In the time of the Beit Hamikdash there were public offerings brought daily, on Shabbat, the New Moon, and on Festivals. The Rosh Chodesh( New Moon) sacrifice was unique, in that it comprised not only of “burnt offerings” similar to the daily and Shabbat offerings but included a “sin offering to Hashem”.[Pinchas, ch’ 28,verse 15.]
For what sin is the “sin offering” coming to atone? Rashi quotes the midrash – “The Holy One Blessed is He ,said,-‘ Bring an atonement for Me for My having reduced the size of the moon.” The gemarah Chullin 60a elaborates, that initially the sun and moon were created by Hashem equal in size,when the moon complained that ” Two kings cannot share one crown”, Hashem punished the moon – firstly,that it is less luminous than the sun and secondly, by subjecting it to phases ,during which it decreases and disappears.
If the moon’s contention that “Two kings can’t use the same crown”, is correct why did Hashem punish it?
Conversely, if the moon is mistaken, why does Hashem “require” an “atonement”?
In Pirkei Avot [chapter 2 mishnah 7], Hillel is quoted as saying “…the more (one gives) charity the more peace (and harmony) is increased”. The connection between charity and peace is explained by the midrash[Vayikra Rabbah 34] as follows.” The poor person complains and accuses: ‘Why do (I deserve) to be worse off than that fellow. Why does he have a home to sleep in and I don’t.’ When a person then gives charity, Hashem considers it as if the giver made peace between the poor man and Hashem.’
The midrash thus explains that in this world there are poor – those who are lacking and they “accuse” Hashem of creating a world which is “unfair” – of those who have and those who don’t. The entire creation is built in this way -as it says in Parshat Reeh [ch’ 15, verse 11.and Rambam Teshuvah ; 6.5.] “For the poor shall never cease out of the land…” Precisely, because there is a reality of ‘ those who have and those who don’t’ (and this applies to all areas, – intelligence,character traits, physical strength etc and not only to matters of wealth), can the world exist. The reality of ‘those who lack’ enables those ‘who have’ to give and to create. If we were all the same there would be no need and no ability to interact with one another.[Rav Dessler in Michtav M’Eliyahu explains that receiving can also entail giving.]
The passage in gemara Baba Batra 10a. ” Turanus Rufus the wicked asked Rabi Akiva: – ‘If your G-d is a lover of the poor, why does He not sustain them? Rabi Akiva replied G-d made people poor in order that through our giving them charity we may be saved from the judgement of Gehinom.”, is an expression of the above concept that there is a “need” for levels and gradations in this world.
Yet the poor man’s complaint persists – is this fair? “Why do I have to be the one who doesn’t have?’
So when a person gives and the poor receives, the lack and deficiency that exists in the world is corrected, “the pie is shared equitably” and peace is established between the ‘have nots” and their Creator.
In light of the above perhaps the notion of Hashem “requiring an atonement” is better understood – it is on account of the creation and existence of “inequalities” in this world.
When the final redemption comes, we are promised that despite the fact that there will still be “have’s and have not’s” – this will be a “relative lack” and not an absolute one, as is presently and as we say in the prayer of Kiddush Levanah”may the light of the moon be like the light of the sun and like the light of the seven days of creation, as it was before it was diminished…”