Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Tomorrow Is Rosh Chodesh -- Change Your World

During Yom Tov and even during Chol Ha'Mo'ed, we take out a second sefer Torah and read the appropriate mussaf portion from parshas Pinchas.  We don't do that on Shabbos.  Tosefos (as soon as I remember or am reminded of the location, I will -- bli neder -- fill it in here) gives two reasons.  First, he (well... "they", technically)  says (sigh... yes, then this would have to be "say"; can we just get on with this now, please?  Thank you.) that there are only two p'sukim and we don't take out a sefer Torah for less than three p'sukim.  The truth is, though, that is not a very strong reason.  After all, even though the general rule is not to have a Torah reading session that is less than 10 p'sukim, the reading for Purim is only nine p'sukim.  The poskim all say that is allowed because the rule of 10 p'sukim applies when you aren't reading an entire topic, but if the entire topic is only nine p'sukim, then no problem.  Maybe, therefore, the fact that mussaf for Shabbos is only two p'sukim is ok and we really should read it.

That brings us to the second answer Tosafos gives: then the haftara would have to be the same every week.  ...stunned silence...  I know, I know... who knew that choice of haftara was so precise that it must be connected to the preceding Torah reading.  Now that rule is iron-clad.  Which is to say, there is only one exception: the day before Rosh Chodesh. ...more stunned silence... Right; there is only one event for which we break the rule that the haftara must be connected to the preceding Torah reading: when Sunday is Rosh Chodesh.  Must be really, really important; right?  I mean there must be a powerful connection between the Sunday being Rosh Chodesh and the haftara we read.  Powerful enough to override the haftara for the any regular parsha.  You bet!  The chosen haftara (Shmuel 1, 20:18-42) contains the words, "מָחָר חֹדֶשׁ"/tomorrow is the new moon. ...huh?!...

There must be more to it than that, right?  Well, yes and no.  That really is the connection, those two words.  The reason that doesn't seem like enough of a reason is that we haven't asked the right question.  The right question is: Why did HaShem direct Shmuel to use those words at all.  Why do I care that the conversation between Dovid and Y'honason took place the day before rosh chodesh?  There not even a mention of which chodesh it was; just that is was the day before a rosh chodesh.

R' Shimon Schwab in Mayin Beis HaSho'eivah (in the ma'amar, Haftara Machar Chodesh), says that Y'honason was asking Dovid to wait before fleeing from Sha'ul till after rosh chodesh because rosh chodesh is a time for renewal and atonement.  It was possible, reasoned Y'honason, that rosh chodesh could have such an influence on Sha'ul that all the needless and baseless hatred would be forgotten.  That's a powerful message.

But there's more.  In the mussaf of rosh chodesh, we pray that the a new alter should be established in Tzion; meaning that rosh chodesh is a time propitious for redemption.  We could feel let down, therefore, after every rosh chodesh; "Why didn't the mashiach come?  Why are we still banished in the diaspora?"  The haftara tells us the reason that Dovid was not in his regular seat... because of sinas chinam; baseless hatred.  As Chazal have told us, it is that very mida of baseless hatred through all the generations that has kept the Beis HaMikdash from being rebuilt.  But the haftara doesn't just remind us of the disease, it points to the cure.  It doesn't simply describe the cure, it actually shows us how to implement it.  The cure?  ahavas chinam/baseless love -- love for another Jew just because he is another Jew.  The model for that?  The love of Y'honason and Dovid.  Y'honason was the son of Sha'ul and the heir apparent.  Y'honason had the most to lose by Dovid staying alive; none of that mattered.  Y'honason loved Dovid; that's all that mattered.  You want the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, the kingdom of melech ha'mashiach?  Stop petty bickering; reach out in friendship to your fellow Jew.

An exalted message and lesson like that is certainly worth interrupting your normally scheduled haftara.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…