Kiddush HaChodesh by Simcha Shron


In Parashat Bo, we read of Aharon’s and Moshe’s receiving the information from Hashem that “HaChodesh HaZeh Lachem Rosh Chodashim; Rishon Hu Lachem LeChodshei HaShanah,” "This month is for you the head of months, the first of the months of the year it will be for you" (Shemot 12:2).

Rashi’s first comment on the entire Torah (BeReishit 1:1 s.v. BeReishit) deals with this Pasuk. Rashi comments that this verse contains the first command to Bnei Yisrael; therefore, it is the logical place for the Torah to have begun. Although Sefer BeReishit does not teach us many Mitzvot, it obviously contains many lessons which are important to Judaism. Therefore, why does Rashi suggest that it would have been logical for the Torah to begin with the Mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh?

Perhaps we can draw a metaphor from the business world to answer our question: Imagine you are called to a meeting to discuss a great investment opportunity that comes around once in a lifetime. You arrive dutifully on time. The president of the board of directors launches into an endless historical diatribe about how the company came to be and how it has developed over time.

After a while, you begin to wonder if you entered the correct meeting. After what seems like an eternity, your ears perk up and your pencil is poised to jot down the endless words. The present has finally arrived. At a furious pace, information about high yield investment possibilities is outlined in great detail. The meeting has finally made some headway.

In his first commentary on the Torah, Rashi explains that the creation of the world had to be chronicled in case any future generations should ask why the Jews deserve to inherit Israel. Our response to such challenges is that “LaShem HaAretz UMelo’ah,” "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness therein” (Tehillim 24:1). As such, Hashem can distribute His land as He seeks; therefore, Bnei Yisrael, Hashem’s chosen nation, has every right to Eretz Yisrael.

Just like the ones gathered at the investor's meeting, we are mostly interested in the dimension of the creation that applies right now. This is evident in the Berachah which we say daily in Tefillah, “HaMechadeish BeTuvo BeChol Yom Tamid Ma’asei BeReishit,” "The One Who through His kindliness renews constantly the act of creation." Our ability to continue building upward is based on our historical foundation. However, that is not the prime focus of Torah. The Torah’s prime focus is to delineate how we should function in regard to the creations that are presently being created and how we should relate to Hashem, who orchestrates this creation in every moment.

This idea is manifested in many daily blessings. For example, before eating a fruit we recite the blessing, "Borei Peri HaEitz,” “Who creates the fruit of the tree." This Berachah is in the present tense, not the past tense. We are not relating to the fruit as a distant relative of the original and ancient fruit designed for Adam's inauguration in the Garden of Eden but rather as one being willed into existence by The Creator at each present moment.

Similarly, when we look at a computer screen and see what seems to be a still photo, we understand well that the light that is making up the picture is constantly powered by power from the electricity in the wires. If the plug would be pulled momentarily, the screen would go blank. So too, the physical world appears constantly, and only through the kindness of Hashem do we find ourselves staying in this world.

It is due to the importance of this ability to recognize the constant newness of time that Rashi posited that the Pasuk in our Parashah, Shemot 12:2, should be the first Pasuk in the Torah. This ability is that first step that preempted Bnei Yisrael’s fresh outlook on every single new second, that forced them to turn away from past cruelties that they had endured, and led to the eventual Ge’ulah from Egypt.

Zeh Keili VeAnveihu by Rabbi Nosson Rich

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