Shabbat Prayers: Shabbat Mevarchim Rosh Chodesh Av: Drops of Light: Overview
I wonder what it was like blessing Rosh Chodesh Av less than two weeks after the Babylonians and, in their time, the Romans, had breached the walls of Jerusalem, and poured in to rape, plunder, pillage, and murder, their bloody rage focused on the Beit Hamikdash. Were the people able to pray for, “a long life, a life of peace, a life of goodness, a life of blessing, a life of sustenance,” even as many of their brethren lay dead on the streets, and many others chained together to be sold as slaves all over the world?
Perhaps we should place ourselves in their shoes as we bless Rosh Chodesh Av:
Our light was about to be extinguished. The light of the Beit Hamikdash consumed by the dark hordes of foreigners darkening its spaces. We look back to the first light in Creation to be dimmed; the light of the great luminary that was diminished into the smaller luminary; the moon. It is impossible to hide in terror in a small Jerusalem basement, summoned out of hiding to bless the New Moon and not think back to that first appearance of the moon.
We are often reminded that the people of Israel are compared to the moon that waxes and wanes, is small and grows, only to shrink and disappear. We, too, have risen to great heights and fallen to the deepest depths.
The Moon reflects the light of the Sun just as Israel reflects the Light of God; but God’s Light is hidden. The moon turns this way and that but cannot find her light source, just as we, Israel, cannot find our Source of Light when He is so hidden.
This Blessing of the New Moon is different from all others for it, more than the other months, tells the tale of Creation, Israel, and God’s Presence, manifest, then hidden. It is the story of the Ohr haGanuz, the Great Light that illuminated each creation to reflect its purpose, the Great Light that was hidden and treasured for the Future; the light that has illuminated our hopes through all our travails and the long years of exile.
It was the Source of Light that allowed us to see even when Egypt suffered through the Ninth Plague: Darkness. Can we find some Drops of that Light as we bless the New Moon?