1. Today is Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Regarding the qualities of this day, Rashi relates at the beginning of the portion of Shemini:

Rosh Chodesh Nissan ... and it received ten “crowns” [it was distinguished in ten different ways] which are enumerated in Seder Olam.

This indicates that this Shabbos has not one, but ten, qualities and they are in the manner of crowns. A crown is not a plain garment but an adornment which gives beauty and splendor and is worn on the top of the head, the highest part of the body. A crown is also worn only by a king and thereby signifies the power of the monarchy.

This idea is naturally understood by the five-year-old Chumash student, with whom we study the Rashi, or discuss Rashi’s comment.

Study of the higher stages to Torah, e.g. Mishnah and Talmud, might depend on the parents’ ability to teach or to hire a teacher; it might also depend on the assiduousness of the child. But when it comes to studying Chumash and Rashi, which relay to us the simple meaning of the verse, from the days of Yehoshua Ben Gamla [a Kohen Gadol in the last era of the Second Beis HaMikdash], “It was established that each city shall appoint teachers for the young children.” Rich and poor alike have to teach their children the Scriptures with commentary. Thus, Rashi’s explanation is relevant to all. So when the five-year-old Chumash student will ask, “What is the reason that all these people are gathering today for a farbrengen?” his teacher will tell him that there are ten reasons: The ten qualities, or crowns, that the day of Rosh Chodesh Nissan acquired. The day then assumes the role of “ruler” or “king” for all the following days and months and these qualities express themselves every year on Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

Among the ten “crowns” taken by the day of Rosh Chodesh Nissan, we find in Seder Olam, that it was the first day of creation, meaning that the first day of Nissan in that year, occurred on a Sunday. This particular quality may not apply this year when Rosh Chodesh is on Shabbos, since the first day of creation has the opposite theme from Shabbos, which is the completion and cessation of creation.

Another quality mentioned about the first of Nissan is, that it was the beginning of the counting of the months. This is perfectly compatible with today’s Torah reading about the appointment of the month of Nissan as the chief among the months of the year.

Thus we can find a lesson in this juxtaposition of the reading of Shabbos HaChodesh with the qualities enumerated about this day of Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

In this chapter of HaChodesh we find two themes: (A) “This month (Nissan) shall be the chief month for you” — Rosh Chodesh Nissan; (B)

“Each man shall take a sheep for his family” details of the Korban Pesach (Pascal Sacrifice).

These two themes are closely related to the concept of redemption. We find in Midrash:

“This month shall be unto you ...,” when G‑d chose His world, He appointed New Moons [i.e. months] and years therein, and when he chose Yaakov and his sons, He appointed for them a New Moon of redemption in which Israel was redeemed from Egypt and in which they are destined to be redeemed again....” (Midrash Shmos 15:11)

Concerning the Pesach Sacrifice Rashi relates, “It is called Pesach in allusion to the springing and passing over” (Rashi on Shmos 12:11). In other words, the theme of the Pascal Sacrifice is the expression of the story of redemption.

Rosh Chodesh tells us that the true existence of the Jew is redemption and freedom. For from the time when G‑d chose Yaakov and his children He already chose and set a month of redemption. And the month was designated while they were, in fact, still slaves.

The theme of freedom is equally stressed in the case of the Korban Pesach, which, although eaten while still in bondage, nevertheless incorporated all the aspects of freedom. The manner of eating and the garments to be worn at the time of eating, i.e. shoes, staff, pack, all showed the readiness for redemption. This teaches us that in every place, at every time a Jew must always be in a state of redemption — freedom. And even though, “We are still servants of Achashverosh” (Megillah 14a), the true existence of a Jew — Yaakov and his sons — is redemption.

This feeling must permeate all our day to day activities so that even when a Jew eats, you see the power of freedom, just as the Pascal Sacrifice was eaten in a manner of freedom, which was obvious to all.

Let us contemplate for a moment the necessary details, enumerated in the Torah, for eating the Pesach:

And thus shall you eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste(Shmos 12:11)

We see that they were ready for the journey — ready and waiting for that split second to arrive, when the “time has come.”

Thinking about this scenario gives us a powerful lesson for today.

