On the last Shabbat of each Jewish month, we recite a blessing called Birkat HaChodesh over the new month ahead. The blessing is based on the words that Rav, an early Talmudic rabbi, used to say at the end of his Amidah (Berachot 16b):
May it be Your will,
Adonai our God and God of our ancestors,
to reawaken in us joy and blessing in the month ahead.
Grant us a long life,
a peaceful life with goodness and blessing,
sustenance and physical vitality;
a life free from shame and reproach,
a life of abundance and honor,
a reverent life guided by the love of Torah;
a life in which our worthy aspirations will be fulfilled.
This prayer gives us a moment to reflect on the month that has passed and on the month that is about to begin. It gives us a chance to check in with ourselves and to ask whether or not we are living our values. If we are not, we can use the new month to shift our course, to get back on track, and we can ask God for the strength and the courage to help us be more true to ourselves. In a sense, Birkat HaChodesh gives us a mini-Rosh Hashanah opportunity to do teshuvah, and to strive to do better in the next month.
It is especially poignant to consider the words of Birkat HaChodesh as we begin this new year of 2020. What do we hope to accomplish? How do we seek to live? How will we embrace our values? As we begin a new secular year and as we have just begun a new Jewish month, I invite you to reflect on Rav’s words and to add your own prayers and wishes to Birkat HaChodesh.
Wishing you many blessings in 2020