Thursday, March 30, 2006

DVAR TORAH: Rosh Chodesh Nisan

Pardes does something unorthodox (no pun intended) on Rosh Chodesh. They blow Chatzotzot, trumpets, which was a Temple practice. This is in opposition to what I have seen in other places that have such practices that instead blow Shofar, the horn of a kosher animal (I believe this also includes that of a cow on any day besides Rosh Hashannah). I ended up blowing it today, in more ways than one, as I screwed up when I was asked to do it on the spot (ok, I volunteered), having never even blown a trumpet before, let alone two at one time.

Now then, I had an dvar torah epiphany today, as I often do, when on my 30+ minute walk home from school. I realized the chiastic structure of the year based on the two especially holy months (at least according to me), Tishri and Nisan which are on direcly opposite sides of the year. Today, the first of Nisan, which also marks the first of months and the first mitzvah, is also the date upon which, as I mentioned in my last week's dvar torah, was the date upon which the Mishkan, the Tabernacle was constructed. The parallel event to this, of course, is the date on which the first Beit HaMikdash, the Temple was finished, on the 15th of the Month of Etamim (the Biblical term for the month of Tishri). We are also commanded to remember two days eternally: the 1st of Tishri, the date on which God rested after creation, which is observed today in measuring the days of the weeks, (ie: "Hayom Yom Chamishi B'Shabbat", "today is the fifth day of the sabbath" which would introduce the psalm of the day on Thursday morning) and the 15th of Nisan, the day on which we were taken out of Egypt, which is marked in the measuring of the months of the year (ie: "On the first day of the seventh month is a day for blowing the shofar for you" refers to Rosh Hashannah which is actually the first day of the SEVENTH month of the year, while today is the first day of the first month). The days we remember eternally are those of God's completion, and the opposite corresponding dates are those of human completion.

So to clarify the chiasm is as follows:
Tishri Nisan
1st Creation Completion of Tabernacle
15th Completion of Temple Exodus

I realized something else too. There is this seemingly arbitrary date given to gather goats or lambs for the Pascal sacrifice, the 10th of Nisan in the year 2448, 5 days before the Exodus. I realized the significance of this date, though I feel I realized it before. When you say "The First Month", from Exodus 12 and on, it refers to Aviv/Nisan, the month that we were taken out of egypt. When you see it earlier, for example in the story of Noah, the first month is Tishri, and today, without a monarchy (for whom the years of the king's reign were marked by the month of Nisan), we have reverted to the years being marked by Rosh Hashannah. Therefore, the 10th day of the 1st month could be that "Shabbat HaGadol" on which we took the lambs and goats of egypt and publically tied them up, or perhaps it could be Yom Kippur, where we take goats and publically tie one of them up with red ribbon and push it off a cliff (well, at least in Temple times anyway). What these two events have in common is that there is a high level of uncertainty and unease. Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur are incredibly stressful and solemn and you don't know whether or not you will be forgiven, and afterwards you have to immediately prepare for sukkot, leading to another stressful four days, and on the 15th of Tishrei, your work complete, you can rejoice (just like the Beit Hamikdash being completed on this date or God resting after His Creation). In Egypt, Nisan 2448, the 1st of the month and the 10th of the month were very unsure times. Sure, they should have had faith in God, but when you go out and take a deity of egypt and tie it up in your front yard, you are sure to raise the ire of the Egyptians (about whom Moses claimed during the Plague of Wild Beasts (after pharaoh suggested they sacrifice within the land of Egypt rather than going into the wilderness) that the Egyptians would stone them to death for doing something so abhorrent to them. No, only after we sacrificed it and had the first seder were we sure and were we free. We also were lacking before that point, and we needed the mitzvah of Circumcision in order to partake of the Pascal sacrifice and to attain God's forgiveness. So we have a mirror of a year, yet we always are aspiring for more, always looking ahead to the next hill we will be climbing in the Jewish year.

Chodesh Tov and Shana Tova,

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