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Tzvi Moshe Kantor On Renewal

This week’s Parsha is very detailed, covering a whirlwind of topics. We will, B’Ezras Hashem focus on the issue of Kidush HaChodesh. The Passuk says, “HaChodesh HaZeh Lachem” ‘This month shall be for you.’ There is a deeper insight brought down in a number of sources: instead of reading the word Chodesh as ‘month’, read it instead as Chidush - “HaChidush HaZeh Lachem”, ‘This renewal shall be for you’. We will try develop a better understanding of what Hischadshus is, and from there walk away with a powerful outlook onto how to always have the ability to Mechazek, to empower ourselves to constantly serve HaKadosh Baruch Hu at the highest level possible.

There is a concept in Jewish thought that everything is combined in the head of the matter. The root of any bodily process, or any action is rooted in my head. In terms of more esoteric thought, any minor detail is a segment of the major concept. The name of any Parsha contains all the issues that the Parsha deals with. The word Bereishis, the first word of creation, contains the whole universe in it, and there are many other examples of how this plays out.

The first Mitzvah given to the Jewish people as a nation is Kidush HaChodesh. Thus, on some level whatever the essence of Kidush HaChodesh is, has contained within it the essence of every Mitzvah.

To understand how this works we need to do two things. First, we need to understand the Tachlis of any Ma’aseh Mitzvah, the end-goal of any action that Hashem commands us to do. Secondly, we need understand the various nekudos, the multiple details that define Kidush HaChodesh. After we understand both sides we will be able to plug them into one another and come out with a clear understanding.

First let’s try to analyze what the Tachlis is of any Ma’aseh Mitzvah. There is an interesting Zohar that says that the six-hundred-and-thirteen Mitzvos are really TaRYaG Itin six-hundred-and-thirteen pieces of advice to bring Hashem more into my life. The definition is brought one step further by the Ramchal who explains that Mitzvos accomplish something called Zichuch HaGuf, purification of the body. By doing a Mitzva I bring more Ruchnius, more spirituality into my skin-cells, I bring more Kedusha, more holiness into my bones. I accomplish what many sfarim call Emunas Eivarim, I bring faith into my limbs. In essence, Ma’aseh Mitzvah equips me with a spiritual enhancement; Mizvos bring me to a higher quality of life, a loftier state of being.

Now we can move on to the second segment. We need to spell out the essence of Kidush HaChodesh. On the technical level the Mitzva of Kidush HaChodesh empowers the supreme-court to set exactly when the first day of the next month will be based on a recognition of the new moon. This is extremely important because it gives the court the ability to determine when any holiday will fall out. Let’s explain: if there is a holiday scheduled for the fifteenth, like Pesach for example, then determining when the first of the month is, effectively determines when the fifteenth will be. So Kidush HaChodesh is comprised of two parts: The first is the court pointing its finger to the moon and saying, “Hey! It’s new!” The recognition of renewal. The second is how, due to our recognition, how the month will play out.

There is powerful idea from Rebbe Nachman that we need to analyze. He says if I ever want to empower myself to serve Hashem better and to be closer to Him all I have to do is put myself in the mindset that I’ve never served HaKadosh Baruch Hu before. ‘I have to get up and do this Mitzva like it’s the first one I’ve ever done in my whole entire life!’ This is the Hischadshus, renewal, that we spoke about in the very beginning. I as a Jew have the constant power to refresh and to innovate to a whole new Avodas Hashem.

To tie all these ideas together we will use the parable of a soldier. Let’s take a low-ranking soldier; he peels potatoes. Let’s say after some time he does a meritorious act, gets a badge, and gets promoted to a combat soldier. He is on some level the same guy, but through this action he’s totally evolved as a soldier. Through his deeds he is changed on a number of levels: other people will look at him differently, he is going to look at himself differently, he is going to have bigger and better roles to play, and he is going to have better tools to carry those jobs out. Due to his merit, he is holding by a totally different place now.

Let’s tie this in with what we have said about Mitzvos. My Ma’aseh Mitzva, like we said before, changes the quality of my existence. But in context of all of this, I’m not just better, I’m a qualitatively different person before and after my Mitzvah, I’m now equipped with greater potential than I had a moment ago. I’m totally transformed!

This explains what we saw from Rebbe Nachman beautifully! Of course this is the first mitzvah I’m ever doing. Since my last Mitzvah, I’m a totally new person, and thus this is the first mitzvah I’ve ever done in this lifetime! It’s a totally new experience - like the soldier, I seem the same, but my spiritual responsibilities and capabilities are totally new! Now, after just one Ma’aseh Mitzva, I’ve moved into a new state of being. I’ve transformed myself, and through this I’ve given myself the ability to be even better. Like the soldier, I get new weapons, new tools, a smarter outlook and most importantly, more is expected of me.

Now we can plug it all back to Kiddush HaChodesh! The two parts of Kidush HaChodesh, (noticing the renewal and moving into the outcome) are the same two segments that are in every mitzvah! My ability to renew myself, and through this enter into a new level of holiness with all of its advantages parallel Kidush HaChodesh beautifully!

But the question is, how does this affect me? The answer is simple. Any time I’m stuck in a bad place with my Avodas Hashem, I’m literally only one Ma’aseh Mitzva away from a totally new life! I have to know that I can totally turn things around with just one Mitzva, that’s the most empowering things – the ability to totally shift into a new life is only one Mitzva away. I messed up this morning? Yesterday? This year? What if I’ve being messing up my whole life? Who cares? I'm starting again right now.

There is so much we can take from this. If we truly undertake this mindset, the cognizance of the fact that I really can always turn thing around, then there is no limits to the amount of growth we can achieve in our Avodas Hashem If we do this, then we will truly be able to live lives of meaning, lives of real happiness, lives of fulfillment, moving closer to the Creator, and ultimately the REDEMPTION!

A shiur that fits in well with Tzvi Moshe's beautiful words, here.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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