Among the top scientific discoveries of the last decade was the amazing fact – proved once and for all – that the moon is not a dry desert as we always thought. The moon is wet! It is one more fascinating thing about a heavenly body that is endlessly intriguing to us.
Yet, in this week’s Torah reading – which anchors the Jewish calendar to the moon – we learn that Moses was troubled by it, not fascinated. Why?
The mystics explain that Moses was struggling with some of the fundamental dilemmas of existence as they are reflected in the birth of the new moon – in particular, how to deal with pain and loss. Moses understood that the waxing and waning moon reflects the ups and downs of life and history. But Moses was disturbed because he knew that this powerful symbol of death and rebirth was not enough. Moses in effect was saying: “If You, G-d, want man to grow through the dark challenges, You must give us the power of hope – the strength to forge ahead despite the inability to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
G-d agreed. In response, G-d showed Moses something that is otherwise impossible to see – the birthing itself. The point when the darkness turns into light, the exact moment when the seeds of suffering yield the fruits of greatness.
A moving story of a young boy’s hope during the Holocaust, as well as an inspiring story of a paralyzed Israeli poet, illuminate for us what Moses was able to see.
Birth means something new. Therefore, we can never see the exact moment when the old becomes new. But Moses did see – once for all times. And we can draw enormous strength from his vision as this sermon explains.