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Wednesday, Sivan 30, 5779 / July 3, 2019


Today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) are two days of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz. 


In the Torah, where the months begin with the month of Nissan, the month of Tammuz is the fourth month of the year.  If we count the months from Rosh Hashana, Tammuz would be the tenth month of the year.


The story of the spies, which Moshe sent to scout the land of Israel, which we read about last week, took place mostly during the month of Tammuz.  They began their journey on the last day of the month of Sivan and throughout the entire month of Tammuz and returned on the ninth of Av.


Also the sin of the Golden Calf and the breaking of the Tablets on which the Ten Commandments were engraved happened on the seventeenth day of Tammuz.


The names for the months as we know them (Nissan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul, Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shvat, Adar) are not mentioned in the Torah (five books of Moses).  They were adopted much later.  In the Torah, the months are identified by numbers; one to twelve.  For example, Pesach (Passover) is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month.  The Giving of the Torah took place in the third month. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur occur in the seventh month.


Q.  Why does the Torah mention the months by numbers and not by names?


A.  The Torah commands us to remember the Exodus from Egypt every day of our lives. Referring to the months by numbers, we will always count from the first month which is the month of Nissan, when the Exodus took place.  This way, we always remember the Exodus.


Q.  Each month, we "Sanctify the New Moon" - "Kiddush Levana" with a special prayer.  In it, we say, "May it be Your will… to fill the defect of the moon, so that there be no reduction in it, and may the light of the moon be as the light of the sun, as the light of the seven days of creation, as it was before it was diminished..."  What is the meaning of the light of the moon being "diminished"?


A. Our sages tell us that, when G-d created the world, He made the sun and moon equal in size.  The moon, hoping that the sun will be smaller than her, complained, "Shouldn't there be a distinction between us?" G-d replied, "You are right. You both shouldn't be the same size! You become smaller!" However, when Moshiach will come, G-d will restore the moon. Thus, this prayer is a petition for the coming of Moshiach and the restoration of the moon.  (May it be speedily in our days!)


From every mitzvah we learn a lesson for our daily lives.  Rosh Chodesh reminds us not to be jealous of what others have and appreciate what G-d gave us. It is the same lesson as from this week’s Parsha, Korach. In the end, the one who is jealous always loses.