Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Full Moon

A couple of weeks ago, our nation celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the lunar landing. The success of the Apollo missions marked not only a triumph for all of humankind, but also reconnected us with the central figure of the night sky, the moon.
Being a solar powered people, we tend not to pay too much attention to this celestial body, without which, some scientists feel life as we know it could exist. According to this theory, the gravitational pull of the moon is a central force helping sustain the dynamic nature of the earth. It is this dynamic earth that enabled life to exist and continue to exist, unlike some of our other inner-planetary brethren.
But there is another piece, a Jewish piece to the moon that should be noted as well. For though the origins of several of our key festivals are agricultural in nature; our calendar, and by extension, our observances are inexorably tied to the moon.
So important is the moon to Jewish life, that the Sanhedrin, the full rabbinic court needed two witnesses to testify as to when it was a new moon in order to start the month. Only upon cross examination could the new month begin.
Also our days begin in the evening. This comes from the book of Genesis “and there was evening, and there was morning.” But even still, evening is the territory of the moon’s constant wanderings.
So in a way, our days, our nights, our festivals, and our celebrations, are all in one way or another, bound to the moon.
Thus when we celebrate humanity’s achievements in reaching the moon, in a way, we are also reminded not just of humans touching the moon, but of how the moon continues to touch our lives as well.

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