Believe it or not it is Rosh Chodesh!
The Maftir which is read this Shabbat “Hachodesh” comes from Shmot 12:1-20 and states in sentence 2:
“This month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year.”
The first commandment that B’nai Yisrael received as a nation was the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh.
Rashi brings the Mechilta which states that God showed Moshe the new moon and told him that each time the moon renews itself we will celebrate Rosh Chodesh.
The simple meaning of the text is taught in the Gemara, Masechet Shabbat 63a: The month that we know of today as Nisan will be the first month of the year, Iyar will be the second month, Sivan will be the third month etc.
Even though humans were created on Rosh HaShana, the first of Tishrei, the Torah starts counting the months from Nisan so that we are reminded of the Exodus from Egypt on a regular basis.
If it is so important to be reminded of the Exodus from Egypt, then why do we go by Nisan, Iyar, Sivan etc. today?
Ramban explains that the names of the months that are used today are Babylonian names which remind us that although we were exiled to Babylonia after the First Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, God redeemed us again and we were able to build the Second Beit HaMikdash.
Why is Rosh Chodesh so Important That it is Given as the First Mitzvah?
Without Rosh Chodesh there would be no calendar and without a calendar there wouldn’t be any other holidays.
Many of the Jewish holidays fall in the middle of the month. When we enter our Sukkot there is a full moon, when we begin our Pesach seder there is a full moon and in Jerusalem where we celebrate Purim on the 15th of Adar there is a full moon when we go out to hear the megilla. Thanks to the moon, it is very clear that we are celebrating these holidays at the proper time.
On Rosh Chodesh (as well as on Rosh HaShana), the moon is so small that we can’t even see it. It reminds us of the power of “Teshuva”, repentance and the fact that each month we have an opportunity to begin anew.
The month of Nisan is the month where we relive the Exodus. Why wait until Pesach? Let’s take this upcoming Rosh Chodesh and try to make it a little more spiritual and meaningful.
Rabbanit Sharona Margolin Halickman was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non-profit organization based in Jerusalem that provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds. Rabbanit Halickman is a member of Beit Hillel.
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