Sacred Time

January 7, 2019 at 1:49 AM , , ,

“….This month shall be for you the head of the months…” – Shemot 12:2

הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים – שמות יב, ב

The first mitzvah given to the Jews (as a nation) was to determine and sanctify the day that will be Rosh Chodesh, the first of every month, in effect creating the Jewish calendar (see Rashi on Beraishis 1:1).  This command lies in the words of the verse quoted above. The words החדש הזה can also be translated as “this renewal,” meaning that G-d showed Moshe the crescent moon and said, “When the moon renews itself, it will be Rosh Chodesh for you” (Rashi ad loc.). The priority given to this mitzvah suggests that sanctifying Rosh Chodesh is a model mitzvah, representing the themes that lay at the core of all the other mitzvos as well.

The primary purpose of the mitzvos is to transform the physical world from mundane to holy. By using a particular object to perform a mitzvah, thereby revealing the G-dly purpose for which it was created, that physical object becomes sanctified.

Sacred Time

This idea is epitomized in the sanctification of Rosh Chodesh, in which time itself is elevated. This mitzvah is observed by Beis Din sanctifying a day that was previously like any other, declaring that it is now Rosh Chodesh; it is no longer a regular weekday, and is replete with special offerings brought in the Beis Hamikdash etc. Furthermore, the workings of the calendar require Beis Din to calculate the constant cycles and patterns of the sun and the moon. Thus, this mitzvah elevates not only the days sanctified as Rosh Chodesh (and by extension, the holidays observed on specific dates within the months,) it also reveals the G-dly purpose within the entire passage of time.

The sanctification of Rosh Chodesh was therefore the first mitzvah commanded, being as it is clearly and obviously an act of sanctifying the mundane, which is essentially the underlying theme behind all the mitzvos.

Furthermore, time is marked by change, which is the “first” and most basic characteristic of every creation: the change from non-existence to existence. Therefore, the mitzvah of declaring Rosh Chodesh is specifically the first mitzvah. Just as time is the very first creation, its sanctification as well is the very first mitzvah.

—Likkutei Sichos vol. 26, pp. 61-65


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