The Triad of Renewal
The first lesson is that contrary to the belief of some, the Messianic Age is not an age of rest and retirement.
A Rare Occasion
It’s a rare occasion when we read different Torah selections from three separate Torah scrolls on one Shabbos. This Shabbos is one of those rare occasions. Every Simchas Torah we read from three Torah scrolls. In some years we read from three Torah scrolls during Chanukah, when Chanukah, Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh coincide.
This Shabbos, the first Torah scroll is used for the weekly parsha, Tazria. The second Torah is used for the selection read every Rosh Chodesh (first day and head of the new month), inasmuch as this Shabbos coincides with Rosh Chodesh Nissan (the Head of the Month of Nissan). The third Torah is used to read parshas Hachodesh, one of the four special Torah readings read from the beginning of the month of Adar through the beginning of Nissan.
The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything that happens is by Divine Providence. Certainly the rare confluence of these three Torah readings must not be an accident but part of G-d’s design to teach us lessons in our spiritual lives notwithstanding the disparate themes found in these three Torah readings.
The weekly portion, Tazria, concerns the beginning of life and the beginning of one’s connection to G-d through circumcision:
“If a woman conceives and gives birth… On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin should be circumcised.”
Rosh Chodesh is the beginning of each Hebrew month, when the new moon first appears.
Parshas Hachodesh designates the month of Nissan as the first month of the year.
Hence, all three portions are about beginnings.
Tazria: the beginning of life.
Rosh Chodesh: the beginning of the monthly lunar cycle.
Parshas Hachodesh: the beginning of a new annual cycle.
Metaphors for the Final Redemption
All three relate to the Final Redemption, the birth of a new age of knowledge and spirituality.
Indeed, the Exodus from Egypt, the paradigm for Redemption, is described in the Book of Ezekiel as the birth of the Jewish people.
The Final Redemption has been likened to Rosh Chodesh, which marks the new moon.
Parshas Hachodesh, which highlights the month of Nissan, is associated with the Messianic Era. The parsha begins with the three words: “Hachodesh hazeh lachem-This month shall be unto you.” These words have a numerical value equivalent to the words “Moshiach ben Dovid.” Moreover, our Sages state that the Jews were liberated in the month of Nissan and they will again be liberated in the month of Nissan.
[It should be noted that this does not mean that Moshiach cannot come in any other month. Rather it suggests that the month of Nissan is the most opportune time for Moshiach to arrive.]
The Three Lessons
What is the basic message that we must learn from Rosh Chodesh and parshas Hachodesh with their connection to Tazria?
The Rebbe once explained that the general message from every Rosh Chodesh is that no matter how much we accomplished in the past month, the arrival of Rosh Chodesh beckons us to renew our efforts; it is as if we had accomplished nothing until now.
If this is the message from every Rosh Chodesh, what additional message can be derived from parshas Hachodesh which, as stated above, discusses the month of Nissan as the first of the month of the year?
The Rebbe explains that the lesson of renewal that can be derived from each and every Rosh Chodesh is particularly true for the month of Nissan. To illustrate this point, the Rebbe cites the law that when sacrifices were offered in the Bais Hamikdash, they were purchased with the Half-Shekel every Jew had to contribute. When Nissan arrived, they had to purchase the sacrifices from the newly contributed half-shekels given in the preceding month of Adar and not from the shekels left over from the prior year’s fund.
Why is This Month Different From All the Other Months of the Year?
The question still remains: We already know the importance of renewing our efforts from the general lesson of Rosh Chodesh, what more can be learned from the renewal of Nissan in particular? To paraphrase the Haggadah: “Why is this month of Nissan different from all the other months of the year?
The Rebbe answers that there are in fact two types of renewal: The first is incremental. Jews must never stay in one place in terms of their relationship with G-d. The Psalmist (84:8) declares: “They go from strength to strength…” However, the steps one takes to do so may be incremental.
The second manner of growth and renewal is better described as exponential and is therefore likened to jumping. When we jump we are completely removed from the place from which we jumped. This is the dimension of growth associated with the redemptive month of Nissan.
Indeed, the Exodus from Egypt is likened to jumping. In the Song of Songs (2:8) King Solomon says: “The voice of My Beloved! He comes, leaping over the mountains, skipping over the hills.” This verse, our Sages state, alludes to the Exodus from Egypt.
So, while every Rosh Chodesh challenges us to renew our efforts, parshas Hachodesh, with its focus on Nissan, summons us to not just walk and run but to jump.
Jump with Others
The Rebbe then addressed the question how does the above connect to the name of this week’s parsha, Tazria?
The Rebbe answers by stating that even jumping in our spiritual lives is not sufficient. We cannot be satisfied with our own growth alone.
The Rebbe then addresses the question, why is the parsha Tazria read before parshas Hachodesh?
The lesson is that not only do we have to renew our efforts every month and “jump” during the month of Nissan but we also have to bring others into our sphere of growth. The positive things we do cannot remain “sterile;” our actions must be “procreative.”
While it is obvious that we are commanded to teach and influence others to go in the right path, we must go beyond that. The juxtaposition of Tazria, which denotes conception and birth, to Rosh Chodesh and parshas Hachodesh exhorts us to share our own spirit of renewal and “jumping” with others.
In the Rebbe’s words: “The commandment to love others as yourselves demands of us to influence our fellow to also love others as themselves.” Whatever high standards we maintain we must instill and support in others.
Connection to Moshiach
We now have to understand how the above relates to the coming of Moshiach, which, as stated above is hinted in the opening words of parshas Hachodesh.
The first lesson is that contrary to the belief of some, the Messianic Age is not an age of rest and retirement. While there will be universal peace and prosperity that does not mean that we can just sit back idly and enjoy life. The Messianic Age will challenge us to keep on growing. Moreover, that growth will not be incremental but exponential; we will be “jumping” and dancing with joy and enthusiasm.