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A Dvar Torah for Parshah Tetzaveh

Our Dvar Torah: Lessons From The Moon

A Dvar Torah for Parshah Vayak'hel-Pekudei and Parshat HaChodesh,
Exodus 35:1 - 40:38, Exodus 12:1-20. Likutey Moharan Book II #01,

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman ben Ya'akov © March 12, 2021

On Shabbat HaChodesh we celebrate the sanctification of the new moon (known as Rosh Chodesh) as commanded at Numbers 28:11:

And on the beginning of your months, you shall offer up a burnt offering to the Lord: two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in the first year, [all] unblemished.

This Mitzvot 538 in the standard versions of Rambam's 613. By including Parshat HaChodesh on this special Shabbat we reminded that our mission in life as Jews is to correct what is broken, to “fill the moon’s lack.” How can we understand this? What lack does the moon has and how does that relate to us?

We have this based on Midrash Rabbah:

The moon begins to shine on the first of the month, and increases in luminescence till the fifteenth day, when her orb becomes full. From the fifteenth till the thirtieth day her light wanes until, on the thirtieth day of her cycle, it is not seen at all. The same is true of Israel. Fifteen generations passed from Abraham to Solomon and our glory grew. Abraham was a bright Light. Ya'akov added more Light. Then came Judah, Peretz, Chetzron, Ram, Aminadav, Nachshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David and the Light of Israel increased. When Shlomo HaMelech or Solomon appeared the Orb of Israel's Light reached its fullness. After Shlomo the Light of the kings began to lesson until the reign of Zedekiah and the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash or Holy Temple. With the destruction of the Temple for Israel the Light became darkness.

Our Sages tell us that originally the sun and moon were of equal glory, as implied Genesis 1:16, but that the Moon became haughty. Then:

Said G-d to Moon: Go diminish yourself.
Said she to Him: Master of the Universe! Because I have said a proper thing, I must diminish myself?
Said He to her: You may rule both during the day and at night.
Said she to Him: What advantage is there in that? What does a lamp accomplish at high noon?
Said He to her: The people of Israel shall calculate their dates and years by you.
Said she to Him: But the sun, too, shall have a part in that, for they shall calculate the seasons by him.
Said G-d: The righteous shall be called by your name—“Ya'akov the Small,” “Samuel the Small,” “David the Small.”

Still G-d saw that the moon was not appeased. So G-d said: “Offer an atonement for My sake, for My having diminished the moon.” This is the significance of what Reish Lakish said: Why does the he-goat offered on Rosh Chodesh (the first of the month) differ from the others in that it is specified as for G-d? G-d is saying: This he-goat shall atone for My diminishing of the moon.

– This according to Talmud, Chullin 60b

Now as we once again prepare ourselves for Pesach – this year from the evening of Saturday, March 27 to the evening of Sunday, April 4 – we are particularly aware of the Darkness that surrounds us all. We are all living in the midst of an historic global pandemic of debatable origins and uncertain outcome. Our immediate future looks gray and uncertain. Despite our diverse opinions about why we are experiencing this Divine Judgment – which frankly we deserve – we can surely all agree that is a time of great darkness and uncertainty. If we are honest we will admit that we have woefully failed to meet our potential. We have hated, we have murderered, we stolen, we have committed lashon hara .. so many sins! And yet, we ARE His people and will arise to our potential! Those who are wise will do so today! Always making certain to not allow the perfect to deafeat the good.

So even as we arrive at the new moon of Rosh Chodesh Nisan, on March 13, 2021, 7:03 (at precisely 5 chalakim) PM, we know that Pesach will arrive on schedule, Bezrat HaShem. And then we will join together with our loved ones in observance of our ancient Pesach rites, in expectation of our continuing journey from the Darkness of Mizraim and slavery to the Freedom and Love and Light of Har Sinai! Yes, our journey continues from Darkness to Light as it always has! Aas Shlomo said, "There is nothing new under the sun."

And then, from Sunday, March 28 through Sunday May 16 we will, as a community, once again Count the nightly Omer and, with HaShem's Mercy, we will once again attain the blessings of Shavuot. Yes! Together We Shall Be Free! Even amid the restrictions imposed upon by this deserved Divine Judgment. we commit ourselves to remembering that everything comes from HaShem for our ultimate benefit, even this Pandemic, even human foolishness and evil.

And yes, one blessed day, Bezrat HaShem, we will KNOW the Blessed Light of the Olam Haba. May it come soon and in our lifetime. May Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David begin their righteous reign soon, very soon! May HaShem grant us all the peace and the emunah we need to pass through these interim days leading up to their mighty work of global rectification. And may we, each in our own ways, assist in this great work.

By the undeserved Mercy of HaShem, the Holy One of Israel!

Am Y'israel Chai!

Blessed be He!

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