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Big days are ahead of us. The whole month of Nissan, we don’t say Tahanun. This is because the whole month is considered Rosh Hodesh, as it says, הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים.  The first 12 days, we don’t say Tahanun because those days are the anniversary of the twelve days of holiday each Tribe’s Nasi made on his day’s inauguration. The 13th of the month is considered Isru Hag of those 12 days. The 14th, Passover eve, is the day of Korban Pesah. From the 15th until the 21st is Passover. The 22nd is Isru Hag. From the 23rd until the 29th are the days we will celebrate the building of the 3rd Temple. The Third Temple will be built on the 15th of Nissan, the first day of Pesah, and the 7 days of inauguration of the Mizbeach will be postponed until after the holiday, so we will be able rejoice over it in its own merit and not on the Passover Holiday, itself.

The month of Nissan is the head of the year, רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה which makes it confusing. Rosh Hodesh Tishrei, is Rosh Hashana, because the world was created on that date. But still, G-d commands us to count the months of the year in such a way that Nissan is Month One, while Tishrei is Month Seven, the holy Jewish number. So, how does it make sense that we start the year with two First Bases? How can there be two first starts, one in Nissan and one in Tishrei, and what is the meaning behind it?

The month of Nissan, we celebrate the New Year for Kings. (Rosh Hashana 2a) This means that a king’s official starting date to count each year of his reign, is not from the anniversary of when he started to reign, but from Rosh Hodesh Nissan.

There is a Hassidic twist to this. The month of Nissan is the month when we celebrate the Jew becoming a King. As the Talmud calls it, ראש השנה למלכים. Although there is a Rosh Hashana in Tishrei, that is to commemorate the creation of the world and Man, and the continuous nature in which G-d runs the world from the day He created it, and how G-d judged Man and graciously awarded him another year, despite his sin. Rosh Hodesh Nissan, though, is to commemorate that G-d crowned us as Priests to Humanity,וְאַתֶּ֧ם תִּהְיוּ־לִ֛י מַמְלֶ֥כֶת כֹּהֲנִ֖ים   and He empowered us to rule our lives and nature, through giving us the power to control perspective and time. We control when it is the beginning of Spring and when Passover starts by deciding if we have a leap year or not, or a leap-month or just a regular month.

What does this mean, that if we are Kings over our Time, over our Schedule, we are Kings over the world?

The Jew has two options. A Jew can be living with a long-term perspective, thinking about his Olam Haba, and then he will be a Melech, a king, because he will be a Rosh-Hodesh-Nissan Jew. Or, a Jew, can live as a Rosh Hodesh Tishrei person, live like a Gentile, and then he will fall into the category of an Eved: he will live like a slave. What does it mean to live like a slave? Living like a slave means living with a short-term perspective, thinking only about Olam Hazeh, with the concept of עבדא בהפקירה ניחא ליה, a slave prefers a life of no responsibilities or rules. (Ketubot 11a, Gittin 13a)

The two calendars are two mindsets. The Orhot Tzaddikim tells us in Sha’ar Yirat Shamayim that everything in the world represents something in Man, as Man is an עולם קטן. Man is linked to the world, as he is responsible for it. The Skull is like the round sky, with the right eye compared to the sun, and the left eye compared to Venus. The veins in the body that transport the blood are like the rivers; the hot air and cold air of Earth resemble when Man blows with a wide-open mouth, which creates hot air and when he blows with his mouth nearly closed, emitting cold air. There is thunder in the world, which is like when Man speaks, and there is lightening, which is when Man gets mad, and his face “lightens up”.  Just like mountains, man has shoulders, knees, and heels and the rest of his joints. Just like different types of rocks, there are many types of teeth. Just like trees that bear fruit and others that don’t, so too, there are people who can bear children and people who cannot. Parallel to the 365 days a year, in the solar calendar, there are 365 sinews in humans. And just like there like is a soul that fills the body, maintains the body, outlives the body, can see but can’t be seen, is pure in the body, and does not sleep, so too, G-d fills his world, supports His world, outlives His world, sees and can’t be seen and never sleeps.

