Over the course of a few weeks every winter, we read in shul about the origins of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. What is more, the concept of Rosh Chodesh and the Jewish lunar calendar system are also instituted in the parashiyot we have just been reading in Sefer Shemot, the Book of Exodus. Let us take a look at some of these observances as set forth over the past several Torah portions:
Parashat Bo- In this parasha, set amongst the broader Egyptian slavery and ten plagues narrative, the Jewish people are commanded to observe Rosh Chodesh, the lunar new-moon festival.
Parashat Beshalach- This parasha contains the first mention of the idea that the Jewish Sabbath requires some sort of active observance by the Jewish people. Specifically, the nation is commanded to alter their manna-collecting routine in honor of Shabbat, Somewhat peculiarly, this commandment to refrain from collecting manna on Shabbat was introduced even prior to the formal command to keep the Shabbat, which was introduced in the following parasha, Parashat Yitro.
Parashat Yitro- As one of the Ten Commandments, the Jewish people receive the mitzvah to guard the Shabbat, and to sanctify it.
Parashat Mishpatim- In this week's parasha, not only is the mitzvah of Shabbat observance reiterated, but the related mitzvah of Shemitah, working the Land for six years and allowing for a sabbatical rest on the seventh, is also introduced. The three pilgrimage festivals, Pesach Shavuot and Sukkot, are also discussed.
This Shabbat is doubly-special because it coincides with the second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar Rishon (the first month of Adar). This Shabbat we will "put into effect" the mitzvahs that we have been given in these parashiyot by not only observing the Sabbath, but by marking Rosh Chodesh as well. This is done by singing Hallel and reciting the special Mussaf amidah for Shabbat-Rosh Chodesh. Yaaleh v'yavo is also recited, as well as a special maftir reading from a second Sefer Torah.
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov,
Rabbi Peretz Robinson