The New Shul

Parshat Tazria/Shabbat Hahodesh

Shabbat Hahodesh is the Shabbat immediately before (or this year on) Rosh Hodesh Nisan. It takes its name from the special parashah that we read, about the instructions that the children of Israel received as they were preparing to leave Egypt. On the night before the Exodus, God taught us: “Hahodesh hazeh lakhem rosh hadashim — This month (literally this new moon) will be, for you, the beginning of months.” Henceforth we were to measure time from the new moon before our liberation, the beginning of the month of Nisan.

More generally, we learn from this passage that Jewish time is lunar time. The month of Nisan, like every Jewish month, begins with the renewal of the moon.

Why does the Torah insist that we measure time by the moon and not the sun? According to the Sfat Emet, it is to remind us that we — like the moon — have the power to bring light into the world even during times of darkness, when there is no sun. We have a source of light — the Torah itself– which helps us to find our way even when the world is at its most confusing and chaotic. The work of Jewish learning, of making Torah our own, is about making that deeper light burn more brightly in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

As we look toward the celebration of our freedom, may we remember what the purpose of our freedom is: to bring more light into the world.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush-lunch this Shabbat will be sponsored by the shul.
  • Childcare is available on Shabbat mornings from 10 am to noon.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday through Thursday evenings at 7 pm.