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Haftarah: Yehezkel 45:18-16:15

MARCH 24-25, 2017 27 ADAR 5777

Rosh Hodesh Nisan will be celebrated on Tuesday, March 28.


"This month shall be for you the beginning of the months" (Shemot 12:2)

This week is Shabbat Hahodesh. We read about the first misvah we received in Egypt, to declare a new month, Rosh Hodesh, when we see the new moon. The month of Nisan, the month of the Pesah holiday, is to be month number one. The Jewish months alternate between twenty-nine and thirty days for a total of 354 days, eleven fewer days than the solar year. Every year Rosh Hodesh Nisan will fall eleven days earlier on the solar calendar. In order to keep Pesah in the spring, the Jewish leap year has an extra month.

Rabbi S. Goldhaber tells a story that took place in the 1950's when Soviet Russia's Iron Curtain was impenetrable. Russian Jews were cut off from the rest of the world. One day they were informed that there would be a window of opportunity to send some religious articles for a few weeks. They sent tefillin, mezuzot, sidurim, with some gentile businessmen. As an afterthought they threw in some Jewish calendars. When the businessmen returned they said that everything went smoothly, except the authorities would not allow the calendars! Upon hearing about this, Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Bloch, the Rosh Yeshivah of Telshe in Cleveland, commented, "Now we can appreciate the importance of the pasuk, 'This month shall be for you the first of the months.' The entire framework of the lunar system was created for us, to enable us to observe each misvah in its correct time. Somehow, consciously or unconsciously, the Russians realized that allowing the Jews to receive their special calendars would give them control over themselves and their status. This allowance they refused to make. 'This month shall be yours' puts the control of the calendar in our hands."

A true story is told of Rav Shemuel who was a prisoner in Siberia. With great devotion, he kept track of every day. The prison camp ran a ten day week with no month designation at all. Without his personal records he wouldn't know when it was Shabbat. He knew which month had twenty-nine days and which month had thirty. He calculated when Pesah was and managed to procure some wheat. After his back-breaking day of work he was able to kosher an oven and bake a few kosher matzot. On that Pesah, he ate matzot and potatoes and was so grateful to Hashem. Months later the family got his release. When he celebrated his great exodus he was dismayed to find out that that year was a Jewish leap year and he had eaten matzot on Purim instead of Pesah.

There is no doubt that Rav Shemuel received full credit as if he ate matzah on Pesah. How fortunate are we to be able to fulfill Hashem's misvot freely in their proper time. But, some people like Rav Shemuel are above time. They have their own calendar. Time is in their hands. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

This Shabbat, we read an additional portion of Torah dealing with the month of Nisan, since Rosh Hodesh Nisan will be this coming week. This Shabbat is therefore called Shabbat HaHodesh, which refers to Nisan.

However, there is an additional significance to this Shabbat. The word Hodesh is related to the word hadash, which means "new". The Passover season has within it the ability for one to renew and to revitalize oneself. The Jewish People were slaves to the Egyptians, and for a slave there is nothing new; everything stays the same. However, when we were freed, we became a new nation, and in addition, we were given the ability to rejuvenate ourselves. This is a very important trait in a human being, and especially in a Jew. In business, the word "new" seems to be on every standard package. When we see someone we know, it's always "what's new?" To renew oneself insofar as Judaism is concerned means to reevaluate our practices and customs, and to improve upon them. It means taking a fresh look at our surroundings, appreciating what we have, and looking forward to each new day for what it can bring us. It means we don't have to be the same today as we were yesterday; rather, each of us can become a new person.

Just as we see nature renew itself in the coming weeks, let us rejuvenate and revitalize ourselves this Passover season, bringing out the best that's in us in many new ways.

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

It Is Not My Job

People often pride themselves on being good judges of character. The truth is, however, that fathoming the true nature of another person requires a perceptive eye and a sensitive "nose." Many will admit, after all is said and done, how wrong they were when evaluating a job candidate by means of the resume-interview process. The person

who was "so perfect" for the position sometimes fails terribly and needs to be fired, while the employee who was hired with reluctance sometimes turns out to be one of the stars of the company.

Evaluating a human being is a complex process with staggering, mind-boggling variables. No one can assess the challenges another has had to face, or accurately measure another person's true value or abilities. It is very difficult to judge potential against achievement. That is Hashem's business, and His alone. It's never a good idea to play Hashem. When you judge another, judge leniently, and when you are evaluating yourself, be tough.

Our Sages teach that those who judge others favorably are given the benefit of the doubt when Heaven is judging them. When you take a critical view of other people's behavior, give them a break! This is not your job. Your job is to constantly review your own behavior and monitor your own self-improvement. By avoiding encroaching on Hashem's job and sticking to your own territory, you will buy yourself the benefit of the doubt in His evaluation of your behavior. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

* * * * *

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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