We can add to this Orhot Tzaddikim, that that two Rosh Hashanas, of Rosh Hodesh Nissan, and Rosh Hodesh Tishrei, which essentially are two types of calendars, one lunar and one solar, are the two psychological quests of the Jew: Man’s search for Meaning, and Man’s search for Survival. There are two parts of man. The part of man that needs to take care of his basic needs and the part that needs to make sense out of it all. The power of the Jew is the power of the New Moon, which is the power of renewal.  A Jew needs to be a מחדש: once man tends to his basic needs for survival, he looks for what Maslow calls self-actualization, to reach goals and become greater beyond just surviving, or going with the flow, or continuing with the everyday. A Jew, has in his psychology, that he needs to be some sort of King. He needs to be the employer, the boss – and most important, he has a need to control his life and schedule, and not allow his schedule to rule him.

The Jew always has a way to think out-of-the-box and to be witty, more than gentiles. Rav Ovadia Yosef would say the Jewish Joke. There was this guy, who, after his wife cleaned the whole house for Pesach, he would snap at her, jokingly, after Biur Hametz and say, “Baruch Hashem, we got rid of all the Hametz in the house. But the main Hametz, we never got rid of!”… referring to his wife, as the Hametz. The wife would snap back, “Don’t worry, my dear husband. My father already sold me to a Goy, like you!”

The Parashat HaHodesh is the Parasha where G-d is telling all of us to go through a renewal, like the Moon, to do Teshuva. As we read in the Haftarah, G-d wants us to get ready for His Bet Hamikdash. This power of renewal is given specifically to the Jew, as it means the Jew has an innate trait of doing Teshuva.

No matter what, G-d wants our Teshuva. No matter what, G-d always forgives us. We have no doubt in that, for we make the blessings, הרוצה בתשובה, that G-d wants our Teshuva, and the blessing חנון המרבה לסלוח, Gracious, Who grants abundant forgiveness. We recite these two blessings, using G-d’s Name. You can’t make a blessing if you are in doubt. The rule in Halacha is that ספק ברכות להקל. When you are in doubt, regarding making a blessing, better not to do so, as you may mention G-d’s Name in vain, which is stricter prohibition than the Mitzvah of making a blessing. Still, we repeat these blessings, as we are sure that G-d will accept any Teshuva we do, and He will forgive, no matter how far away we have gone.

R’ Shneur Guata told a story that he had read recently. There was a young man here in Israel who had a wife and daughter. The wife got cancer, and during the time when she went through treatments, this good man took care of his wife, worked extra jobs to pay for the treatments and at the same time, brought up the daughter. He survived the juggling, until things got really serious with his wife. Then, his wife begged him that if she dies, he will always protect their daughter, Shlomit. When she passed, this man became not only the father of this girl, he also became the mother.

Of course, a man can never replace a mother, and the time that Shlomit reached high school age, she suddenly was taken over by the טיפש עשרה teenage syndrome. Teenagers, from the age 15 till the age 25 can go through changes of growth in their prefrontal cortex, as the body and brain mature. This can cause teens to lack competency in three main executive areas in the brain. Long Term Perspective, Justice, and Consequence. Especially if there are reasons why the teen brain won’t work effectively, like different causes of trauma. Trauma could come from early exposure to desires, a sibling that gets more attention, being screamed at or other abuse, ADD/ADHD, an identity crisis, and a long laundry-list of other things. The only thing parents can do when their teens rebel is give unconditional love and affection, and pray their hearts out, when they say in the Amidah for the children to have a relationship with G-d,לדור ודור נודה לך ונספר תהילתך  , for generation after generation, we will thank You, and we will speak your praise!

Well, Shlomit who grew up without a mother, with only a father who tried his hardest, looked for other places of love and acceptance that she might have felt lacking. The father warned her to stay away from bad friends, from getting close to boys, from dressing in ways that can attract the wrong type of people and from coming back extremely late at nights. But she told her father, “Dad. It’s my life… They are just friends… It is just clothing…” “But Shlomit dear, I promised your Mom, before she died that I would protect you. I can’t choose your friends for you, but please realize: the person you will be are the friends you have, and the clothing you wear.”

Shlomit said, “Dad! You can’t force your values on me. It is my life. Let me learn from my own mistakes.”

This went back and forth for a while. Until one day, Shlomit said to her father, that she is flying with her Israeli friends to India, with a one-way ticket, not sure when she is coming back. The father told her, “Shlomit, you are going to dangerous places. You are hurting your soul and your future. I never stopped you. But this is too far. Shlomit, you are not flying! It is out of the question!”

