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    Rosh Chodesh Tishri – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. We announce every Rosh Chodesh the Shabbat before. Why not Rosh Chodesh Tishri?

    tishreiA. It is not necessary, because Rosh Chodesh Tishri is also Rosh HaShanah, the approach of which is seen all around us.

    The other months are different, since, in the early stages of our history, people were unsure about dates without an announcement. Even in our own age, with all our technological media, we sometimes wonder what the date is and have to ask a computer or cell phone.

    Jewish life and observance depend on knowing the Hebrew date. Announcing the month is a religious duty. Chapter 12 of Sh’mot tells us, “This month (Nisan) shall be for you the first of the months”; Rambam states that this indicates an obligation to announce the months (Hil. Kiddush HaChodesh 1).

    Originally the determination of when the month began depended on eye-witness testimony before the Sanhedrin, but later it was governed by cheshbon (calendrical calculation).

    The wording of the announcement of Rosh Chodesh, asking God to give us a good month, is based on a personal prayer of Rav (Ber. 16b), rewritten in the plural.

    The importance of Rosh Chodesh is connected with the phases of the moon. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, so does Jewish history.

    A person’s spiritual life also goes through stages, oscillating between greater and lesser faith. This doctrine of movement shows us how important it is to take the long view of history and not to be too impressed (or frightened) by the emotion of the moment.

    As well as the above explanation, some say that not announcing Rosh Chodesh Tishri is in order to confuse the Adversary, who, if he/it does not know when Rosh HaShanah will be, cannot harm the Jewish people. This theory is well known but has its obvious drawbacks and defects.

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