Vayikra-Hachodesh - 5778/2018~ “Vayikreate”
Who remembers the first Rashi in the Bible-his very first commentary? Here is what Rashi says:
The Torah should have begun NOT with the story of creation, but with a discussion of the Mitzvah of Hachodesh”-the first commandment given to (the people of) Israel [ this is the Mitzvah that establishes our ability to declare a “New Moon”-and set our Hebrew “Holy Day” Calendar, starting with the first month of Nissan-beginning tomorrow!]. Rashi goes on to explain why the Torah veered from this concept.
But I never understood what Rashi meant by his initial statement that “Hachodesh” belongs “In the Beginning”. After all, the Torah doesn’t begin with any of the commandments! It goes through our collective background-starting with the beginning of creation and then it continues with the story of our forefathers and foremothers! In other words, yes, if the Torah indeed started out with a list of the commandments, it would certainly make sense to start with the first one we were given as a people. But the Torah does not list any Mitzvot until way later on…so why would we think that the Mitzvah of “renewing the months”-and establishing our calendar be part of the story of creation and our beginning?
Pun intended, here is my “Chiddush” and idea, which I am honored to share with you this Shabbos:
The world is mourning the loss of renowned Physicist Stephen Hawking who has lectured extensively about the origins of the universe. Hawking himself believed in “creation”. In his writing about the universe’s origin, he and co-author Leonard Mlodinowwrote in the 2010 book, “The Grand Design,” that the big bang was inevitable: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” the book states. “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist…”
This morning in a video clip I received from Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, the esteemed Rav of Kehillat Yavne here in L.A., I was excited to hear the Rabbi iterate this immutable concept: Science may be capable of explaining how gravity created the universe-but no one came up with the “answer” to “who created gravity?” Well said Rabbi Einhorn! -that’s where Judaism and belief in the existence of a world that is beyond time and place comes in. Judaism at its core is about recognizing that there is a “source for the source”.
I’d like to take Judaism even further. Hashem, in creating the world, indeed created forces that contain their own creative powers-all stemming from original creation. In other words, true creation, is when the creator transfers the ability of the created to continue that same creation. We were given this wondrous world-and we were given the power to perfect it. To build upon it. We were created as humans-with the ability to procreate, creating our own further generations. As the Talmud tells us: for each human there are three partners in creation, the parents-along with Hashem himself.
This transfers to the spiritual sphere as well. In the Mitzvah of “Hachodesh”, the Torah proclaims Hachodesh Hazeh Lachem”-“These are YOUR months. This is YOUR calendar. You people of Israel are granted the ability to participate in the creation of your OWN destiny. I am inviting you to be partners in creation itself. The spiritual realm, the calendar of my very holy days, will be up to YOU.
Understanding this, that “First Rashi” makes a whole lot more sense doesn’t It? Rashi is not saying that we need to list this Mitzvah as the first of a “list of commandments”. Rashi is saying rather, that this Mitzvah is a reflection of the story of creation. This mitzvah is part and parcel of creation itself-the creation of a people embodied with the power to propagate not only the physical destiny of the universe-but its spiritual trajectory and essence. Our ability to “renew” the month is the crowning achievement of creation-the ability of human beings to infuse the physical world with the spirit and force of G-d.
Friends, on this Erev Shabbat Hachodesh and Rosh Chodes Eve, I bless all to achieve the renewal we are all looking for individually-and I request all to spark a renewal for the entire world-with the “Koach” and the creative force we have all been empowered with from the beginning of time, so that this world once again becomes a true Gan Eden- a garden of peace love and prosperity filled with the holiness and happiness of a purposeful life. Shabbat Shalom and chodesh Tov!