Thursday, March 23, 2017

Essence Revealed

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All Articles For Parshas...  Hachodesh  Vayakhel  Pekudei

This week we add a special Torah reading, Parshas Hachodesh. The Haftora for Parshas Hachodesh is from the book of Yechezkel, in which he tells about the inauguration of the Third Temple, It tells of the responsibilities and laws pertaining to the Nassi (explained below). It mentions Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the Pesach sacrifice, eating matzah on Pesach, Temple regulations, and other sacrifices and offerings brought in the Temple.

The connection to the parsha, is that like the Haftora, Parshas Hachodesh mentions Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the laws of the Pesach sacrifice, and eating matzoh.

Who is the Nassi referring to in the Haftora? Rashi cites two opinions. His own opinion, is that it refers to the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest. Alternatively, he brings the opinion of Rabbi Menachem, that it refers to the King.

Sephardic and Chabad communities begin with the verse that mentions Rosh Chodesh Nissan, presumably because Parshas Hachodesh begins with a verse about Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Ashkenazic communities add the two verses that come before and the three that come after. These extra verses pertain specifically to the Nassi. Interesting to note, that although Chabad custom is not to say the extra verses, the Chabad Rebbes did say them, but only after they accepted the mantle of leadership, and became the Nassi.

Parshas Hachodesh says nothing about a Nassi. What is the connection between these verses and Parshas Hachodesh?

Rosh Chodesh Nissan usually falls in the week before or after parshas Vayikra (except in Jewish leap years), this indicates that there is a special connection between Vayikra and Rosh Chodesh Nissan. In parshas Vayikra you find a sacrifice of the Kohen Gadol and a sacrifice of the Nassi, which in the parsha means the King.

Another reason that would align with Rabbi Menachem's opinion, that the Nassi refers to the King. Is that Rosh Chodesh Nissan is the New Year for kings. So Parshas Hachodesh is about Rosh Chodesh Nissan, which is the Rosh Hashanah for the Nassi.

Why does the Haftora tell us about the details of the inauguration, the sacrifices and regulations of the Third Temple? Because Parshas Hachodesh speaks of the Pesach sacrifice, which is eaten at the Seder. The essence of the Seder, is the Exodus from Egypt and the coming of the future redemption. Also, our great sages say, that "In the month of Nissan will be the future redemption." Being that Parshas Hachodesh is about Rosh Chodesh Nissan and Pesach, and Nissan and Pesach are about the redemption, the Haftora gives details of the Third Temple inauguration, sacrifices and regulations.

The Haftora goes into the details regarding the opening of the Heichal gate. It is only to be opened on Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh and when the Nassi brings a sacrifice. No one is allowed to enter through the gate, even the Nassi should stand at the gate as the Kohen prepares and offers his sacrifice, then he should bow down to Hashem, but he doesn't enter. On Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh, the gate is to remain open, so that people visiting the Temple can bow down to Hashem.

The gate was open on Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh, but it was closed on Yom Tov. Why?

The difference between Shabbos and Yom Tov, is that on Shabbos we are lifted to a higher level, we are spiritually uplifted above the natural. On Shabbos, the court didn't find it necessary to set extra protections to prevent inappropriate behavior, even though it is a mitzvah to drink wine, which could lead to frivolity. Because on Shabbos we are above the natural.

On Yom Tov we are not above nature, rather, we draw from above into nature. Because we remain in the natural, and it is a mitzvah to drink wine, we must abide by the rules of nature. Therefore the court would set extra protections to prevent inappropriate behavior. This is also the reason why we are specifically meticulous to have a guest on Yom Tov, more than on Shabbos. Because having a guest is a protection from inappropriate behavior, which is not necessary on Shabbos.

Another difference is that on Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh, Gehinnom does not operate, because punishment is not meted out on Shabbos or Rosh Chodesh. However, it does operate on Yom Tov.

On Rosh Chodesh, although we are in the world, and we work unlike Yom Tov. Being that Gehinnom does not operate, and the Heichal gate was indeed open, we must conclude that we are in an elevated state, like Shabbos. And the work we do on Rosh Chodesh, is somehow not the same as on a regular weekday. Also, because there is no mitzvah to drink wine, no protections were necessary.

The Shaloh Hakadosh tells us that all the days of the month of Nissan are like Rosh Chodesh. As Parshas Hachodesh begins, "This month should be for you Rosh Chadashim," which can be understood to mean, that the month of Nissan should be a month of Rosh Chodeshes. So the whole month is connected to, and share properties with Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

Please allow me to take you to a deeper place.

About the Heichal gate, the Haftora says, "The gate of the inner courtyard which faces east shall be closed for the six working days, but on Shabbos it shall be opened, and on Rosh Chodesh it shall be opened."

