Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

With the fourth of four special parshiyot preceding Pesach, we are traversing very rapidly the season of the inauguration of redemption that began with Purim. Parshat HaChodesh anticipates the emergence of Israel as a nation, with our own practices and our own calendar. The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah teaches that there are four New Years: One for the trees (15 Shevat), one for human beings on the birthday of Adam (1 Tishrei), one for tithing animals (1 Elul), and one this Shabbat, the first of Nissan, for kings and festivals, the new year for the Jewish people.

Our haftara is exceedingly difficult to understand. So much so that the Gemara in Menachot (45a) teaches that Eliyahu will explain it in the future. R’ Yose, however, offers an explanation. The primary challenge posed by the haftara is that it describes a series of offerings, meant to mark all of the holidays on the calendar, and that the described offerings are inconsistent with the services as delineated by Moshe in the Chumash.


Also somewhat mysterious is the character of the “nasi,” or leader, who seems to be standing in for the Kohen Gadol. In fact, in his commentary, Rashi teaches that he believes the designation is meant to refer here to the Kohen Gadol, although he has also heard it could refer to the king.

The Gemara explains the discrepancy in the offerings in a beautiful way, to the effect that Israel will bring what they have available and Hashem will accept it. Thus, if the Chumash describes two of something and the navi only lists one, we learn that if poverty of circumstances prohibits us from bringing the full allotment, our offering will still be acceptable in its reduced form. R’ Yose explains that Moshe is describing the service of the Mishkan and the First Beit HaMikdash but that Yechezkel was anticipating the special offerings brought during the dedication of the Second Beit HaMikdash by Ezra and his congregation, which match the description given in our haftara.

The Malbim teaches, following R’ Yose, that in actuality the navi has encoded all of the special festive offerings meant to accompany the dedication of each sanctuary. He explains that each of the dedications increases by a factor of one until, during the dedication of the Third Beit HaMikdash, the number of sacrifices and the time over which they are brought is quadruple that of the dedication of the Mishkan.

The Malbim shows how this brings us to a total of 190 days of dedication offerings, the numerical value of “ketz,” the conclusion of the process of redemption, and exactly the number of days from the beginning of Pesach until Simchat Torah. In his reading, the purification of the mizbeach and the sanctuary spans 30 days from Ta’anit Esther until the eve of Pesach. The Third Beit HaMikdash is inaugurated on the first day of Pesach, followed by 190 days of celebratory dedication – the ketz – until its triumphant conclusion on Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.


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Avraham Levitt is a poet and philosopher living in Philadelphia. He writes chiefly about Jewish art and mysticism. His most recent poem is called “Great Floods Cannot Extinguish the Love.” It can be read at He can be reached by email at [email protected].