This"Rosh Chodesh" falls on Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25 which also coincides with the end of Ramadan. And it comes right after the summer solstice which traditionally celebrates the Babylonian God, Tammuz.
Most of us in the west, did not grow up with a solstice tradition. Yet it is a very old middle eastern practice -certainly going back to the Sumerians - and possibly even to the bronze age. Both Jewish Arabic literary sources mention solstice up until the 10th or 11th century. In fact, there was supposedly a synagogue practice in place up until the 10th century.
What is especially interesting is that the Hebrew month is named for the Babylonian God Tammuz .
Called "the flawless youth" he was the young and beautiful masculine deity who was the consort of the goddess Inanna (as Dumuzi) and later the goddess Ishtar. After celebrating the "Sacred marriage"he was presumably sacrificed to guarantee the fertility of the earth.
There are many myths about Tammuz/Dumuzi the main one being that his body was cut into pieces to nourish the dry ground after the dry summer months. Another suggests that he went down into the dark underworld to rescue Inanna and was then held hostage there for half of the year in ransom for her.
What is documented is that for many hundreds of years women in the middle east had some form of weeping ritual to mourn the loss of the beautiful young male energy. The prophet Ezekiel comments negatively on the Jewish women lamenting the death of Tammuz at the gates of the temple. Beyond that we have very little description of the ritual.
It could be a metaphor on the end of the wheat crop, the loss of vibrant youth, and perhaps overall some way of coping with early male death. One of my teachers, Rabbi Michael Robinson, of blessed memory taught that we have not yet ended the practice of sacrificing young men in wars that were usually launched by old men in power. That remains true even now, as we send young men and women into harms way - pp
often for causes we cannot justify.
At this time of year I like to focus on blessing all of the young men whose beauty and vitality is so needed and yet often brought down to an early halt. It also the time of life when their effusive energy and strength can so easily go towards interests and addictions that are damaging to them and their families.
I think especially of all the young black men in jail, incarcerated for minor crimes that would not result in the same punishment for white guys.
Whoever you choose to bring to mind I hope that you will find some young person who would benefit from your blessing, your meditative energy, and your insights.
For lengthier exposition of Rabbi Leah's writings on Rosh Chodesh, please go to the publication section of this website for a chapter on new moon from her book "On the Wings of Shekhinah".
Or see her chapter in "celebrating the new moon" an anthology , Susan Berrin editor. "On Wings of Shekhinah" is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. Also Judaica shops; Including Afikomen in Berkeley. The book is also available directly from the publisher "Quest publications" which has a wonderful catalog.
Rabbi Leah: Kabbalah by the Sea