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Parshat HaChodesh and the First Mitzvah to the Jewish People


הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה:

This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year (Shmot 12:2)

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This week, we read Parshat HaChodesh, found in Shmot, chapter 12. This is the fourth of the 4 special parshiot for the month of Adar, leading up to Pesach. Parshat HaChodesh discusses the mitzvah of sanctifying the new moon and the upcoming holiday of Pesach (Passover). This Parsha marks a significant turning point in the history of the Jewish people, as it is the moment when they officially become a nation with their own calendar, holidays, and rituals.


In Perek 12, Pasuk 2, we find The first mitzvah given to the Jewish people as a nation, the commandment to sanctify the new moon, which establishes the Jewish calendar and enables us to celebrate our holidays on the correct dates. In addition, it also reminds us of our connection to the natural world and the cycles of the moon.


In the very first Pasuk of the Torah (Breishit 1:1), Rashi asks why does the Torah start at Breishit, and not here in Shmot 12, with the mitzvah of sanctifying the new moon. Afterall, this is the first commandment given to the Jewish people. Instead, the Torah begins with the story of creation, Adam & Chava, then Noach, stories of Avraha, Yitchak and Yaakov, and then the narrative of enslavement and liberation from Egypt. Yes, some mitzvot are mentioned in those earlier parts of the Torah, but these mitzvot were not given to the entire nation until later. Rashi explains that this teaches us that God created the entire world himself, and that he chose Bnei Yisrael as his people to receive his inheritance. This way the nations of the world cannot accuse the Jewish people of being thieves by taking over the land of Israel from the C’naanim. The Jewish people can respond to this accusation:

כָּל הָאָרֶץ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הִיא, הוּא בְרָאָהּ וּנְתָנָהּ לַאֲשֶׁר יָשַׁר בְּעֵינָיו,

"The entire earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it (this we learn from the story of the Creation) and gave it to whomever He deemed proper” (Rashi, Breishit 1:1)


Rashi’s explanation has never been more relevant than it is today. As we see many nations of the world, and many of our enemies accusing the Jewish people of stealing the land of Israel from other peoples, and not recognizing that Israel is the indigenous homeland of the Nation of Israel.


Thus an important lesson from Parshat HaChodesh, as well as Breishit, and really the entire Torah, is that the land of Israel is the land of the Jewish people. We should all come back to Israel, and make this land our homes, where we can not only fulfill the mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh, but all the mitzvot of the Torah. And we can make a kiddush HaShem by acknowledging and accepting our gift from HaShem - Eretz Yisrael.

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