This week a special additional section is also read. It is called “Parshas Hachodesh” and discusses the laws of the upcoming festival of Pesach (Passover). This section is always read on the Sabbath on or prior to the first day of the month of Nisan to remind the Jews to begin preparing for the holiday. It is there that we read of the first mitzvah G-d commanded the Jewish people, even before they had left Egypt. “Hachodesh hazeh lachem rosh chadashim-This month will be the first of the months for you”. The Jewish People are to establish a calendar, with the month that Pesach occurs (Nisan) as the first month.
The question is asked, of all the Mitzvot G-d would command the Jews, why was the first one a very technical one? Why not something more inspirational. And why was this command given to them while still in Egypt? Why not include the instructions for the calendar with the hundreds of other commands given in the desert? There is a beautiful explanation to this question I believe taught by the Munkatcher Rebbe.
The Mitzvah to establish a calendar was not arbitrarily mentioned at this juncture in time.
The Jews had been slaves to Pharaoh for hundreds of years. They were now on the threshold of freedom. But a slave doesn’t become a free person overnight. He must actively change his mode of thinking from slave mode, to freedom mode. A slave has no concept of his own time. He operates solely on the whims and desires of his master. Regardless of what time it truly may be, a slave must be prepared to serve whenever his master calls and his existence must revolve around the masters schedule. Not so a free man. He lives with a conception of time independent from any overlord or external pressure. And this is exactly the mentality G-d desired to inculcate in the soon-to-be-freed Jewish people. No longer were they to be slaves to one man. They were to be a nation dedicated to an eternal G-d. by living a life of Torah, a Jew is truly free. And a free people need their own way of keeping time. Hence, as a preparation for the Exodus, G-d instructs Moses how to create a Jewish calendar, reflecting their new, exalted status.
Pesach (Passover) is April 3-11. We would like to invite everyone to our Seder. It will be Friday evening, April 3. Please see the attached flier for details.
If anyone would like to join us for any of the other festive meals (Lunch on April 4,5,10,11, or Dinner on April 9,10) we would love to have you! Please RSVP by email.
We are also planning on having a Passover and Yizkor service on the morning of April 11, followed by lunch. If you are interested in attending, please let me know.
In order to make a beautiful and kosher Pesach, many preparations and purchases have to be made. Chabad is here to help Mississippi’s Jews have all their Pesach needs met. We encourage all who are able to become a partner with us. Please consider making a small donation in honor of the upcoming holiday.
Wishing you and your family a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Akiva Hall