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Audio: Torah Tidbits Audio for Parshat Tazri’a-HaChodesh (m'vorchim)

Torah Tidbits Audio with Phil Chernofsky for Parshat Tazri"a-HaChodesh (m'vorchim)
3/28/2014, 7:41 AM

A7 Radio's "Torah Tidbits Audio" with Phil Chernofsky
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First came the idea - you'll read it soon. Then came a title: Place and Time... Again. Then came the current title. which we chose because those TTreaders who know what the expression means will have to explain it to those who don't. Some readers might not even know what an Asimon is, let alone what happens when it falls.
A bit more intro. Parshat HaChodesh means more Calendar talk - favorite subject with a lot to say about it; what can you expect.
But this will be different.
We start with the famous first Rashi of the Torah. Rabbi Yitzchak said: The Torah should have started with HACHODESH HAZEH LACHEM, the mitzva of the Jewish Calendar, the first mitzva commanded to the people of Israel. (This premise is based upon the notion that Torah is a book of mitzvot for Bnei Yisrael.)
So why start with B'REISHIT? That's the way Rashi proceeds.
The Torah starts with B'reishit to establish that G-d is the Boss. That He gives land to whom He decides, takes it away from whom He decides, and gives it further to whom He decides.
If AND WHEN, the nations of the world will call us thieves for conquering Eretz Yisrael, we simply point to the Torah and tell them that G-d created the world and He decided that Eretz Yisrael is the land of the Jewish People - forever.
That's the first Rashi. The Torah is more than a Book of Mitzvot.
But look at this. The mitzva of Kiddush HaChodesh, the mitzva of setting up the Jewish Calendar, involves Sanctification of Time. The leader of Sanhedrin doesn't just announce that today is Rosh Chodesh. He declares that today is holy. Rosh Chodesh is holy because we declared it so. (Of course, according to proper guidelines.)
G-d sanctified the Shabbat and commanded us to keep it. He commanded us to sanctify the Calendar and the Holy days therein.
Sanctity of Time is an amazing thing - but it needs a partner to be complete and significant. It needs the Sanctity of Place. And that is Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem and the Beit HaMikdash. Then we have a complete KEDUSHA.
And that's the message of B'reishit and of starting the Torah with it. G-d also sanctifies Place. Starting with the whole world, because He created it. Then comes the higher sanctity of Eretz Yisrael and the higher still sanctity of Jerusalem. And then that of Har HaBayit... and so on.
Interesting - though it doesn't prove anything - that Kiddush HaChodesh is the Torah's fourth mitzva and according to the Ramban, the fourth mitzva that he adds to the Rambam's count is the mitzva of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael. There's a lot more, but we hope you get the point.

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Phil Chernofsky is the educational director of the Orthodox Union's OU Israel Center in Jerusalem and editor of the Torah Tidbits parsha pamphlet. Since 1998, he has hosted Torah Tidbits Audio, a shiur on the weekly parsha with witty insights. It airs every Thursday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Israel time and is downloadable as a podcast on Israel National Radio. Phil made Aliyah to Israel over 30 years ago. He is the author of the newly released book And Every Single One Was Someone, a tribute to victims of the Holocaust.
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