Leann Shamash
Author of the blog Words Have Wings

The Half Moon

Image by Albert Lew. Posted here with permission of the photographer.
Image: The Blue Waxing Moon. Image by Albert Lew. Posted with the permission of the photographer.
The combined parshiyot of Nitzavim and Vayelech bring us almost to the close of the yearly cycle of Torah. In brief, these unforgettable chapters include all of us in the text. We are all present as Moses tells the Hebrews and the many generations that follow that we all have choices in life. Sometimes those choices are very complex, but as the text says, they are not in the sky, nor on the other side of the sea, but close to us, accessible to all.

Over the next few weeks we will be asked and we will ask ourselves hard questions. Who are we? Have we done what we can and more? What do we have to work on? Can we be proud of our actions and interactions? Are there ways we can improve ourselves, our community, our world and even our relationship to God? These are not easy questions to consider and sometimes it is easier to push them aside. What genius there is to provide a time to ponder actions and how we can improve ourselves. Such is the beauty of Judaism. It invites us to ask hard questions and to try to find answers.

Last week there was a blue moon which graced the evening sky. People all over the world flocked to catch a glimpse at this relatively rare sight and it did not disappoint. Social media was crowded with images of this queen of all moons. A few days later, as my husband and I returned home late in the evening , we caught a glimpse at a half moon suspended in the nighttime sky. It occurred to me that so many look to the sky at the full moon in all of its glory and at the new moon at its most spare, but what about the half moon? Is anyone looking at her? Who is she?

And so this poem was born, not so unlike the finding of the new moon.

The Half Moon

The half moon hangs low in the Elul sky.

She is

not quite empty


not quite full;

falling somewhere

at the intersection

of perfect

and imperfect.

She is not as




with drama

as the full moon,

who without embarrassment

monopolizes the early evening sky,

causing waves on the earth below,


the half moon hovers,

suspended in mid air,

as though searching for what will make her



There is no drama in the half moon.

She is not shrouded in mystery as the new moon.

No one searches for the half moon among the

mountain tops.

No one cries from peak to peak

proclaiming the new month

when the half moon rises in the night sky.

The half moon is not as exotic as the crescent moon

who is all points, angles and glamour.

She is simply


an authentic half moon;

making the most of who she is;

shining as brightly as a half moon can



* *

And so it is

with mere mortals

who live so far below the half moon above.


At some points in our lives,

we are full moons,

during our given

moments and days,

hours, weeks and years.

We shine brilliantly,

illuminating those around us.


At other times we are new moons,



hiding until we are discovered,


ushering in

new beginnings

and the potential of what lies ahead.


most of the time

we are half moons,

knowing that we are not perfect,

not filled with drama,

but neither are we filled with regrets,

for regrets,

as the half moon knows,

only detract from the light that she

seeks to shine.


we just keep on being the very best

half moons that we can be.

Shine on half moon.

About the Author
After a career in Jewish education, Leann Shamash is the author of the blog Words Have Wings, which addresses the parsha of the week through poetry.
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