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Parashat Pinchas – Do as He Does

In Parshat Pinchas(Bamidbar[Numbers] 28, 15) when talking about Rosh Chodesh [New month]–the Torah uses the term ובראשי חדשיכם”the beginnings of your months”. Rosh Chodesh belongs to “you” because it is the Beit Din [The Court] which sets the date for Rosh Chodesh based on the testimony of witnesses who give evidence of their sighting of the new moon.

 There is another unique expression used in reference to Rosh Chodesh.  The Gemara [Talmud] (9a) notes that regarding the Temple offering (Chatat) of Rosh Chodesh, the Torah (Bamidbar 28, 15) states “LeChatat LaHashem“- a Chatat for Hashem [the Lord]. For the other holidays it just says “LeChatat.” To explain this, the Gemara (9a) states: “Reish Lakish said: Why is the Chatat of Rosh Chodesh different in that regarding it, it says “LaHashem?” Hashem said: may this Chatat be atonement for Me for diminishing the moon.” Therefore, the Torah states that the Chatat of Rosh Chodesh is “for Hashem,” as it comes to, so to speak, to atone for Hashem.

 Reish Lakish was referring to what is related in the Gemara (Chulin 60b) that, at first, Hashem created the sun and the moon with equal light. However, the moon approached Hashem and said “can two kings wear the same crown?” In response, Hashem made the moon smaller. The moon was very upset at this, and Hashem tried to appease it in different ways but was unsuccessful. At last, Hashem requested that Am Yisrael[The People of Israel] bring a sacrifice to atone for making the moon smaller. The Gemara thus tells us that this Chatat is for Hashem who “repents” for His reaction to the moon This idea is remarkable: namely that Hashem requests atonement. The Tosefot Rosh (d”h Se’ir) explains that the Torah is teaching us proper behavior.  If a person was forced to punish another person, even though it was justified, he should appease him afterwards. In similar fashion we may say that Hashem teaches us the importance of asking for forgiveness. If Hashem can, so can we. We are commanded: והלכת בדרכיו-to follow his ways .This is the mitzvah [commandment] of Imitatio Dei. Whatever Hashem does, we should imitate.

Very often we have too much pride and find it difficult to admit our wrongs and to make repentance for them. If Hashem uses Rosh Chodesh as a time for repentance so, too, must we. Rosh Hashanah [The New Year] is the Rosh Chodesh par excellence.

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