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    “HaChodesh hazeh lachem rosh chodoshim…, this month will be for you the beginning of the months…” (Shemos 12:2)

    Bnei Yisroel were about to leave Egypt and embark on a journey that would change the course of their lives forever. As they were about to be freed from a life of slavery and servitude to a new life of liberation and freedom, they were given their first mitzvah.“HaChodesh hazeh… this month is for you…” The gift to sanctify time. The opportunity of new beginnings and fresh starts. A bestowal not only for the Generation of the Exodus, but “lachem” – for you, for us, for all generations.How fortunate we are to have the ability to live each day as the first day of the rest of our lives. Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, in the Book of Our Heritage, writes that the word lachem in the Hebrew language has the same letters as the word melech – king, implying that the month of Nisan is not merely numerically first in the counting of months, but is in fact the “king” of all months. That the spirit of Nisan should be imbued within us throughout the year.Lachem… for you. HaShem, with His infinite kindness granted us the gift of time. How we spend our days, what we do with our time, it’s all up to us. Lachem, for you. We can be the melech, the king of our time. We can take control over our daily routine. Rabbi Kitov shares a Yalkut Shimoni, quoting Rabi Yehoshua ben Levi who compares HaShem’s designation of Chodesh Nisan to a king who had a personal timepiece. When his son reached maturity, the king gifted him the timepiece. Similarly, HaShem was delivering an important message to the Jewish people. “Until now, the counting of the months and the years was in My hands. From now on, it is entrusted to you.” I think back about how upset my mother a”h would get when she heard people say “I’ll kill some time.” “What do you mean ‘kill some time’ ” my mother would say. “Every day is a gift, every minute a present. Use it all wisely, for it never comes back.”The Hebrew word for months is chodesh, closely related to the word chadash – meaning new. Each month is a chance for renewal, an opportunity for new beginnings.HaChodesh hazeh, this month. Rashi tells us that HaShem actually showed Moshe the moon at its time of renewal, saying “When the moon renews itself, it will be the beginning of a new month for you.” With a deeper understanding, HaShem was portraying to Moshe the eternal story of the Jewish people. Rav Mattisyahu Salamon, the Mashgiach of the Lakewood Yeshiva, would impart words of inspiration to his talmidim. One year, on Tisha B’Av, he told of a Holocaust survivor who was asked how he was able to survive five long, difficult years in the Nazi concentration camps. The elderly man responded that it was virtually impossible to observe most mitzvos. There was no Shabbos or Yom Tov, since every day was another day of forced labor. But the one mitzvah that he was able to observe was Kiddush Levanah, sanctifying the new moon. He would go outside at night, and look at the sky above. Night after night, he would watch the moon as it waxed and waned. The survivor spoke of the joy of spotting a sliver of silver in the sky, a small crescent that would illuminate the heaven, messaging to him that it was time to recite Kiddush Levanah. “V’lalevanah amar, shetischadeish, To the moon He said, that it should renew itself, as a crown of splendor…. For those who are destined to renew themselves just like it…” (Kiddush Levanah)A little moon that would grow bit by bit, till it became a full circle, a beautiful round moon. It would then temporarily be hidden from sight, only to renew itself and start the cycle once again.The moon was the survivor’s inspiration during that very dark period. He looked up to it and he saw his story, the story of the Jewish nation. A people who despite experiencing painful and difficult times, are able to renew themselves and continue on. Even starting over when necessary. It is the story of nation who survived slavery, wars, the Inquisition, pogroms, the Holocaust, terrorism, and endless anti-Semitism. A people who live the message of the moon and are able to renew themselves.To be a Jew. To look at the heavens above for inspiration.This month shall be lachem – for you.This Shabbos is referred to as Shabbos HaChodesh. We welcome the month of Nisan and read a special maftir, telling us of Bnei Yisroel’s first mitzvah. We are blessed to have two firsts in the Jewish calendar. In Tishrei, we celebrate Rosh HaShanah, which marks another year since the creation of the world. The month of Nisan, is the rosh chodoshim, the first of the months – we begin counting months from Nisan. The Lubavitcher Rebbe tells us that the Torah regards Nisan as the first of the months for the message of Nisan should carry through for all months of the year. Nisan means miracles. A Jew must always remember that all events in our lives are orchestrated from Above in a manner that transcends nature. The spirit of Nisan should continue with us all year long. Every month, we should look for the miracles of life – both big and small, revealed and hidden. To appreciate and internalize the words we say in the Modim prayer “V’al nisechah sheh’b’chol yom imanu, and for the miracles that are with us each and every day.”This Shabbos, as we bless and welcome the new month of Nisan, may the message of the moon, the levanah, be with us, and be a source of inspiration for all twelve months of the year.