Matter & Spirit – The Blog

18 בMarch 2015

Advantage vs. Disadvantage


As we scour the house for chametz (and paint and change over closets from winter to summer and spring clean and do a million other activities that have nothing whatsoever to do with clearing away chametz but have become part and parcel of Pesach cleaning, because if not now, then when?!) I hereby dedicate this week’s post to Parshat Hachodesh. This week’s parsha is called after the Maftir read in honor of Rosh Chodesh Nissan that falls on Shabbat and begins with the words, “Hachodesh hazeh lachem rosh chodashim – This month for you is the first of the months…” (Shemot 12, 2) This verse is not merely a time marker but actually an imperative mitzvah: It is the first mitzvah that  Hashem commanded Bnei Yisrael through Moshe…for generations… The explanation [of the words] ‘Hachodesh hazeh lachem rosh chodashim – This month for you is the first of the months’ is that Yisrael should count it first when counting the months and enumerate the following months after it – second, third, etc. until the end of twelve months, to commemorate the great miracle [of the Exodus]. For every time that we mention the months, the miracle will be mentioned; and it is because of this that the months have no names in the Torah and are merely enumerated as [for example] ‘the third month.’ This is the explanation of the [words] ‘Rishon hu lachem – It is first for you.’ It is not the first [month] in the year, but it is first for you, as it commemorates our redemption (Ramba”n). We count the months of the year beginning with Nissan is in order to commemorate the great miracle of our exodus from Egypt.

Happy New Year – A Jewish calendar approach

The Torah calls the months of the year not by name, but by number – the first month, the second month, etc. The common names of the Jewish calendar months – Nissan, Iyar, Sivan, etc. – were actually adopted from our years in exile, as the Sages taught, “The names of the month returned with us from Babylon” (Yerushalmi Rosh Hashana 1; Bereishis Rabba 48:9). Regardless of their names, the Jewish month begins when the moon is reborn and concludes when the light of the moon disappears. This miracle of nature as we perceive it occurs precisely once a month.

 Dynamically changing

The moon, like most females in the world, doesn’t retain a fixed shape, but rather rounds out and slims down, altering its form constantly from a banana-crescent to a perfect circle and back to the banana. The Midrash in Bereishit regarding the moon teaches that it was diminished in size, and this reduction was good – just like a diminished waist size!

 Less is more

I mentioned this slogan previously in Parshat Mishpatim when presenting my list of design rules and regulations. This time, I’m not only citing it, but I’m actually going to implement it!

Just like the moon intentionally diminishes itself fifty percent of the time, there are aspects in design when the goal is to reduce. Cut down. Clear out. Diminish. Break walls in order to open a doorway. Trash a piece of furniture. Remove a picture from the wall. Minimize the number of kitchen cabinets.

Often what’s best is to remove something, uproot it and separate it in order to allow something else beautiful to grow and flourish. Emotionally, this can be difficult. Many items have sentimental value. For this reason, we don’t just toss things out indiscriminately; we think twice. But when getting rid of something is the right thing to do, we suddenly open our lives to a new expanse of space!

 “V’hotzeiti v’hitzalti  – And I shall take you out and save you.”

Rosh Chodesh Nissan has become a catchphrase for Jewish women the world over. It’s the day to start panicking and wondering how you’ll ever get things done. It’s the day to start sorting, classifying and categorizing to decide what should stay and what should go? What can be passed on to others? Just because it’s extra for me, doesn’t mean that somebody else can’t enjoy it. It’s a day to consider what I once viewed as an advantage, but with the passage of years, has turned into disadvantage that’s occupying important space in my house. Or perhaps something that, until now, has been perceived a disadvantaged can be filled and renewed…

I hope you’ve enjoyed my minimalistic post today, and I leave it to you to figure out what spaces in your house and lives can be cleared out!

Wishing you all chodesh tov and good luck with the preparations!  Who knows? Maybe a miracle will occur this Nissan, and you’ll actually find some free space, and time!  – in your lives! J


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