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Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rebbetzin Shira Smiles
The first mitzva in the Torah given to the Jewish people as a nation was Kiddush Hachodesh. Why this particular mitzva? The Seforno explains that slaves have no clear concept of time because their time is not their own. In halacha, a slave is not obligated in time related mitzvot because he lacks time consciousness. Sanctification of time and freedom are bound together. Only free men, who can fill their time with spirituality, can understand its essence. Therefore, to mark the Jewish people’s emergence as a liberated nation, they were given the mitzva of Kiddush Hachodesh.
Creation exists in the dimension of time. It continually evolves and reshapes itself. However, only man can sense the passage of time and appreciate its beauty and significance. There are three dimensions of time: retrospection, anticipation, and appreciation. Retrospection is when the past becomes the present. One can relive and retell an experience long gone as if it is happening at the moment. Anticipation is man’s projection of visions and aspirations into the future. This takes us beyond the present and moves us forward into a future vision. Appreciation embraces the present as inherently worthy.
These three aspects come to the fore on the Seder night. The first part of the Hagada focuses on retrospection. We are commanded to see ourselves as if we are leaving Egypt. Hallel is a song of appreciation, in which we rejoice in the present moment. The Seder culminates with anticipation of the future redemption and the hope of returning to our land.
The second aspect of Kiddush Hachodesh is that we have the ability to rejuvenate and renew ourselves, like the moon. Its waxing and waning reflects a dimension within us. Just as we sanctify the moon, we must sanctify ourselves. The Sefat Emet notes that the beauty of Judaism is that no thirty days can go by without rejuvenation. Kiddush Hachodesh is our monthly reminder, prompting us to ask ourselves, “Where are we? What have we done to transform our lives? How have we become different?” It is the power of change and reflection. Rav Wolfson notes that every month is numbered in relation to Nisan, the first month, whose definition is chidush, renewal. Kiddush Hachodesh, as the first mitzva, teaches us that the foundation of all mitzvot is performing good deeds with hitchadshut. Our challenge is to take every mitzva and attach it to the first mitzva, which commands us to grow, change, and re-energize our lives.
Rav Tatz asks, Hashem took us out in haste because we were almost at the fiftieth level of impurity. However, we find that at the culmination of the exile, the Jews were busy with mitzvot such as brit milah and korban Pesach. How can we say that they were at such a low level? The Maharal explains that spirituality is contradicted by unnecessary expansion of physical dimension in time and space. If one moves fast one can overcome its stifling affects. Therefore, Chazal say, “Zrizim makdimim l’mitzvot.” One should perform mitzvot with alacrity. Otherwise, physical concerns will present themselves to prevent a person from fulfilling the good deed. The problem with more time in Egypt was not the effects of impurity. It was time itself. At the moment of conception, the Jewish nation had to rise above nature. The redemption had to be in the blink of an eye so that no physical forces would overpower them.
The definition of a Jew is Kiddush Hachodesh. It is a mitzva that taps into the dimension of time and creates newness. The way to create vibrancy is not to get caught in the sluggishness of the moment but to grab the opportunity. Similarly, the difference between chametz and matza is a difference of time. When chametz is left out for a long time, it will spoil or get moldy. Matza, in contrast, has staying power. When we allow the dimension of time to take effect, we invite the limited forces of nature into our lives. Judaism encourages us to use our time. A difference of a few minutes can alter the status of the same action. If one studies Jewish law, one becomes sensitive to a time-conscious relationship with Hashem.
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In this week’s parshah Bilam decides to approach Balak with the intention of cursing the Bnei Yisrael. En route his donkey refused to continue on the path, continuing to veer to the side of the road. At one point the donkey smashed Bilam’s leg into the wall. Bilam hit his donkey three different times. The reason that his donkey would not proceed is because it saw that there was a malach standing in the road with his sword drawn.
The GPS had not been invented when Shelly set off on a Friday afternoon many years ago to join the Bnei Akiva camp in the English countryside. The organizers always managed to find a farmer who welcomed young campers under adult supervision; thus they set up their tents and during the week took the opportunity to learn the halachot of building an eruv. There would be no problems on Shabbat and they would be able to carry within the campsite.
One of the most complex Tanach personalities is the central figure of this week’s Haftorah: Yiftach, the Shofet, Judge.
“I saw an advertisement for group swimming lessons during the summer,” Mr. Leiner said to his wife. “I think it would be good for our Pinchas.”
She is my first child to reach this stage and, frankly, I’m worried.
Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin
‘Transgressing Bal Tigra’
Question: As Shavuot is fast approaching – a holiday on which we dwell on the story of Ruth and the origins of the royal house of David – I was wondering if you could help me resolve something. The Mishnah never makes any mention of the Hasmonean kings, the mitzvah to light a Chanukah menorah, or the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days. Some people say that Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi – the redactor of the six orders of the Mishnah and a scion of King David – omitted these topics because the Hasmoneans improperly crowned themselves, ignoring the rule that all Jewish kings are supposed to come from the tribe of Yehudah. They argue that this is also why the Talmud does not include a separate tractate on Chanukah. Is this true?
In this week’s parshah the Torah discusses many halachos of tumah. One halacha is that a person who is tamei may not enter the Mikdash. Doing so makes him liable for kareis.
The highway was packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic, and there I sat with hands gripped tightly on the steering wheel, begging the cars to move. My heart swelled at the thought of seeing my son, who was just coming back from his year of learning in Eretz Yisrael. How I had missed him! Though I was used to him being away (if you can ever really get used to a child being away), a special space in my heart was empty – as I waited for him.
No one lives in a vacuum. No, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get sucked up through a vacuum cleaner hose in the pre-Pesach cleaning frenzy, it means that whether we like it or not, our environment—the people and things around us—makes a big impact on who we are.
According to biblical law, once an area has been converted in to a reshut hayachid by enclosing it with a halachically acceptable eruv, one may carry inside the enclosed area. But according to rabbinical law, it is simply not enough to enclose an area in which one wants to carry with an eruv. This alone will not permit carrying from the home into the street or vice versa. Neither will it alone permit carrying from a condominium apartment into the lobby or other common areas.
Yidsville had a small but dedicated Jewish community. There was one Orthodox synagogue, led by Rabbi Well, a day school, women’s mikveh, kosher butcher shop, pizza store and restaurants.
In this week’s parshah the Torah tells us that Hashem told Aharon to redeem every firstborn child. This is known as pidyon haben. The Rema, in Yoreh De’ah 305:10, rules in the name of the Rivash that one may not appoint a shaliach to perform pidyon haben. Many Acharonim argue with this ruling and posit that one can appoint a shaliach to perform pidyon haben.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshat-bo-creation-of-self/2013/01/15/
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