In this weeks parsha ,Bo ,h’shem gives the Jewish people the mitzvah of keeping a lunar calendar and the appointment of Nissan as the head of the year (ie the first month of the year) .
This lunar calendar , well moon to be more specific is celebrated in Kiddush lavanah, a ceremony which I first took part in this past winter holiday. The ceremony is a sanctification of the new moon. I am told that there are two main significances of looking at the moon for the Kiddush lavanah, one is the acknowledgement of a visual physical sign of h’shem’s miracles, which we rarely, if ever get the opportunity or have the ability to see. The second meaning is that the just as the moon waxes and wanes just as the Jewish people have low and high points we will too be like the full moon and a “Light unto the nations”. This brought me to thinking about the cyclical / repetitious nature of Judaism. So we follow a cyclical year as denoted by h’shem and observe mitzvot on a daily basis, we pray three times a day, celebrate/observe Shabbat once a week and observe the same festivals every year. How do we keep the mitzvot fresh and prevent these practices from becoming rituals? The true way of continuing to experience and practice mitzvot and practicing Judaism in new ways is to discuss, challenge and learn about it through torah study, by continuing to add meaning year on year we are deepening are understanding and raising the spirit / kavannah of the commandment.
The torah scrolls are a set text, every week we read one parsha and we read the same parsha every year on that week. There are the same 304,805 words in the torah, to recite these words every year is important but recitation and following commandments is nothing without a deeper understanding of the true meanings. So we continue our learning year on year, adding new meaning learning more about the torah, our mitzvoth and being a jew so every time we perform a mitzvoth it is elevated to a higher level.
May we always continue to strive to find deeper meaning and new interpretations to elevate our prayer and mitzvot.