Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
The beginning of the month of Shevat occurred yesterday and in this week’s Torah portion Hashem instructs Moshe and Aharon to sanctify the beginning of each new month, the first mitzvah we received as a nation. Each month, we are taught to look up at the heavens anew, all over again, for signs of the new moon. What is the significance of this first commandment that we received when we left Egypt?
One answer to this question may be found in “Netivot Shalom,” a collection of divrei Torah from Rav Shalom Noah Berzovsky of Slonim, as follows:
“The first mitzvah – that is, the first words that the Holy One Blessed Be He spoke to the nation of Israel – is that, first of all, every Jew must continually renew himself. The light of the sun is great and exceedingly strong, but there is never anything new about it. On the other hand, the moon continually teaches us about rejuvenation and self-renewal. This is the very first mitzvah and it reflects our reality in this world, in every generation and in every day that passes. Because in these chapters on the Exodus from Egypt, the Torah gives strength to every Jew to prevail over every situation. The Torah is not a book of memories of what happened in the past, but rather a way of life for the present. What is written and hinted in the Torah pertains and belongs to every Jew today in the here and now. And this Torah, that is meant to touch us directly, starts with renewal”.
Have a good month, full of renewal.