Israel Forever

For the week ending 5 April 2008 / 29 Adar II 5768

The First Mitzvah

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Every Jew attending a synagogue this Shabbat will be aware that this is the finale of the four special additional Torah readings – Parshat Hachodesh.

This reading from Parshat Bo begins with the first mitzvah given to the Jewish people as a nation, even before they received the Torah. What is so special about this particular mitzvah?

It may be suggested that as our ancestors stood on the threshold of freedom from Egyptian bondage it was important for them to receive a commandment to calculate the passing of time according to a lunar calendar. This not only distinguished them from the other nations whose calendar was based on the sun, but also called attention to the comparison between the smaller heavenly luminary and the Jewish nation. The moon has no light of its own and merely reflects the light of the sun. In a similar vein the Jewish people receive whatever power they have from the Creator and His Torah.

Learning this lesson from the first mitzvah and applying it to the culture of our people is what will secure Israel forever.

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