By Rabbi Dovid Markel
This Shabbos, in addition to reading the regular parsha, the portion of “HaChodesh,” which describes Nissan as the first month on the Jewish calendar, is read as well.
The Talmud (Shabbos 147b) recounts a story of a certain sage who, instead of reading the verse (Shemos 12:2) “Hachodesh hazeh lachem [This month shall be unto you, etc.], read “HaCharesh hayah libam [Their hearts were deaf].”
By changing just one letter in each word, he transformed the verse into a curse!
Chassidus explains that the intent of the words “HaChodesh hazeh lachem” are the very opposite of “HaCheresh hayah libam.” While the latter expresses a deafness to G-dliness, the former is expressive of spiritual renewal.
This idea comes to light from the fact that the word “haChodesh,” meaning “the month,” can also be read “haChadash,” which means “the new.” This is articulated in this that the Jewish months begin at the rebirth of the moon—which the Jewish people are compared to.
This renewal—especially in the first month of Nissan—is expressive of a spiritual renewal in a Jew’s service to G-d.
The Talmud (Sukka 29a) states: “When the sun is in eclipse it is a bad omen for idolaters; when the moon is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel, since Israel reckons by the moon and idolaters by the sun.”
Interestingly, today (29 Adar, 5775) there are three celestial events that are set to converge. The birth of the moon, the equinox—when the sun reaches the constellation of Teleh (Aries), where day and night are of equal lengths—and a solar eclipse.
While an eclipse of the sun is of negative significance to idolaters on any date, it is perhaps of particular significance when it falls out on the time of the equinox—the day which marks the Iranian New Year, signifying their strength—and especially during the birth of the month of Nissan, the day that marks beginning of a month of redemption for the Jewish people.
If the birth of the month of Nissan is auspicious during any year, it is all the more favorable when it covers the sun, which is expressive of the strength of Idolaters—particularly Iran.
May the Jewish People indeed have a spiritual renewal, a month of the ultimate redemption and may all the enemies of the Jewish people be utterly vanquished!