Hashem created the world with 10 utterances which came from the Divine Wisdom. Higher than Divine Wisdom is the Divine Will, that is where Hashem's yearning to create the world begins. Divine Wisdom is connected to the world, while Divine Will is before or above any connection to the world.

The gate of the Heichal is called "the gate that faces kadim (east)." Kadim is like kodem, which means before, referring to the Divine Will.

During the six working days the gate was closed, meaning, that the Divine Will is hidden. During the six working days, our connection to Hashem comes only through toil and hard work. However, on Shabbos the gate is open, His will is revealed, as it says about the first Shabbos "He ceased work and rested." Does Hashem really need rest? Rather it means, that He ceased creating from Divine Wisdom and His Will was revealed. When this happened, Hashem had great pleasure, because His Will was fulfilled.

This happens every Shabbos, Hashem's Will is revealed, and since the essence of a Jew also preceded creation, as it  comes from Hashem's Will, our essence is revealed as well. This is the meaning of the idea, that on Shabbos we are given an extra neshama, an extra level of our neshama is revealed.

This is also why we add the words v'ratza banu (that He wants us) in the Shabbos Kiddush. Ratza is from ratzon, which means will. On Shabbos, the gate is open, Hashem's Will is revealed, therefore our essence is revealed, and we experience our intrinsic bond with Hashem. That we are His ratzon, His Will, He wants us.

On Rosh Chodesh, our essence is revealed as well, as "Israel is similar to the moon." The idea of Rosh Chodesh, is that there is something new, there is a new moon. And this, in essence, is what a Jew is all about, Hashem made us partners in creation. Our part is to add something new through our actions and work, through our Torah and mitzvahs. Where by we create an environment where Hashem could dwell openly. This is the Divine Will, and the reason for creation. This will be realized with the coming of Moshiach.

On Rosh Chodesh, the deepest part of our neshama is revealed, the point where we are one with Hashem, the spark of Moshiach that is in each and every one of us.

Being that the Divine Will is revealed on Rosh Chodesh, the Heichal gate is open.

The extra verses at the end of the Haftora, tells us the laws pertaining to gifts of land given by the Nassi. If the gift is to one of his sons, "It will belong to his sons, and it will be their possession by inheritance." If the gift is to one of his servants, "It shall be his until the jubilee year, it then returns to the Nassi." The Haftora then seemingly repeats, "But his inheritance to his sons, will be theirs." What is the Haftora adding with these words?

There are two relationships here to the Nassi, his sons and his servants.

A son has a natural bond with his father, he and his father are one. He doesn't have to do anything to earn this connection. When his father passes on, he takes the place of his father, the inheritance is automatic. Therefore, if his father gives him a gift, it is forever.

A servant does not have this natural bond. His relationship is based on his commitment to his master, and his acceptance of the yolk of service. All land in Israel, returns to its original owner in the jubilee year. Unlike the son, the servant doesn't take the place of his master, and the land goes back to the original owner.

Our relationship with Hashem, takes two forms. We are Hashem's children, as it says, "You are children to Hashem your G-d." As mentioned above, we have an intrinsic bond with Hashem. The son relationship is one of love, and in our service to Hashem, it is the pleasurable parts of Judaism, doing Torah and mitzvahs out of understanding and because we want to.

The problem with this kind of relationship is that, it is on our terms and can only reach to the level of our understanding, it is not infinite.

Then we are Hashem's servants, as it says, ". . . The Children of Israel, they are My servants." This is not the pleasurable kind, but rather, it is what we do out of commitment and acceptance of Hashem's yoke. Because we negate our will for His, the connection is on His terms, which is infinite.

The Haftora first speaks of the son, then the servant, and then the son again. Because it is coming to teach us about a third type of relationship that is greater than both.

The third, is a son that also has the qualities of the servant, that is why it is mentioned after the servant. Simply put, the son serves his father, the king, with a sense of commitment and acceptance of a yoke, but he does it out of love, pleasure and joy.

This is the best way to serve Hashem. This way, we find pleasure in serving Hashem and the connection is infinite. Needless to say, that Hashem enjoys it most when we serve Him this way.

This perhaps is the meaning of the verse, "Serve Hashem with joy." Serving as a servant, with joy, as a son.

May we merit to experience this deep connection with Hashem. And may we soon see our Nassi and the opening of the Heichal gate, in our Third Temple. The time has come.


  1. Shavua Tov and Gut voch!
    The entire family loved your vort by the Shabbos table! Deep indeed, but beautiful!
    Was the closed hechal gate for the Nasi the same as the one mentioned in Midos that was closed (on left side of main Hechal gate) as being Hashem's "gate"?