Tomorrow is an historical day. We ought to stop all that
we are doing and just give thanks for the merit of participating
in a once-in-a-28-year experience: The suns return to its
Much has been written about this year’s celebration
of the 28-year sun cycle. This infrequent event is even
rarer when it falls out, as it does this year, on Erev Pesach,
the day before Passover.
Is there a connection between the two? One could argue
that Passover is specifically related to the moon, not the
sun. When G-d first informed Moses that the Jewish people,
after their long 210-year exile, will leave Egypt, He did
so with the sign of the new moon: “This month shall
be to you the head of the months; it shall be the first
month of the year.” For the Jewish Exodus took place
on the full moon of this month, the fifteenth day of the
month of redemption. In fact, the entire Hebrew calendar
and all the Jewish holidays are regulated by the lunar cycle.
Yet, all moonlight is dependent on the sun. Were there
no sun, the moon would be a dark body without any light
to reflect to earth. Indeed, just as the moon depends on
the sun for its light, the redemption from Egypt (connected
to the moon) was led by Moses, who is compared to the sun
(“the face of Moses is like the face of the sun”).
Why then did G-d show Moses the new moon and not the sun?
And why do we reenact that demonstration by blessing the
new moon each month, and the sun only once in 28 years?
The answer provides us with an invaluable lesson in life
– and captures the essence of Passover: Reflective
light (moon) is more powerful than emanating light (sun).
The receiver is greater than the giver; the act of receiving
more powerful than the act of giving. Though moonlight is
nothing more than a reflection of the sun, its ability to
receive, absorb, retain and reflect the sun’s light
to earth adds a completely new dimension – qualitatively
superior – to sunlight itself!
How is that possible? you may wonder. How can the cause
be weaker than its effect; the source lesser than its beneficiary?
Yet, we see it all around us. What is more powerful: Sound
or silence? Aggression or subtlety? Speaking or listening?
Transmitting or receiving? Extracting or emerging? Imposition
or resonance? The sizzle or the steak? The visible or the
Intimacy is always about letting go. By freeing ourselves
of our outer trappings, the juices from within begin to
flow. Still waters run deep. The “majesty of the princess
Which explains why the Talmudic sage attributed his greatest
wisdom to his students. “I have learned much from
my teachers; even more from my friends; but above all, from
my students.” The depth of wisdom that reflects back
from students (the moon) is far more profound than the wisdom
emanating from teachers (the sun).
The sun’s light is far more brilliant than the moons will
ever be. But it is only as powerful as the sun itself can
be. The moon, despite its lack of independent light, or
rather, precisely because of it, accesses a deeper, more
intimate place, which can only be reached when one’s identity
The moon therefore emanates with its own unique haunting
aura. That silver-white, enigmatic glow which evokes in
us mystery and intrigue. Have you ever seen people in love
staring at the sun (even with shades)? We do see them staring
at the moon…
Moonlight is the secret of bittul; the ability to
suspend your own space and allow room for a presence beyond
and greater than yourself. Through utter dedication to a
cause greater than yourself, and allowing that presence
to channel through you, you become an extension of that
greatness; you become greater than yourself.
A child once asked his pregnant mother: How do you have
room inside of you for another life? Men barely have room
for someone outside of themselves. Let alone inside.
The feminine malchut (the moon) is “empty” of its
own ego and personality, and thus allows in another. The
Kotzker Rebbe as a child was once asked “Where is G-d?”
To which he replied: “Where ever you let Him in.”
Our calendar is thus regulated by the lunar cycles. We
count by and are compared to the humble moon. But once every
28 years we are reminded to recognize the source from whence
the moon receives its light. Ultimately, our objective is,
in the words of the mystics, the intimate union between
sun and moon (yichud shimsha v’sihara).
We need to know that Moses the sun leads us out of all
constraints (mitzrayim), but to access this power
requires us to be humble like the moon.
You can say that Passover is the marriage between sun and
moon, the solar voice speaking to us through the lunar module:
The all-powerful, giver of light, communicating through
a humble interface, the reflective, absorbing moon.
As we rise to this historical day and bless the sun, and
then enter Passover to the full moon, let us ponder on these
two heavenly luminaries. They stand witness to our long
history – both in joy and in pain. These same two
celestial bodies looked down on all that transpired over
the millennia. These same two balls in the sky were looked
up at by our parents, grandparents and ancestors all the
way to the beginning time. How much anger and hope did the
sun and moon evoke in people’s hearts?
And now, we look up at them through our myopic eyes. Can
we see their message? Can we align ourselves to their original
And above all: Can we learn from them the balance of give
and take, transmission and reception, fusing the solar and
the lunar in one glorious union, knowing always that the
power to reflect is greater than the power to emanate.
With all our powerful tools and resources – formidable
minds, aggressive conquests, innovative technologies and
complex structures – Passover is a time to access
our most powerful resource of all: Our ability to step back
and soak in forces beyond our own. A time to quietly take
in new realities and greater possibilities.