By Rabbi David Jaffe
As I’ve been writing letters and making phone calls to get out the vote these past weeks I’ve found my emotional state fluctuating between feeling hopeful at times and resigned to more of the same at others. When feeling resigned that things will never really change, my get out the vote activities have the feel of an obligation, or checking a box so I can say that at least I tried. Maybe you are experiencing something like this as well.
Today is Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan, and the Torah reading for today shook me out of this sense of resignation. When describing the sacrifices in the Temple for Rosh Chodesh, the Torah summarizes, “That shall be the monthly burnt offering for each new moon of the year.” (Numbers 28:14). The Hebrew is more evocative –
“Zot olat chodesh b’chodsho l’chodshei ha’shana/
זֹ֣את עֹלַ֥ת חֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ בְּחָדְשׁ֔וֹ לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה׃”
Notice the repetition of the term “Chodesh” -which means “month” and is the same root word as “new” or “renewal.” The Torah is screaming “RENEW, RENEW, RENEW!” This actually woke me out of my resignation and got me to notice, albeit for just a moment, that maybe something new WILL come from all the efforts so many of us are putting in.
In the traditional Rosh Chodesh liturgy we pray, “May this month be the end of our suffering and the beginning of our redemption.”
I can’t say it any better! And, may our efforts over these coming weeks and months be infused with a felt sense that renewal and change is actually possible.