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Parashat Vaykhel-Pekudei-Hahodesh – Opportunity for Renewal


This being the Shabbat that falls on before the first of Nissan, we read an additional portion, the section of Hachodesh (Exodus 12:1-20), which relates G‑d’s words to Moses in Egypt two weeks before the Exodus, instructing us to set the Jewish Calendar by the monthly new mood, and to regard Nissan as the “head of months.”

“Parshat Hachodesh” is in a sense, the starting point of the Torah. As Rashi writes in the first paragraph of his commentary on the Torah: “There was no need to start the Torah only from Hahodesh Haze Lachem,” which is the first commandment given to Israel” – the mitzvah of sanctifying the moon.

And here comes the question: Why is this the first commandment in the Torah? Was it not right to present the commandments in their order of importance, with the first commandment being “I am your G’d your lord” the basis of all faith; Or at least in their order of existence, with the first commandment being the circumcision, which it fulfills at the beginning of life?

Why do we start with this mitzvah of sanctifying the new month  “Hahodesh”?

The worst thing that can happen in life is getting into a routine, making life a routine where today is like yesterday and yesterday is like tomorrow. Lives that become routine lose their sparkle and enthusiasm, deteriorating into a slippery slope of fatigue and burnout.

And that is exactly the reason for the importance of this Mitzvah “Hachodesh”. 

The Torah is commanded to determine the starting point of time according to the resurrection of the moon. “Month” – in  Hebrew  “Hodesh” comes from the word “Hidush” “renewal.” The Jewish month is in sync with the moment of the resurgence of the moon, after it is small and disappears and again renews and emerges.

Well, the first message the Torah chooses to convey to the Jew is: “This month Is for you!” – It’s a call that says: Renew, never get used to. Do not transform your spiritual life into self-reliant on an automatic mechanism. A Jew must diversify his spiritual life and bring in them an element of surprise and change.

This insight is also the secret of a happy marriage and the recipe for success in family life. Always keep renewing, don’t let your relationship become automatic, dry and mechanical. 

We are living in a unique time, which we do not fully understand nor do we have the answers and clarity to explain the reason for what’s going on. But let’s embrace this element that this health crisis has brought into our lives. No more automatic routines, every day is a new day with opportunities and challenges, surprises and disappointments, blessings and adversaries, reveling in us the opportunity to develop genuine and authentic relationships with G’d,  with our spouses, family and with life.

Shabat Shalom 

Rabbi Mendy