As we approach Rosh Chodesh Sh’vat next Thursday evening, I want to discuss a topic that has been on my mind concerning the traditions surrounding the observance of the “New Moon” as it is often translated.
Rosh Chodesh, the day that celebrates the arrival of the new Hebrew month has long been recognized as a woman’s holiday in Jewish tradition, and it is often seen a day when there is some form of abstinence from work. Talmudic commentators such as Rashi and Tosaphot explain that this abstinence generally refers to women, who traditionally celebrate Rosh Chodesh as their exclusive holiday.
So why do women merit a special holiday once a month? Being a husband and father its often easy to underestimate or even take for granted everything that our wives do each day. When us men drive off to work, we leave our wives home to tend the children and carry out the daily business of running a home alone. We have five children that range from fifteen down to four, and we homeschool the whole bunch. Add to that all the normal house work, laundry, grocery shopping etc. and I can only imagine that her day gets filled up pretty quick. Doing all that alone can certainly be a daunting task.
We also have the immense pleasure of hosting our weekly Shabbat group. As much as a blessing as that is, it also adds to the time spent in preparation on Fridays, gathering supplies, meal planning and everything else that goes along with that. It’s no wonder that by evenings end she is often exhausted.
Exactly what types of work women abstain from on Rosh Chodesh depends on your community and/or family custom. Some women don’t work at all, while others simply abstain from tedious household chores, such as laundry or sewing. If you don’t have a family or community custom, you can start your own!
I look at this as a simple way to honor our wives and show them that we appreciate everything that they do. Personally I have tried to get our kids involved with helping out during the day, and I attempt to cook dinner after getting home from work, after which the kids and I clean up so she doesn’t have to worry about any of that. It’s not much, but sometimes a little goes a long way. After all it is the picture of the love of a husband toward his bride that YHVH uses to describe the “Great Mystery” concerning Yeshua.
Eph 5:25-33 – “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband.”
So men… Why don’t we step up just a bit once a month and take a day to make our wives feel special. They deserve it!