22- New Month New You

In this episode, Rabbi Lehrfield dives a little deeper into the Jewish calendar with a focus on the new month, Rosh Chodesh and its lessons of renewal. If you are interested in a Spirals in Time podcast, email Rabbi Lehrfield at mlehrfield@joidenver.com.

Transcript:

Hello friends. Welcome back to 0%. I'm your host. Menachem Lehrfield here on 0%. We try to explore world changing ideas introduced by Judaism. This season we've been exploring the fixed and growth mindsets. We spent the first part of our season looking at all of the different aspects and concepts within the growth mindset research and how we see them in Jewish thought. But then we took it one step further because I think the reason why the growth mindset research has had such a phenomenal impact on the Jewish people and has allowed us and caused us to become so successful in so many areas is not just because of the ideas that we learn and we teach. But more importantly, the way we live our lives in this way, it's not limited to something in a classroom, but rather it's a natural, organic, and whole holistic approach to life.

We started talking about the different life cycle events, how as Jews, we mark time and how as we mark time in those specific special moments in our lives, we are without even knowing it reinforcing the growth mindset. Now, I want to take it to the final step of this process. Understanding not just the life cycle events among individual Jewish people, but perhaps more importantly, the way we mark our time in the Jewish calendar, as we'll see in just a moment, time is an extremely important component to the Jewish people. And it's specifically the way in which we mark time that makes it so fundamental and so important as we go through the different holidays. It's important to have a basic framework of a Jewish holiday in general, and then we can get into the specifics of each holiday. I'm not gonna go into too much detail with our introduction to the holidays or to the holidays themselves.

Cause that's not really the topic of our conversation. What we're gonna try to do is explore where we see the growth mindset research throughout the different holidays. A Jewish holiday is somewhat different from the secular holidays that we're used to. Now, if we take Thanksgiving, for example, as a holiday, Thanksgiving is a commemoration. It remembers the fact that when the pilgrims came over to this new land and they were still so unsure about so many of the aspects of this new world, the native Americans welcome them in. And before we raped pillaged and killed them all stole their land. We had this wonderful feast and we remember that every year as we talk about and think about the early relationships between the native Americans and the pilgrims. And we eat some of the foods that we think that they ate in those original feasts after their first harvest.

And we have some traditions and customs that remind us of this time long ago, Jewish holidays are very different. They're not just a nostalgic commemoration of some thing that happened. In fact, a Jewish holiday is not even just a time to get together with family and to spend time with one another, a Jewish holiday is really something much, much deeper. Jewish mysticism teaches us that when God created the world, he created one year of time that is constantly cycling around itself. And along that cycle throughout that year, we have different spiritual pit stops along the way. And a holiday is an awareness that there is a spiritual energy that is most concentrated and available at the is time of year. That's not to say that I can't access it throughout the year, but when I get to a holiday, I arrive at this spiritual pit stop.

And because the spiritual energy of that holiday is most available. I have an easier time accessing it. It's kind of like a black Friday sale. This item might be available all year round, but now it's on sale. Now it's available for the taking if I want it. So when I take a holiday, let's say like Passover pay. It's not just remembering that 3,300 years ago, our ancestors left Egypt quite the opposite. The reason why we left Egypt at this time of year during the spring is because it's a time of freedom. So again, we don't market as a time of freedom because that's when we left Egypt, we left Egypt then because it's a time of freedom. We know it's a time freedom because that's when the Exodus happened, but the time is causative of the reality, not the other way around. So when pay off comes around and I'm sitting around my seder table with my family, my friends, my community, I'm not simply remembering something that happened to our ancestors 3000 years ago.

I am being charged right here right now to become free. I'm being told that there is an element of freedom. There is a spiritual reality called freedom. That is so potent right now. And as a result of that, I will have an easier time accessing freedom at this time of year than I will any other time of year. So now is a time as pay off, comes around for me to tap deep inside of the concept of freedom for me to ask myself, what is it that's holding me back. What is stopping me from accessing the deep potential that's inside?