A Jew might think that since the redemption can come only by the will of G‑d, and as the previous Rebbe often said,

We were not exiled from our land willingly, and it is not in our power alone to return ... our Father our King ... He will redeem us .... if so, ostensibly, there remains nothing for the individual to do. On the contrary, he can lie back and sleep, or in the best situation he should study Torah, because that constitutes spiritual freedom even now.

So the Korban Pesach teaches us, that to fulfill the mitzvah of eating the Pesach one had to be “dressed” for the part, you must put on your shoes, gather up your coattails, and take your stick in hand to bring the redemption.

Therefore, even when one does mitzvos and studies Torah to perfection it is not enough, you must also wait with bated breath! Stand ready for the moment when Mashiach will come, and then leave the galus immediately.

Certainly even in the last moments of diaspora you must be devoted to your Torah study and to doing mitzvos, but at the same time you cannot be self-satisfied and complacent and just wait for the redemption to come. A Jew must do whatever is in his power to speed up the coming of the Mashiach. So much so, that he stands ready and waiting with staff in hand prepared to march out of the galus to the true geulah — redemption.

His bearing and attitude will show everyone that he is ready for redemption.

This thought is expressed by King Dovid in chap. 83: “Do not keep silent, O G‑d; do Your peace and be still, O G‑d.” After duty in Torah and mitzvos we turn to G‑d us out of the galus. Our attitude of anxious, impatient waiting will show all that:

Men may know, is the L‑rd, the world that You alone, whose name are the Most High over all (Tehillim 83)

In other words, our anxious anticipation is a clear indication to all of our hopes and desires.

The portion of HaChodesh teaches us that while still in galus we can be in a state of redemption — he eats in a manner of freedom. At the same time there is a longing and desire to leave the galus. He holds his breath and stands at attention waiting to be redeemed.

This lesson should be applied all year round in action. The Zohar says:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, looked into the Torah and created the world. People must fulfill the Torah and in that way they sustain the world.

This includes the world at large, as well as the microcosm — the person. The Rambam of course expresses the individual Jew’s relationship and responsibility to the world at large:

If he fulfills one commandment he turns the scale of merit in his favor and in that of the whole world, and brings salvation and deliverance to all his fellow creatures and to himself. (Laws of Repentance 3:8)

By acting in this manner we will quickly merit the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

2. The Zohar says that each day has a special function to be performed, meaning that each day there is a unique Divine service to be performed and a special quality connected with it. Additionally, for this particular attribute, that specific day serves as a “gateway” for all previous time to elevate all aspects connected to it.

Although it was mentioned earlier that when Rosh Chodesh Nissan occurs on Shabbos we apparently lose the attribute associated with the start of creation, which it has when it falls on Sunday, nevertheless this setting also has a special quality and function which is unique to it.

In this case, when Rosh Chodesh comes on Shabbos, it emphasizes the miraculous aspect of Pesach which is a common factor of Shabbos and Pesach.

Chassidus teaches that the month of Tishrei, the time of creation, is related to the normal, natural phenomena and Nissan, the time of the Exodus, is related to supernatural occurrences. Furthermore, supernatural occurrences represent a loftier realm of activity than natural phenomena, even when the natural event involves creation ex nihilo. Consequently, the quality of Sunday which embodies the initiation of creation ex nihilo nevertheless also includes the implication and conference of order and limitation as part of the creation process. The quality of Shabbos is the transcendence of the restrictions of nature — similar to the Exodus from Egypt, loftier than creating matter from nothing.

The goal of the Exodus being to “... serve G‑d on this mountain ...,” it follows that the Exodus is connected to Torah, which is also associated with Shabbos, as the Gemara says: “All agree that the Torah was given on Shabbos” (Shabbos 86b).

Thus there is a clear distinction between-the “first day of creation” and Shabbos, parallel to the distinction between (natural) creation [Tishrei] and (supernatural) Exodus [Nissan].

Any ordinary person sees that a person spends the majority of his weekday time on worldly matters, such as earning a living. Only a small segment of the day is dedicated to Torah study: a bit in the morning, a bit at night.

