Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Hachodesh
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

Yaakov Ben Behora

Parashat Hachodesh

Time Control


Rabbi Ari Waxman

The words of Parashat Hachodesh read this week, "Hachodesh hazeh lachem," remind us once again of the very first Rashi in the Torah. Where should the Torah begin? We would have thought that the appropriate beginning of the book which is meant to teach us how to lead our life as Jews would be the first commandment, the mitzvah of sanctifying the new month and establishing leap years. Why, then, does the Torah first tell us so many historic facts, as interesting as they may be?

The Gaon of Vilna explains that the very first act of creation within the physical world was the creation of time. It is within this framework of time that all other aspects of life exist. And here we must differentiate between two dimensions of time. The first is the down to earth system of time, the time of the natural world, which is symbolized by the sun. The second system is associated with the moon, a system which is dynamic, irregular, and allows for constant new beginnings.

While, on one hand, "Jewish time" is the non-static time of the moon - "Hachodesh hazeh lachem," from the very beginning the Torah makes sure that we realize that we also maintain a very close bond with the natural world, the time system associated with the sun, which, in the words of Rashi, constitutes an act of giving us a portion of this physical world, "latet lahem nachalat goyim." Within the world of time we express our connection with the physical world through the intercalation of months, connecting the lunar system of time with the solar calendar.

Moving from the dimension of time to the dimension of space, we find the strongest expression of this bond in Eretz Israel. While Eretz Israel is a physical land like all other lands, "nachalat goyim," it is also the gateway to heaven. It is precisely at this point that a merger of the two systems transpires, "ibbur hashana" and "latet lahem nachalat goyim."

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