What is the first gift we received from G-d?

Sanctity of time – G-d’s gift to His People.

Contact Editor
Phil Chernofsky,

Flash 90


As is well known, Parshat Bo contains the first mitzva that was given to the People of Israel - even before they left Egypt.

Sequentially, HACHODESH HAZEH LACHEM is the fourth mitzva in the Torah, but the first three are commands to each individual. Kiddush HaChodesh - the setting up of the Jewish Calendar, is a national mitzva.

Without going into too much detail, let's say that there are TWO distinct sets of rules for making our calendar - Plan A for when we have a Sanhedrin (past AND future), and Plan B for when we are without a Sanhedrin.

Plan A involves a committee of Sanhedrin members who are experts in astronomy, as well as halacha, the eye-witness testimony of at least two kosher witnesses to the first visibility of the Lunasr crescent, the proclamation - based on the testimony - of the day as Holy, i.e. Rosh Chodesh, and a system of notification. Another committee of judges meets each year to determine whether the year will have a second Adar or not. Notification concerning the extra month can be made only after Rosh HaShana of the given year, usually at the beginning of Adar, and occasionally at the end of Adar.

Again, without too much details, Plan A relies on people, and mistakes are possible. Cloudy nights complicate matters. So do unreliable sightings. If Rosh Chodesh is erroneously declared on the wrong day, G-d changes His calendar, so to speak, to conform to our less than perfect one.

Plan B does a good job at setting up the calendar. We don't need to see the Moon - we follow a precise mathe- matical formula. Years are set, months, holidays, two Adar years - all with perfect accuracy (within the parameters of the Plan, but not necessarily with the astronomy involved). And, everything is known or can be known, years in advance.

Our fixed calendar based on Plan B is relatively simple, neat, error-free. Sort of like the Happy Birthday on the right. But it lacks the personal touch.

With Plan A, we are partners with HaShem in our national calendar and all the Holy Days thereon. No doubt, that G-d prefers the Plan A calendar.

Therefore, when we joyfully say and sing Rosh Chodesh benching on the Shabbat before R"Ch, and when we joyfully sing Hallel and enjoy a special R"Ch meal or treat, and when we joyously dance during Kiddush L'vana - we should also feel a bid sad for what we lack, and hopeful for the Geula and the restoration of Plan A and everything else that accompanies it.