Sedra of the Week: Vayikra and Hachodesh

Sedra of the Week: Vayikra and Hachodesh

Rabbi Naftali Schiff looks at the forthcoming week’s portion of the Torah

The days are getting longer, trees are blossoming and birds chirping. The season of renewal is upon us.

This Shabbat we add the extra passage of Parshat HaChodesh, formally ushering in the month of Nissan, starting with the words, hachodesh hazeh lachem rosh chodashim, this month is for you the head of the year.

The Jewish calendar is unique in that it is not purely lunar, like the Muslim calendar, nor is it purely solar like the Gregorian calendar; rather it is a combination of both.

Our months are defined by the cycle of the moon, with the word for month, chodesh, being derived from the word chadash, new. This is qualified by ensuring it remains in sync with the solar cycle, so that the month of Nissan always remains in the spring.

The tension between these two cycles is obvious. The sun remains static while the moon moves in cycles of growth and regression. In life, we have a constant tension between the need for consistency and spontaneity.

We humans are creatures of habit; we thrive on the familiar, but at the same time, familiarity can breed contempt, or at the very least boredom or resentment.

We therefore need to inject our lives, relationships and experiences with a sense of chiddush, renewal, in order that we remain fresh and vibrant.

Pesach is a time when we re-engage with the familiar, after an intense period of preparation.

We sit down with family and friends and reconnect with our national memory, recommitting to our individual and collective destiny.

We enjoy the familiar tastes and tunes and discuss our history with a view to applying its lessons to our lives.

The way to keep this season fresh and exciting is to proactively use the next couple of weeks to develop and apply new and relevant insights, thereby injecting the familiar with a sense of chiddush renewal.

Good luck and good chodesh!

Rabbi Naftali Schiff is founder and CEO of Jewish Futures 

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