Of course an individual’s involvement in mundane matters is in accordance with the commandments of the Torah: “Watch yourselves very carefully” (Devarim 4:15), and “... he may not diminish allowance, clothing or conjugal rights” (Shmos 21:10), or as the Mechilta explains: “You shall work for six days ... this is a positive commandment.

In this mode of activity however, the Jew appears to live a lifestyle similar to the non-Jew, being that both are involved in mundane matters. The inner intentions of the Jew, which may be loftier or more spiritual, are not apparent in the day to day work week.

On Shabbos however, “All your work is already done” (Rashi on Shmos 20:9). You can devote all the moments of Shabbos to serving your Creator with Torah and holy matters. You are “freed” from the regulations of the weekdays and Matan Torah is revealed for you; the quality of Jewish life is revealed and exalted. As the Shulchan Aruch says:

When one recites the words ... “You have chosen us from among all nations and tongues ...,” he should recall the Giving of the Torah. (Shulchan Aruch Harav 0. Ch. 306:8)

Thus the quality of the Jewish people over the gentile nations is evident mainly on Shabbos.

When we examine these subjects more closely and carefully we find different details and levels. For example, we will find the aspect of Shabbos existing in the weekdays and an aspect of the weekdays creeps into the Shabbos. Thus when one prays or studies Torah on a plain Monday he is on the level of “Shabbos in Monday.”

On the other hand while Shabbos signifies transcending the limitations of nature, it is still connected to the natural proceedings of the days of the week (natural sequence) so that first one must experience the rest and relaxation from the rigors of the preceding work days, and only then can one reach the more lofty and essential relaxation and repose on the highest level, at the time of greatest delight — Shabbos afternoon.

Similarly during the month of Nissan, which conveys the theme of miracles, there are miraculous events which are “clothed” in a natural setting and there are miracles which are openly earth-shattering and sea-splitting.

In this light we can say that when Rosh Chodesh Nissan falls on Sunday or any weekday then the month will be miraculous in a “natural” way, and when Rosh Chodesh Nissan is on Shabbos the miracles will be doubled, magnified and revealed.

What lesson can we derive from this setting of Rosh Chodesh on Shabbos?

In general the Divine service of Nissan is to work for the redemption even while we are still in exile. This is exemplified by the work of disseminating the wellsprings of Torah to the outside. We must influence every Jew to be ready for the redemption — for no one will be redeemed if even one Jew stays behind. Even Moshe could not go free until all Jews marched out of Egypt, including those who carried the Idol of Michah!

Now, when Rosh Chodesh Nissan occurs on Shabbos, we must be involved in the dissemination of Torah in a miraculous way. How?

On several occasions we have discussed the importance of the aphorism: “... disseminating the wellsprings to the outside.” It is not enough for the water to reach the outside, but the well itself must move outside!

This concept is often overlooked, that only when the wellspring moves outside is it involved in the dissemination work. For when it remains in its place — then only the water spreads out. How do you get the wellsprings involved in dissemination work? by moving it outside!

This pinpoints the idea that disseminating the wellsprings means to transform the existence of the outside and make it a wellspring and source of living water. No small feat! For the “wellspring” and “outside” are basically opposites, a transformation of this magnitude enters the realm of the supernatural.

It is beyond the normal spiritual requirements of Torah. Nowhere do we find the rule that we must encircle a Public Domain [Reshus Harabim] and change it to a Private Domain (Reshus Hayachid) in order to return a lost object on Shabbos.

Similarly, when a Jewish soul is lost we must do what we can to return the Jew to his Father, the Creator. But we don’t have to convert the whole world!

If so, by demanding that the wellspring must go out to the outside and convert the outside to become a wellspring, and by the way, to attract the lost Jew back to G‑d and Torah, this is a miraculous act of the magnitude of Nissan.

Now, when the Rosh Chodesh of Nissan occurs on a weekday, then in order to effectuate the miraculous results of transformation, the person must condition himself and exert his super, esoteric powers in a manner of first converting and reforming his own externalities. His effort must be intense in order to effect the change from “external” to “source.”

