WWOT: Weekly Words of Torah – Parashat Tazria (Shabbat HaChodesh/Rosh Chodesh Nisan)

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

This Shabbat is a triple header. We read the Torah portion of Parashat Tazria, it is Rosh Chodesh Nisan, and we also refer to this Shabbat as Shabbat HaChodesh, one of the special Shabbatot that precedes Passover. Shabbat HaChodesh is either the Shabbat that coincides with or immediately precedes Rosh Chodesh Nisan – and, this year, you can see that it coincides. The Maftir-reading for this Shabbat is Exodus 12:1-20: “God spoke to Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: This month is the first of your months, it is the first of the months of your year…” This constitutes the Commandment that we sanctify the months and, later on the Sanhedrin, calibrate our calendar.

We read the first mitzvah given to the Jews as a people, which tells us to take control of our time. It is deeply significant that the first national mitzvah that God gave us, while still in Egypt on the very threshold of redemption, was to take control of our time. A slave has scant need for a calendar: s/he sleeps and wakes, eats and works, lives his/her entire existence, according to his/her master’s timetable. Only a free person can determine his/her own schedule, and only a free nation can determine its own calendar. What do we do with our time? Do we squander it? Do we dedicate it to the better good?

I can bet that, if you are reading this, you do many good things in your life – for one, you are a member of a Sisterhood. I have a challenge for all of us. In this new month, Chodesh, what new things, the same root – Chadash – new – can we do this month? New things in terms of: What new things can we do for our Sisterhood and our Sisters? What new people can we meet and bring in? What new ideas do we have to share with our Sisterhood? What new concepts in Torah do we want to learn? And what new mitzvot might we want to incorporate into our lives? May this new month of Nisan bring us all good health, happiness, joy, and meaning.

Weekly Words of Torah is a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here.