Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Tazria

The new month of Nissan brings with it cause for great joy, says the Chief Rabbi. A full transcript of his D’var Torah appears below.

This Shabbat, in addition to Parashat Tazria, we will be reading Parashat HaChodesh. The Torah declares: HaChodesh HaZeh Lachem Rosh Chodashim – ‘this month of Nissan shall be the head of all the months of the year for you’.

Nissan, which we are now commencing, is of course the month of our freedom, the month of great joy. And that joy is reflected in the omission of the Tachanun, the Confession Prayer, throughout the entire month, seeing as nearly every single day has a festive character.

“with the commencement of Adar, our joy increases”

If that is the case, why is it that the Gemara in Masechet Ta’anit tells us, Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’simcha – ‘with the commencement of Adar, our joy increases’. Surely Nissan is far more joyous. There in the Gemara, Rashi comments as follows.

Mishenichnas Adar y’mei Nissim hayul Yisrael Purim v’Pesach – ‘There were days of great miracles for the Jewish people, Purim and Pesach’. Notice that in commenting on the joy of Adar, Rashi mentions Pesach. From here we understand that with the commencement of Adar a process starts, a process of joy which then rolls into the following month of Nissan, and that joy becomes intensified.

How privileged we are that in this era, since the establishment of the State of Israel, we have two new festivals: Yom Ha’atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim to enable the happiness of Nissan to be followed up through the happiness of Iyar, which is the month thereafter.

“sometimes special events can be a waste of time unless there is successful follow-up”

In educational circles we recognise that with regard to special events, sometimes those events can actually be a waste of time unless there is adequate and successful follow-up. And this is a key theme of the Jewish calendar; our Shabbas’ and our Yom Tovs are there to inspire us through the days, the weeks and the months that follow. The same applies to the concept of peace. In Askenazi circles in the morning we pray Sim shalom, ‘God please give us peace’. By evening time it is shalom rav, ‘an abundance of peace’.

With regard to the affection we have for our Creator, at the dawn of every day we declare ahava raba, ‘an abundance of love’. By evening time it is ahavat olam, ‘everlasting love’.

So therefore we recognise that follow-up is the essence of any special occasion. In this sprit, now that we are commencing the month of Nissan, at the heart of which is the festival of Pesach, let us extend to others the greeting of Chag Sameach with a prayer that the simcha, the joy of this month, will indeed be with us, and all people on earth, for all time.

Shabbat Shalom.

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