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Rochel and Rosh Chodesh

Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

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Rochel and Rosh Chodesh

Did you know that it was Rochel that instituted Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh? Let’s digress and explain this a bit more and also see how it is connected to the location of her burial place.


When the Jewish people lost their faith at Moshe’s apparent delay down the mountain, it was the women who remained faithful and refused to get involved in the golden calf.[1] Furthermore, while they willingly gave their jewelry to be used for the building of the Mishkan, when the men asked for their jewelry to create the golden calf, they remained faithful and refused to cooperate.[2] In the darkness that was the outcome of Moshe’s delay, it was the women who were faithful.


In acknowledgment of their faithfulness, women were rewarded with Rosh Chodesh which is a day that mirrors the concept that faith is rewarded with renewal. Women embody both the diminishment and the renewal and who can remain faithful even in the darkness.[3]


The Chida[4] writes that Rochel established the Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh.[5] This is alluded to in the opening words of the Mussaf Shemoneh Esrei of Rosh Chodesh:[6] ראשי חדשים לעמך where its initials spell רחל.[7]


Rochel’s burial place in Beis Lechem is on the route that the Jewish people would take on their way out to exile. Downtrodden and despondent, entering a tunnel of darkness, they would meet the burial place of Rochel and she would tell them the message of the moon, the message of the woman. True it is dark but remain faithful. I have been promised that out of the darkness will come light, “and the children (i.e. the Jewish people) will return to their borders.”[8]

[1] Pirkei D’rebbe Eliezer 44:4.

[2] Bamidbar Rabba 21:10.

[3] The moon (which is what women are compared to) remains faithful to the light of the sun in the darkness of night just as the Jew remains faithful to the light of Hashem through the darkness of exile. Woman, too, remains faithful to the spark of life within her through the long birth process. In fact, the word אם, mother, is related to אמונה, faithfulness.

[4] Midbar Kedaimos, Maareches Reish, 5.

[5] She instituted the Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh as she saw with Ruach Hakodesh that the women wouldn’t stumble in the sin of the golden calf.

[6] After the first three brachos which are in every Shemoneh Esrei.

[7] This is also indicated in the words that introduce this mitzvah in לכם ראש חדשים (Shemos 12:2), where its initials also spell רחל.

[8] See Yirmiya 31:14.

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