And I can let go of all those shackles and I can become free. So it's not just remembering something from thousands of years ago. It's a call right here right now to tap into that spiritual reality, to tap into that spiritual essence. So when a Jewish holiday comes around every year, the same holiday comes around. So it's not just a circle. It's a cycle, it's a spiral. Hopefully every year as I reexperience that spiritual pit stop, I re experience that spiritual energy, accessing it and connecting to it on a higher level. And then next year at a higher level. And then the following year at a higher level. So that I'm constantly spiraling around that same circle of time, but every year on a higher level and a higher level, perhaps if there's interest and if there is, please let me know, you should have my email address, or you can go on the website and leave a comment.

If this is a topic that is interesting to you, let me know. And I would consider creating a new podcast called spirals in time, where we go through each holiday in more depth, understanding the spiritual energy, that spiritual pit stop and how to connect to it. What I wanna focus on in this current discussion and 0% is where we see the growth mindset research in those spiritual pit stops. So let's begin. Imagine if you will, you are God, don't let that get to your head too much. Just for the sake of this exercise. Eyes, imagine you're God and you are assembling what is about to become the Jewish people. And here are the people they haven't even left Egypt yet. They are on the verge of peoplehood and the almighty comes and gives them their very first commandment. What do you think that commandment should have been keep in mind then Judaism, when we say something is first, it doesn't mean it is first as opposed to second.

It doesn't mean one as opposed to two, rather something that is first is seminal. It is something that is the source of everything else that comes after it. There is something foundational and fundamental about the firsts, whether it's the first time we find a certain word or a concept, the first time something happens. So the very first mitzvah, the Jewish people are commanded. And the very first commandment that Jewish people are given as a people is important. What do you think that very first mitzvah was? If you asked me, I would think it should be something like, believe in trust in God, you know, be kind to one another, love your neighbor like yourself. Maybe the laws of kosher, the laws of Shabbat, but none of those were the very first mitzvah. The very first mitzvah, the Jewish people are commanded in as a people is the mitzvah of RO the mitzvah of sanctifying. The new month, the Torah says, ha RO reach this month shall be for you the first of the month of the year. And with this verse, the Jewish people are given their very first commandment. And that is the commandment to sanctify the new month. What that means a little bit of background is if I asked you, is the Jewish calendar, a lunar calendar or solar calendar? What we would you say?

It's a trick question. It is neither a solar nor a lunar calendar. It's actually, what's known as a loony solar calendar. The Jewish calendar begins as lunar calendar. That means it tracks the LUNs of the moon. It tracks the psych of the moon, waxing and waning, but it's not strictly a lunar calendar in a lunar calendar. The seasons are completely arbitrary and truth is the years are completely arbitrary in a lunar calendar. There are only months. That's why if you have a culture that uses a truly lunar calendar like the Muslims do, their days will fall out all different seasons throughout the year. Ramadan can be in the summer one year, it could be in the winter another year, Jewish holidays. On the other hand, we're told need to be in specific seasons at specific times. A lot of that has to do with what we talked about in the introduction that if the holiday is really all about being made aware of a spiritual energy, that exists at a specific time of year.

So then as I'm looking at the natural phenomena, as we see them throughout the natural cycle of the year in specific seasons, that connects to the essence of the holiday and the essence of what is going on at that time of year. So for example, we talked about pace, a Passover. It's a time of freedom. It's not enough just to think of freedom. I need to actually see things that were once seemed dormant and dead coming alive, coming back to life. That's the idea of freedom I see in the world around me. And when I see that happening in the natural world, it reminds me that I need to tap into this energy of freedom, this energy of becoming free, just like the buds and the trees all around me. So because of that, we can't have a strict lunar calendar because then our seasons will not coincide with the right holidays.

