Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Tazria - 5776

My friends,

This is a special Shabbat called Shabbat HaHodesh, the Shabbat of the Month, as it marks the first day in the month of Nissan. HaHodesh means 'THE month'.

Before leaving Egypt, the Children of Israel were commanded to consider the month of Nissan as Rosh Hodashim, the head of the months, because they will be liberated during Nissan:

"HaHodesh hazeh lachem rosh hodashim, rishon hu lachem lehodshei HaShanah." - "This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months, it shall be for you the first month of the year." (Exodus 12:2)

The Midrash comments on the word "lachem" - "for you" - to emphasize that as a free people, your calendar is totally yours. You no longer depend on the calendar of the masters you served for so many centuries. Your religious holidays are not governed by any planetary systems, but are in your hands to determine the dates and times of your important events and celebrations.

"HaHodesh Hazeh Lachem" - "This month for you" - has an important message for each of us. 'Hodesh', in Hebrew, comes from the word 'Hadash' - 'new'. We have the opportunity for renewal every month, every day. While we may not know how much time we have in this world, every month, every day that we have, is 'Hadash' - new, a beginning. Every day is Rosh Hodashim, the beginning of new things.

Pesah is the Festival of Freedom and the 'Hag Ha-Aviv' - the Festival of Spring. Rosh Hodesh Nissan marks the beginning of spring, when all of nature returns to life. That is the essence of Pesah - to free ourselves and take advantage of the new beginning.

Have a good Hodesh and Shabbat Shalom,

Avram