But when Rosh Chodesh is on Shabbos, then this power is bestowed from above, as if automatically, he needs no special exertion; the Shabbos places him in a supernatural position; he only has to move his small finger to accomplish his goal.

Earlier we spoke of the previous Rebbe’s call to “... stand together ready” to greet the exodus. The concept of being truly ready is associated with Shabbos, when all preparations are concluded and all your work is done before sunset — you are truly ready! Thus the Shabbos prepares us also for the ultimate redemption.

The Torah reading of Vayikra adds another facet to this lesson. The term Vayikra [and He called] is presented without a subject — no Name of G‑d appears. Why? Because it stems from a source which is higher even than the supernal level of Names of G‑d. Yet there is a call, and it is described as a call of preciousness. Now the call was to Moshe, but we can isolate the call and understand it independently as a call to every Jew. Or, since G‑d’s dialogue with Moshe was because of His love for the Jews, indirectly it is a call to, or about, every Jew.

Thus, Vayikra reminds us of the great love of G‑d for every Jew, so much so, that the call originates on the level of the esoteric above the point of names. Which conveys to us an amazing lesson in the work of disseminating the teachings of Torah and Chassidus. When you are involved in bringing Jews closer to Torah and you go out to fulfill the mission of the Moshe of our generation, the Nasi, you should remember that your preciousness before G‑d is not based on your importance, rather it is because of those Jews you are reaching out to! Just as Moshe himself was told, “I have given you greatness ... on account of the Jews,” including even the lost sheep, which has to be followed and brought back to the fold.

The practice is of the essence, and everyone should increase his efforts in spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit. to chase quickly after Jews who are outside, in order to return them to be close to their Father in Heaven. As a result of which G‑d will act in kind, and rush to redeem the Jewish people and certainly all the Jews will rush to greet Mashiach and together we will rush to the future redemption.

This is not a contradiction to the verse: “In ease and rest you shall be saved,” for that refers to the extension of the time of Mashiach’s redemption

We will all ascend on the clouds of heaven and rise to our Holy Land, to Yerushalayim the Holy City and to the Third Beis HaMikdash. Quickly and speedily, “I will hasten it,” and immediately they are redeemed.

3. In introducing the Rashi commentary we should note that from the plain meaning of Scripture it is evident that this week’s Torah portion — Vayikra — took place in immediate sequence to the end of the book of Shmos — the portion of Pekudei. It was the first day of the first month, Nissan, and Moshe built the Tabernacle and the Shechinah came to rest on the Communion Tent. Later in the day, “Vayikra” — G‑d called to Moshe, he entered and received the word of G‑d. All this on the first of Nissan. This was also the day on which the office of Kohen Gadol was instituted and so it is appropriate that in the portion of Vayikra there should be laws relating specifically to a Kohen Gadol.

In chapter four of Vayikra the Torah teaches us of the sacrifices which must be offered for sins committed inadvertently:

Speak to the Jewish people and tell them the following. [This is the law] if an individual commits an inadvertent sin by violating certain specified prohibitory commandments of G‑d. If the anointed Kohen [Kohen Gadol] commits an [inadvertent] violation, bringing guilt to his people....

Further on the Torah continues:

If the entire community of Israel commits an inadvertent violation as a result of the truth being hidden from the congregation’s eyes ... If the leader (Nasi) commits a sin ... [and finally:] If a commoner commits an inadvertent violation by violating any one of certain [specified] prohibitory commandments of G‑d....

Now since the chapter discusses the law of an individual who commits an inadvertent sin, by right it should deal first with the most common possibility, which would be the sin of the “commoner,” following that it should discuss the laws of the “leader,” “entire community” and “Kohen Gadol.” Why does the sequence begin with Kohen Gadol and go backwards? The question is compounded when we read Rashi’s comments:

.. he is liable to bring a sin offering only when there was ignorance of the real matter [he came to a wrong decision] together with a mistaken action [and as a result of his error of judgment he acted against the true law].

