Exodus

Re'eh: Springtime

"Guard the month of the spring and make Pesach to the Lord your G-d, because it was in the month of the spring that the Lord your G-d took you out of Egypt at night" (Devarim 16:1). Based on this verse, our rabbis derived that we must fix our calendar so that Pesach always falls in the spring. Our holidays celebrate both momentous events in Jewish history and the blessing of agriculture, acknowledging that the G-d of Creation and  the G-d of History are one--a point many in the ancient world did not accept.

Emor: G-d's Name

Of all possible wrongdoings, only one does not allow for the possibility of teshuva, repentance. Causing a chilul Hashem, a desecration of G-d's name, is not something for which one can just say sorry, promise never to do it again, and move on. The lingering effects of desecrating G-d's name do not go away just because one is sorry. Thus, Maimonides (Teshuva 1:4) writes that it is only upon death that repentance might be obtained. If chilul Hashem is so severe, it follows that kiddush Hashem, the sanctification of G-d's name, would be the greatest of mitzvot.

Bo: Moonlight

In his opening comment on the Bible, Rashi links the Creation story to that of the Exodus. Working on the assumption that the Torah is primarily a book of law, Rashi famously asks why the Torah does not begin with the first law given to the Jewish people, that of establishing a calendar. “And G-d spoke to Moshe and Aaron in the land of Egypt. This month [Nissan] shall be the head of months, the first to you of the months of the year” (12:1-2).

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