On this Shabbos, Shabbos Parshas Ha’Chodesh, we bentch the new month of Nissan — referred to in the Torah as Chodesh Ha’Aviv, the month of spring. Rosh Chodesh falls on Yom Shlishi (Tuesday), heralding the start of a new lunar year and commemorating the inception of the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh.
“HaChodesh hazeh lachem rosh chadashim” – this month is for you the head of all months (Shemos 12:2). Thus did Hashem command Moshe and Aharon to observe Nissan as the first of the twelve lunar months, thereafter instructing Moshe Rabbeinu in how to ascertain the onset of a new month and, accordingly, its sanctification (Kiddush HaChodesh), by the light of the moon.
Moshe Rabbeinu was indisputably the quintessential leader and teacher of all time and at the forefront of the events that shaped the future of our nation. Still, as the Talmud authenticates, it was the virtuous women behind the scenes that made Bnei Yisrael worthy of rescue and redemption.
Six-year-old Miriam prevailed upon her parents, Amram and Yocheved, to reunite after they had divorced following Pharaoh’s decree to toss all newborn male infants into the sea. The sagacious youngster reasoned that their act – subsequently emulated by all other Jewish households – would forestall the birth of both male and female souls, depriving them of both this world and the next, while any children who would lose their lives as a result of Pharaoh’s ruling would merit Olam Haba. Moreover, contended Miriam, Hashem was more than capable of disrupting the Egyptian ruler’s evil intent.
At that point the older sister of Aharon (Moshe was yet to be born) was gifted with Ruach Hakodesh and prophesied that her parents would give birth to a baby boy who would be instrumental in easing the plight of the Jews at the hands of their Egyptian taskmasters.
The saying in Mishlei, “Chochmas nashim bansa beisah” – the wisdom of a wife can save a household – is attributed to Yocheved, the mother of three righteous individuals and prophets – Aharon, Moshe, and Miriam – each of whom played a major role in edifying the Jewish nation.
Water surged in abundance in the dry desert in Miriam’s merit; the Annanei HaKavod that safeguarded the Jews from harm in the wilderness is accredited to Aharon, the consummate peacemaker; and it was by way of Moshe Rabbeinu’s virtuousness that Bnei Yisrael were nourished by the manna that fell from the heavens.
It can be truly said that Basya went the extra mile (with some assistance from the Almighty) to save Moshe from her father’s evil mandate. Afflicted with tzora’as, Basya approached the river’s edge intending to immerse herself in the cool waters and soothe her burning skin lesions. Her arm was miraculously elongated as she reached for the basket that contained the 3-month old Moshe — who Basya discovered was voicelessly shedding tears.
Her heart stirred for the little one she believed was too weak from hunger to cry out loud. No sooner did she touch the basket than her skin magically healed. Basya instantly sensed the uniqueness of this Jewish child and called him her own.
The name Basya literally denotes “daughter of God.” Said Hashem: “Moshe was not your son and yet you called him your son. You are not my daughter (one of my nation) yet I will call you Basya – my daughter.”
Among the elite and righteous souls whose yahrtzeits are observed during the month of Nissan: Miriam HaNeviah (10 Nissan); the Shelah HaKadosh and the Ramban (11 Nissan); the Bais Yosef – R’ Yosef Karo, and the Tzemach Tzedek – 3rd Lubavitcher Rebbe (13 Nissan); Yitzchak Avinu and Yehuda ben Yaakov Avinu (15 Nissan); Levi ben Yaakov Avinu (16 Nissan); R’ Itzikel of Skver – 7th son of R’ Mordechai of Chernobyl (17 Nissan); the Divrei Chaim m’Sanz (25 Nissan); R’ Chaim Vital and R’ Yakov Amdin – son of the Chacham Zvi (30 Nissan).
Of all the significant events recorded as having transpired on Leil Pesach throughout the generations, one of the most far-reaching involved the night Yitzchak asked his eldest son Eisav to bring him good food as befits the auspicious time. When Eisav tarried in carrying out his mission, his brother Yaakov, inspired by his mother Rivka to take advantage of the propitious occasion, brought two kid-goats to his father — one as a Korban Pesach offering, the other as food for Yitzchak… and we are all familiar with the ultimate outcome.
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