Thursday, January 22, 2015

Know Who You Are

In this weeks parsha, Bo, we are given the first mitzva, to sanctify the new month on the testamony of two witnesses who saw the birth of the new moon.

The words in the Torah that teach us this mitzva are "This month, for you, will be the first month". Hashem showed Moshe the sliver of the new moon and said "this" is how the moon should look.

At the same time, with the same words, we are taught: "This month" the month of Nissan, "for you" for the Jewish people, "will be the first month" or literally "the head of months".

Why is it so important for Hashem to tell us, by the first mitzva, that Nissan be our "head month"?

In the month of Nissan we became a people, in the month of Nissan we were redeemed. Asking us to consider Nissan as our head month, tells us that there is something about this month that defines us as a people.

"This month" has several names. It is called Nissan, which comes from the word nes, which means miracle. This teaches us that we are a miraculous nation, with miraculous abilities. We have the ability to change the world, to make the mundane holy by doing mitzvas. This is because though we have physical bodies we have been infused with a neshama, a soul, which is a piece of Hashem. This makes us a G-Dly people, above nature, inabeling us to take two opposites, holy and mundane and fuse them together. Making the physical world G-Dly.

It is called the month of Aviv, spring. Spring is the time that trees bud new growth. This teaches us that we cannot be comfortable with our past accomplishments, we must be constantly growing, adding in Torah, service, and good deeds.

It is also the month of Geula, redemption. This teaches us that we are a truly free people. We must never feel that we need to be like "them". We have our way, the Jewish way, which is by far superior, and by far more humane.

This is why it is told to us by the first mitzva, because first you need to know who you are. You are imbude with these traits, specifically to do these mitzvas.

This is who we are, this is what we are, it is OK to be proud of who you are.

This D'var Torah is in honor of my Brother in law Meir Ashkenazi. Happy Birthday!! May HaShem give you a truly blessed year.


  1. HaShem informed Moshe, "For 2,448 years, I have proclaimed every new month in Heaven but now that you have become a nation, I entrust this task with you." Only blessings for you Rabbi :)

  2. Thank you for your observations and instruction. Dr J