This Shabbos is Rosh Chodesh, as well as the special Shabbos of Parshas Hachodesh. In describing Chodesh Nissan, Parshas Hachodesh states "החדש הזה לכם ראש החדשים – This month shall be for you the beginning of the months.” The mitzvah of Kiddush Hachodesh was the first mitzvah given to the Jewish people as they were about to become a nation. Of all the wonderful lמצות that we have, why is this singled out as the very first מצוה?
The Seforno comments on this mitzvah that “from now on, the months will be yours to do with them as you wish.” This is the deep significance in Kiddush Hachodesh as the first mitzvah presented to a nation of freed slaves. A slave has no time to call his own. His days and nights are controlled by his master. Freedom means the ability to use time as one wishes and not to be dependent on the needs or desires of one’s master. Only when a person is in control of his time can he be commanded to perform the mitzvos of the Torah. Therefore, as a prelude to their new obligations to uphold the Torah, Klal Yisroel was given this special mitzvah that is the key to all the other mitzvos.
Historically, it has been the task of ביתדין to sanctify the cycle of months. However, it is the task of every Jew to sanctify the gift of life he has been given, by the proper utilization of time.
I remember at the Kenessiah Hagedolah, HaRav Shach addressed young cheder boys in Yerusahalayim asking them what is the greatest gift that they have. He smiled and leaned over to the hundreds of youngsters and said one word – “time.” As adults, we know that time is valuable if it is used correctly. Our task is to motivate our children to make the best use of their time, based on the values and priorities we pass on to them and model for them with our own lives. This is the timely lesson of Parshas Hachodesh.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School