Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron
Cave of the Patriarchs in HevronFlash 90

We read in the last parasha in the Book of Exodus, ’Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:’On the day of the first new moon, on the first of the month, you shall erect the Mishkan’.

And, further:(40:17)’’It was in the first month of the second year on the first of the month that the Mishkan was erected’.

The Midrash Rabba provides an intriguing insight into this wondrous event:’Moshe Rabbeinu was occupied with the Mishkan for six months before it was finally erected: three months in its making, and for three months it was ‘folded’. This led the scoffers to mock him, saying: Behold it has been completed, and didn’t Moshe say that the Shechina would reside in it?

‘But Hashem intended that it be erected in the month in which Yitzchak Avinu was born, and, as soon as that moment arrived, Hashem said to Moshe:’On the first day of the first new shall erect the Mishkan’- and, on that day, ‘Moshe erected the Mishkan’.

Rav Yosef Salant asks, on this Midrash:’Why was it necessary that Yitzchak be born in that month, for Nissan to be chosen as he month for the erection of the Mishkan?

Did that month not already have the great distinction that it was the month of the exodus from Egypt, and for which reason the Torah wrote:(Bo 12:2)’’This month shall be for you the first of months of the year’.

‘Why, then, was there a need the further reason of the Binding of Yitzchak, more than, say, the month in which our other Avot, Avraham and Yaakov, were born, which was Tishrei?

‘Answer: Since once the Mishkan was erected, animal offerings began to be offered, and, as the Ramban expounds, the purpose of these offerings was that the offeror should imagine that all that was being done to the animal, should, but for the grace of Hashem.

‘The only one of the Avot who truly offered himself up on the altar, was Yitzchak Avinu.

‘For this reason, Hashem chose that His people should start their animal offerings in the month that Yitzchak was born, so that all who brought such offerings thereafter, would have the same pure intention, when making their offerings, as did our forefather, Yitzchak- and that their offerings would then be acceptable as ריח ניחוח: a ‘sweet smell’ to Him.’

The Shem miShmuel offers a different reason for the choice of Nissan for the erection of the Mishkan.

He expounds:’Nissan is the month of renewal, being the month in which Bnei Israel went from slavery to freedom.

‘It was therefore the most appropriate month for the erection of the Mishkan, through which transgressors found spiritual renewal.

‘Yitzchak Avinu, due to his birth in this month, more than the other Avot, represents this attribute, which he, in turn, transmitted as a legacy to his descendants.’

The S’fat Emet expounds the passuk:(Bo 12:2), relating to the month of Nissan: החודש הזה: literally ‘this month’, as החדש הזה: this new thing, reflecting the special power of renewal with which this month is imbued, as it is the month in which we went from slavery- when there was no power of renewal - to freedom.

Rav Shimon Schwab offers yet another answer to our question:’The Midrash Rabba expounds the passuk, that Yitzchak’s mother, Sarah Imenu said, on receiving the glad tidings of his birth:’All who hear, will ‘laugh’’, as: the birth of my son, Yitzchak, will bring great joy to all the world; imdeed, in its merit, barren women, gave birth , and many of those who were dumb were cured, as were many who were blind.

‘This is why Hashem, who wanted the erection of the Mishkan to be a source of great joy to all the world, chose it to be in the month of the universal joy, for the birth of Yitzchak.’

A final, further answer, as to why Hashem chose the month of Nissan to be the most appropriate month for erection of the Mishkan, because it was the month in which Yitzchak Avinu was born, is given by Rav David Hofstedter:’Our Sages teach that the calf that Aaron offered on the day ofthe erection of the Mishkan, was to evoke the merit of the binding of Yitzchak Avinu, reminiscent of the offering of an animal on the altar, in his willingness to be moser nefesh, to Hashem.

‘Why was there a need for this? Because, as our Sages teach, זה לעומת זה עשה ה׳: ‘This compared to this, Hashem made’- the powers of טומאה: impurity, are given in direct equivalence to the powers of קדושה: of sanctity.

‘Therefore, as on the day of the erection of the Mishkan, the powers of קדושה would be at a very lofty level, so too would the opposing powers of טומאה.

‘To tilt the ‘balance’ in favor of the powers of קדושה, the special merit of the month in which Yitzchak Avinu ‘offered his soul’, was born, Nissan, was chosen.

‘In the lyrical words of our Sages, this was ‘to give into the mouth of the Satan’: to silence him, so that he would not be able to speak against them.’

A concluding insight from Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch:’In Judaism ראשי חדשים: the ‘heads’ of the months, are not to commemorate the astronomical event, but to awaken us, from this natural phenomena, to renew ourselves, like the moon, in all spheres of our lives.’

Danny Ginsbourg is a lawyer who made aliya from Australia a decade ago. He has written five volumes of Torah thoughts in Hebrew,and was awarded the Jerusalem Prize.for the two volume Davsha shel Torah to which there are already several sequels. A collection of his articles on Arutz Sheva is to be published in the near future.

לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.