So what we do is we add an extra month of ADA. This year is actually going to be a Jewish leap year. And when we add that extra month, it pushes the cycle forward so that the holidays coincide with the right time of year. So we start off with a lunar calendar, and then we add in elements of the solar calendar to make sure everything fits in properly. This process is known as IOR. Hashan making a Jewish leap year, literally means impregnating the year. If we do end up doing the spirals in time as a standalone podcast, we can get into a lot of this in more depth, but on a very surface level, understanding the very first commandment that Jewish people are given is to sanctify the new month. What that means is nowadays we have a calendar system, everything is set, but in biblical times, the process of establishing the new month involved witness is seeing the new moon.

And when they saw the new moon, they would go to the court. They would testify that they saw the new moon. They would cross examine the witnesses to make sure they were telling the truth based on the system that we now use for our calendar. So they kind of knew whether or not what the witnesses were saying, made sense based on their calculation of the calendar. But the point is that the people were given the ability to control time, so to speak because what day they established the new month Roche Hodes, they knew it was gonna either be 29 or 30 days, but which day, the month begins will determine which day of the month, the different hollow holidays fall out. And those are very significant and important. So essentially the witnesses that were coming to the court and the court that was establishing the new month were responsible for controlling time, to the extent that they had the ability to determine what day was going to be yo Kippur or Sue coat, or pay Passover.

They would determine which day the different holidays would come. And this was the very first myth for the Jewish people are given. And it's the very first holiday, the Jewish people celebrate. And we celebrate this mini holiday every single month, every single month at the beginning of the lunar cycle, the beginning of the lunar new month, we celebrate a holiday known as Roche Hodes. And that mini holiday is connected to this ancient ritual. This mitzvah of being machad the Hodes sanctifying the new month. Now, why was that so important? Why was sanctifying the new month? Such a crucial Mitzva that it is the very first mitzvah the Jewish people are ever given this mitzvah Khadish of sanctifying. The new month requires us to constantly look up at the sky and see the moon and learn from its cycles. Just as we said, when the spring comes and I see the blossoms all around me, reminds me, Hey, wait a second.

The trees are going through this process of rebirth and renewal and rejuvenation. Have I gone through that process myself? The same is true with the new month. Every time I see the moon waxing and waning, it reminds me that I need to go through that process myself. As I see the new moon, I'm watching a celestial body renew itself, or at least from our perspective on earth, it seems to renew itself. And that reminds me, I need to go through that process of re new as well. In episode 13, we talked about the idea that when God comes to Abraham to destroy the city of CEDO and the two of them begin arguing. So to speak, Abraham says, this is opening argument, a Noki offer for a, for, I am dust and Ash. And we pointed out Abraham wasn't being hung humble. He wasn't saying to God, although I'm, but dust and Ash, listen to me anyway.

He was saying exactly the opposite. He was saying, I know the afer. I am dust and Ash dust. Soil is something that is life giving. Ash is the byproduct of something that once was Abraham says of the almighty. The reason why you should listen to me is because every single day of my life, every moment I take everything that I was up until this point, and I Ash it down into the bare elements. And I start the process of building myself up. Once again, that means I don't live today because I lived yesterday. I don't just go on autopilot, go with the flow. Every single moment. I'm constantly reassessing every aspect of my life. That is what RO hoish is all about. RO hoish is a constant reassessment of who I am and where I'm going RO hoish and living with this mentality that our forefather, Abraham imbued and bequeath to us is all about living with the most fundamental growth mindset principle.

And that is constantly reassessing, constantly being willing to change up our strategy just because this is what I've done. My whole life doesn't mean this is what I need to do right now. If it's not working, I need to change things up. I need to change. I need to try something new. And only with that sense of newness, can I accomplish something incredible? Certainly effort is important. And without putting an effort, we will never accomplish anything or fulfill our potential, but it's not the only thing in order to succeed, we need to constantly be willing to try new strategies. We need to be willing to seek input from others. We need to be willing to look at what it is that we've tried and what we can try next. It's about living a life, being willing to reassess and try new strategies. It's about living a life with the awareness that every single moment of time, every moment I'm given is precious. Like the line Steve jobs saw when he was 17, that changed his life live every day as if your last, because one day you'll certainly be right.