TAZRIA – HACHODESH
40 DAYS TO REBIRTH
"If a woman shall conceive and give birth to a male" (12:2).
Rav Hirschele Lisker, in his sefer Ach Pri Tevua, explained this pasuk in a unique way. He cites Chazal (Makkos 10b), that "whoever wishes to purify himself, they help him from above," and applies this to our pasuk:
If a person tries to succeed – even if he only applies himself a little and invests only a small effort, like someone who only plants the seeds (isha ki sazria), then veyalda zachar – he can bear a zachar mashpia. This refers to the aid of shefa and blessings that Heaven sends to help him with his efforts to succeed.
Whoever wishes to succeed, therefore, need only invest some minimal effort, and from shamayim he will be helped. However, he needs the light and sanctity of Shabbos to help him in this process. Thus, as Chazal say in the Medrash (Vayikra Rabba 27:10), we may not merit to visit and see Hashem before first visiting the Shabbos Queen. The pasuk tells us that the woman will be impure for seven days and then continues: "on the eighth day they shall circumcise his foreskin." In order to emerge from the tuma (impurity) of the seven days of the mundane workweek, we must experience Shabbos, which will free us to achieve kedusha.
The pasuk continues to tell us that "she must remain in the blood of purity for thirty-three days," which, together with the first week and Shabbos, is a forty-day period. The Rebbe Reb Melech of Lizhensk, in his Tzeitel Katan (16) tells us that in forty days a person can acquire a new teva, a new nature and new traits for himself. Whoever sets out on this course to sanctify and purify himself will succeed.
Rav Eliezer Dovid Friedman of London tells us that Rav Tzvi Kinstlicher once told how a person came before Rav Hirschele Lisker and complained, "Rebbe, I saw in the seforim that if a person refrains from speaking idle chatter for forty days he merits ruach hakodesh; I have refrained from all idle talk for forty consecutive days now, yet I have not been zoche to ruach hakodesh – why?"
Rav Hirschele thought for a moment and asked, "Tell me, did you daven during these forty days?"
"Yes, of course, Rebbe!" replied the astonished man.
"Well, there is your answer then! That must have been your idle chatter!!!"
Rav Friedman tells us that in the sefer Ach Pri Tevua, which Rav Hirschele's family published soon after his passing, they recorded a conversation which Rav Hirschele had had with them: "When I was younger, I desired to purify my soul and come to the truth and to study the secrets and wisdom of Kabbala. I did not succeed (he said in humility), and therefore I decided that since Tzaddikim teach that we can transform ourselves in forty days and be reborn as a new person, I would separate myself from the desires and pleasures of this world for forty days. On Shabbos I was weak and fell asleep; at midnight I awoke from my sleep like a newborn, and I tasted the fragrance and flavor of Gan Eden which I had never tasted before, and all the flavors of this world were disgusting and evil-smelling. From then on, all sinners were evil-smelling to me, as well as haughty, arrogant people; I could not stand their sight nor be in their presence because of the stench!!!"
FROM THE MAGGID'S TABLE
PARSHAS HACHODESH – RENEWAL & REBIRTH
Rav Elimelech Biderman shared these Divrei Torah about Parshas Hachodesh:
The Shem MiShmuel (Mishpatim) teaches that on Rosh Chodesh Nissan Hashem breathes new life into every one of us, and this continues annually for all generations; each year on Rosh Chodesh Nissan Hashem gives into the heart of every Jew new life. This works only for those who seek to purify and renew themselves (just as during the Exodus those who didn't seek to be redeemed died during the Plague of Darkness and remained behind).
Rav Hirsch Meshares of Rymanow teaches (Be'eros Hamayim) that the pasuk Hachodesh hazeh lachem – "this month shall be for you the head of all months," means that Nissan is the leading month for all forms of hischadshus (renewal) and all future renewals; it is in our hands to merit this strength of soul and begin to serve Hashem anew with added strength!
The first Gerrer Rebbe, author of Chiddushei Harim (Likkutei Harim) teaches us that a chodesh (month) means that each month a Jew is granted the power and ability to renew himself and began his avodas Hashem afresh! The pasuk Hachodesh hazeh lachem teaches that it is all in our hands. If we realized this – that whatever we can achieve is in our hands, that we have the ability to transform and renew – then surely we would not waste even a moment!
As we prepare for the awesome level of inspiration of the upcoming Seder night, we should have in mind that the Beis Aharon of Karlin taught (Pesach 85b): "Whoever serves Hashem sincerely can take away great awesome things from the Seder nights, in spiritual as well as in physical matters. Not only great people with lofty souls, even simple people, coarse individuals and lowly souls – each person merits this on his own level."
Rav Yaakov Eliyahu Lazer, author of Sova Semachos, once spent Shabbos Para in Shinova with Rav Yechezkel Shraga. As he prepared to leave on Motzaei Shabbos, waiting in line to receive the Rebbe's blessings of departure, the Rebbe expressed his surprise and said, "What, you are not leaving already, are you?!"
"No, no!" answered the gabbai instead of Rav Yaakov. "No, of course not! He is staying for several more days!"
"Good, good," said the Rebbe. "A talmid should spend Shabbos HaChodesh with his Rebbe and then he can merit to transform himself into a new person!"
Later, Rav Yaakov reported that what he had experienced and witnessed that Shabbos could not be put into words. Only one thing did he reveal: the incident that occurred during the beracha of Ahava Rabba on Shabbos day. The spiritual awakening and intensity were too much; he ran out of the Beis Medrash and burst into tears. As he sobbed, he felt that indeed he was transformed into a new person!
The Bnei Yissaschar teaches us in Agra Dekalla that the first twelve days of Nissan correspond to the twelve tribes and their offerings. These special days each correspond to an entire month of the year, and those who have pure, refined eyes can see the future of each month of the upcoming year on each one of these days, as we all witnessed from our master, the holy Rav Yaakov Yitzchok, the Chozeh of Lublin, who recorded what would happen each month of the coming year every day of the first twelve days of Nissan. He passed away in the month of Menachem Av and that year, all he wrote for Av was one word – Menachem.
The Zohar teaches that holy souls awaken each day of these twelve days of Nissan and we recite the pesukim of the korbanos offerings of the Nesi'im for the chanukas hamizbe'ach (the inauguration of the altar) Some have the minhag to read this from a sefer Torah, and a special tefilla is then recited.