The People of the Moon

Question

Hi Rabbi, I know that we get light from the moon at night by its reflecting the sun’s light, but is there any special message we learn from the moon’s existence? What I mean is that I assume we could manage without it. Thanks.

, 1 year

Answers

  1. Very interesting! I respectfully disagree with your suggestion that we could manage without the moon. Although we are accustomed nowadays to having light everywhere, day and night, I personally lived in Israel during the Yom Kippur War with total blackout from sunset to sunrise. Absolute darkness when the moon waned. Without the moon there would be absolute darkness every night of the year!

    And you ask what “message” we can learn from the moon’s existence?

    The Talmud points out an apparent contradiction in this week’s Torah portion. One verse says “And God made two great luminaries.” The verse continues, “the greater luminary to dominate the day, and the lesser luminary to dominate the night.” The verse starts with two great luminaries and then says that only one is great.

    What happened?

    The answer is a story that is literally out of this world! At the dawn of Creation, God created the sun and moon of equal size and brightness. The moon then said to God: “Master of the World, is it possible for two kings to use one crown?”

    God said, “Go and diminish yourself.” (Tractate Chullin 60b)

    The Jewish People are compared to the moon. Every month the moon gets smaller and smaller until it disappears completely. And then it is renewed.

    The Jewish People have seen times in their history when they seem to have vanished completely, and then — miraculously — we are renewed.

    This power of renewal is intrinsic to the Jewish People. For that reason, we count by a lunar calendar.

    We are not the largest of all the nations. In fact, the Torah calls us the smallest. We are, so to speak, “the People of the moon”. The moon has no light of its own. It is a reflector. And like the moon, the purpose of the Jewish People is to be a reflector — the reflector in this world of its Creator.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team