01 January 2014

Chodesh tov! It's Rosh Chodesh Shevat!

1 Shevat 5774
Rosh Chodesh

The heritage of the Land where our national destiny could be fulfilled was dear and precious to Moshe Rabeinu. In his final discourse to Bnei Yisrael, he began with the Land and he ended with the Land. And look today, how everything is focused on taking that Land away from us.

The Month of Shevat

On the first of the month, Moshe, inspired by prophecy from G-d, began to recite the words of the Book of Devarim to Israel. ...For thirty-seven days, Moshe spoke these words to all Israel. He began the first of Shevat and ended the seventh of Adar. His first words were:


"You have dwelt long enough on this mountain. Turn and take your journey, and come to the Amorite mountain and all its neighbors, in the Aravah, on the mountain, and in the lowland, and in the south, and at the seacoast; the land of the Canaanite and the Lebanon, until the great river, the Euphrates River. See! I have given the Land before you; come and possess the Land that Hashem swore to your forefathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov, to give them and their children after them."


His concluding words were:


"There is none like G-d, O Jeshurun; He rides across heaven to help you, and in His majesty through the upper heights. That is the abode of G-d immemorial, and below are the world's mighty ones; He drove the enemy away from before you, and he said, 'Destroy!' Thus Israel shall dwell secure, solitary, in the likeness of Yaakov, in a land of grain and wine; even his heavens shall drip with dew."


"Fortunate are you, O Israel: Who is like you! O People delivered by Hashem, the Shield of your help, Who is the Sword of your grandeur; your foes will try to deceive you, but you will trample their haughty ones." (Devarim 33).

The later Sages have, therefore, said that the first of Shevat is comparable to the day of the giving of the Torah. Just as the sixth of Sivan, on which the Torah was given to Israel, remains forever suitable for the renewed acceptance of the Torah, similarly is the heart of the Jew newly receptive to the Torah on the first of Shevat, because on that day they began to receive the Book of Devarim from Hashem, through Moshe.

Because the period of transmission of the Book of Devarim was this thirty-seven day interval, all the days from the first of Shevat until the seventh of Adar are especially well suited for renewed inspiration in the study of Torah and the doing of Mitzvot.