning prayer.
Yaaleh V’yavo prayer is added to the Amidah and Birkat ha-Mazon.
The additional Musaf prayer is said.
Tachnun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted.
Rosh Chodesh customs:
Many women refrain from doing certain types of housework on Rosh Chodesh). It’s an age-old custom, dating back to the days of Moshe Rabbeinu. Many have the custom to mark Rosh Chodesh with a festive meal.
According to the custom cited by the Rebbe Rayatz, it is customary to study one’s “personal” chapter of Tehilim with the Rashi’s commentaries.
The Rebbe notes that Rosh Chodesh is a good time to arrange a farbrengen – a warm, inspirational chassidic gathering where words of Torah are shared and melodies are sung over refreshments and treats.