Such a scenario is a very remote possibility. Even the five-year-old Chumash student knows that the Kohen Gadol had to be a scholar and certainly so regarding the first anointed Kohen — Aharon — to whom Moshe would have taught this first law of the Kohen Gadol. This same child is also aware of the general rule, that a case which happens more frequently is dealt with first. So he expects to hear of the law of a sin offering, first for one who is more apt to sin more often, and after discussing the frequent sinner the Torah should mention the Kohen Gadol. Surprisingly, Rashi ignores this question, although the difficulty is present in the simple and fundamental understanding of the verse.

Another question comes to light here on Rashi’s interpretation. Let us read the Rashi:

“If the Kohen Gadol commits an inadvertent violation, bringing guilt to his people....” Its Midrashic interpretation is that he is liable only when there was ignorance of the-real matter together with a mistaken action, just as it is stated “as a result of [the truth] being hidden from the congregation’s eyes and they have done.” Its literal sense [plain meaning] is according to the Aggadic explanation: When the Kohen Gadol sins this is the guilt of the people, because they are dependent on him to effect atonement for them and to pray on their behalf, and now he himself has become degenerate [how can he expiate for them; so their guilt remains on them].

The five-year-old Chumash student ponders over this Rashi. At the beginning of Bereishis Rashi stated that “I come only to give the plain meaning of Scripture,” then why does Rashi in fact here first give a “Midrashic” commentary, when in fact he later does give the plain meaning? By right, first Rashi should explain the plain meaning and only then — if necessary — should he add any Midrashic commentary.

In the first verse of Vayikra we will find another difficulty. Read the Rashi:

“And [the L‑rd] called unto Moshe...” all oral communications of the L‑rd to Moshe whether they are introduced by “spoke” or “said” or “commanded,” were preceded by a call. It is a way of expressing affection.... One might think that for the subsections there was also such a call [after the intermissions]. It, however, states: “... and He spoke,” — a complete section had a call [preceding it], but not the subsections. And what purpose did these subsections serve? To give Moshe an interval for reflection between one division and another and between one subject-and another — something — which is all the more necessary for an ordinary man [student] receiving instruction from an ordinary man [teacher].

For what reason does Rashi add the observation, “... all the more necessary etc.”? What does this add to the simple meaning of this verse? The explanation for the “breaks,” that they helped Moshe comprehend — this makes sense, because the five-year-old knows that one must constantly learn (possibly without intermission), so if there is a break, we must know its purpose. But why do we need an a fortiori deduction about ordinary people? It adds nothing to the simple meaning of the sentences!

We may approach the explanation of Rashi by first reexamining the axiom that the five-year-old student knows about dealing with the more frequent cases first. While this may be true, there is however, another rule which says that when we have a new subject at hand it should be given priority. In our case the concept of Kohen Gadol was new — the office was just created on that day. Therefore Rashi need not give us an explanation for the order; even the young student will realize that the freshness of the matter motivated the Torah to teach it first. Once the Torah started with the Kohen Gadol the logical sequence is, “Nasi,” “whole congregation” and then “commoner.”

We might also take a different approach. Even the young Chumash scholar is always patient to wait till the end of a subject before jumping to conclusions. He already knows that often the answer comes later on. Here too, let us see what follows the case of the sin offering for the commoner, the Law of the Adjustable Guilt Offering. Now, just as we have a rule that the more frequent matter is dealt with first, we have another axiom, that the Torah juxtaposes laws and cases that have common aspects. The adjustable guilt offering applies only for a commoner, not a Kohen Gadol. If so, it changes the priority. The Torah would rather place the guilt offering of the commoner after Kohen Gadol, Nasi and whole congregation in order to juxtapose it next to the adjustable guilt offering, with which it has more in common

Our question on why Rashi chooses the Midrashic interpretation first, we will leave to the participants in this farbrengen as a test of: “Give to the wise man and he will increase wisdom.

We remain with the problem, for what purpose did Rashi add the clause “... all the more necessary for an ordinary man...”?

This too, will be understood by prefacing another axiom which every five-year-old Chumash student already knows, namely, that the Torah is careful not to say a bad word about anyone — even an animal. To quote the Gemara: “Scripture did not speak disparagingly of an unclean animal” (B. Basra 123a). This is surely true in the case of a Jew — unless there is an absolute necessity to teach a clear halachah or lesson, as in the case of the Golden Calf, or the person who gathered wand an Shabbos in the desert.

If so, when we see Rashi state that the subsections gave Moshe a chance to absorb the teachings, we wonder why Rashi had to mention something which is disparaging to Moshe. After four or five verses he needed time to stop and contemplate!? Therefore Rashi tells us that the intention of Torah is to teach us how our study should progress. The five-year-old must learn from Moshe, a fortiori, that he cannot rush on after learning a verse — even Moshe didn’t — and he was so great a student, learning from the super teacher!

Rashi tells the young student: Learn from Moshe, and take a few moments to absorb and digest your studies — you need the “breaks” to contemplate and reach the deeper meaning of what you learn

In a sense, Rashi says that Moshe Rabbeinu is ready to forego his honor and directs Rashi to use him as an example to the young students of all generations, that they must learn how to study Torah properly. Which emphasizes for us once again the importance of studying and understanding every word and nuance of our great teacher, Rashi.

4. Another subject connected with Rosh Chodesh is the theme of the Haftorah read this morning for Shabbos HaChodesh, from the book of Yechezkel chap. 45:18:

In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bullock without blemish ... and upon that day shall the Prince [Nasi] prepare for himself ... a bullock ... etc.

It has been taught by the commentaries that this prophecy of Yechezkel speaks of the time of Mashiach and the Third Beis HaMikdash. The Rambam also rules this in the Laws of the Manner of Offering:

The prophet was ... explaining how the consecration offerings would be offered at the dedication of the Altar in the days of the King Mashiach, when the Third Temple will be built.

This is a bit puzzling. Since the prophecy in fact was spoken during the exile period between the First and Second Temples, how was it possible that during the existence of the Second Temple these verses were interpreted as relating to a later Third Temple, which would be built after the Second Temple would be destroyed? It simply does not make sense. Later, when the Second Temple was in fact destroyed, and the prophecy of Yechezkel had not been fulfilled it became clear that the prophet’s words were to come true in the times of Mashiach. But how did they know this during the Second Temple?

Specifically, why did they not do the specific services explained and described in the words of Yechezkel during the Second Temple? We find no other prophecy limiting the relevance of Yechezkal’s words to the time of Mashiach

Although in building the Second Temple they did not follow exactly the plans of Yechezkel, as the Rambam writes:

.. those who built the Second Temple in the days of Ezra followed the pattern of Shlomo’s Temple and adapted some of the particulars described in Yechezkel. (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Temple 1:4)

The reason for this was that they were restricted by royal overlords and overseers from Cyrus and then Achashverosh. But no one told them how to conduct the service in the Temple!?

When we consider too, the Midrashic teaching, that if the Jews had been meritorious enough, the exodus of Ezra would have ushered in the ultimate Messianic Age and the-Second Temple would not have been destroyed, we are more perplexed.

Why did they not conduct themselves according to the prophecy of Yechezkel during the Second Temple?

May G‑d grant that in the merit of our study and discussion of matters pertaining to the Third Temple we will merit to see the fulfillment of the promise and the actual building of the Third Temple speedily in our days.

The prophecy of Yechezkel relating to the sacrifices of the first day of the month of Nissan also brings to mind the sacrifices of the 12 tribal Princes [Nesi’im] which commenced on the first day of Nissan. This concept of the sacrifices of the 12 Princes presents us with the theme of 12 avenues and facets of Divine service. The first Prince was Nachshon ben Aminadav who represented the theme of martyrdom (for he was the first to plunge into the Sea of Reeds), the second Prince from the Tribe of Yissachar represented the Divine service of Torah study. The third Prince was from the Tribe of Zevulun, who were the supporters of Torah, and so on. The connection of the individual Princes with the Tabernacle indicates the idea of permanence and continuity, that each was given the power of the whole to continue in his own particular work of Divine service, with the strength of the Tabernacle.

From this Rosh Chodesh which was crowned with Ten Crowns and connected to the Seven Days of Initiation, and the eighth day of initiation, may we merit very soon to the building and dedication of the Third Beis HaMikdash, when there will be a harp of seven strings, a harp of eight strings and even one of ten strings. May it be speedily and truly in our time.