Well, with all the emotions involved, his only daughter and family member, and his promise to his wife, Shlomit’s father forgot the first rule of power. Never try to overpower the one who has more power. This is what our Rabbis call,  תעלה בעידניה סגיד ליה When you are with the fox in his fox hole, bow to him. Our teens have the power of choice of their own lives, more power than we.  Shlomit’s father met her at the airport with her suitcases and friend-hippies. He watched in dismay as Shlomit was a c t u a l l y walking through security. This was for real. This was not a joke. With shock, and tears in his eyes, he called to Shlomit and begged her to come over to him before she walked through security towards the gate, with her passport in hand.

My daughter! Why are you doing this to me? I am begging you! Shlomit, if you walk past that gate, if you board that plane, you are walking out on me. I am putting down my foot now, because I love you, and I gave a promise to your Mom that I will always protect you. If you go now, you are going against all of your father and mother’s values. You may never come back, and I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU. If you walk on now, I am cutting off all connection with you. 

Shlomit turned around, and with tears in her eyes, said to her father what she was saying all along. “Dad, its hard on me, too. It’s my life. I can choose my friends, how I want to dress and the values that I believe in. Your path – Mom’s path – does not work for me. I am not holding by where you want me to hold.  I don’t want what you want. You have to accept me as I am, and this is who I am. Don’t force me to live my life your way.”

With that, he said, “If so, I am breaking off all connection with you.” He turned around and walked away, in tears. Shlomit walked back to her friends and walked passed security.

She had a great time in India… for the first few days. Parties, sin, freedom, drugs, alcohol, music, discos, living like a gentile or, more precisely, like an animal… It was hard, though, to get out of the cycle of guilt and lack of happiness. But at least, she was free, and no one could stop her from trying to find the love and happiness she thought she had missed, because she grew up without a mother.  But, of course, she never found that love and happiness that she was looking for. This is because when a person feels like they are not complete, when they feel a lack, they need to connect to G-d to fill that lack. This is what is hinted to, in the words, תָּמִ֣ים תִּֽהְיֶ֔ה עִ֖ם יְקֹוָ֥ק אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ

Three years later, a friend from Israel showed up in India and met Shlomit. She surprised Shlomit and gave her a hug, telling her she is so sorry about her father, and that she could not make it. “What?? Why are you sorry for him? What are you talking about?” The friend turned white. “Your father passed away a few months ago. You did not know?”

Shlomit went into shock. She told her friend, that she did not know, and how her father was so disappointed with her, he cut off all contact. She got on the next plane back from India to Israel and ran straight from the plane towards the cemetery, looking for her father’s grave, near her mother’s. She read the inscription of her father on his grave, and she fell on his grave, balling. She hit herself, looked up to the sky and said, “Dad, I am sorry!!” But the clear-blue sky was quite, as if her father’s soul was repeating the last words he told her. SHLOMIT, I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU.

Shlomit, I will never forgive you. Shlomit, I will never forgive you. Shlomit, I will never forgive you. That is all Shlomit could hear in her head. She turned to G-d and said, “G-d!!! I want to do Teshuva! I want to come back to you! I know that You always accept Teshuva, and that You always forgive, EVEN IF MY FATHER WILL NEVER FORGIVE ME! But this voice in my head is not letting me come back!!! Father in Heaven, HELP ME GET OUT OF THIS!!!” She called a cab, and she went straight to the Kotel, to pray her heart out.

She stood up front, crying, like a daughter who is leaning on her father; she leaned on the Wailing Wall, right near the Mehitza. As she cried her soul out, she looked up to the sky again, and saw the letters in the Wall. She decided to write a letter, and push it into the cracks between the stones in the Wall. She wrote, Father in Heaven, send me a sign of forgiveness. Send me a sign of acceptance. Send me a sign that what I have done to my father will not stop me from coming back!!! Send me a sign that my father forgives me!

She folded this letter and looked for a crevice to put her note in, but there was none. She tried to find a spot, but she could not find one. She felt that maybe G-d is was just telling her, Shlomit, I will never forgive you.

But Shlomit did not give up hope. Any woman who attended a Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel knows there is some sort of step, on the Mehitzah. She stood on the step and looked over the Mehitza for a spot on the Wall: maybe she could reach a spot in the men’s section. The Kotel was empty, as it was midday, and she noticed that nobody was paying attention to her, when she leaned over the Methitza. So, she pushed in her note… and another note fell out, into her hand. She was about to put that other note back, but then she saw that written on that note, was the same name as hers. Shlomit.

Out of curiosity, she opened it up to see what was written on it. She started to shake. “Master of the Universe! My daughter is in India. Please bring her back; make her repent! Her name is Shlomit bat Rivkah! If I could speak to her, I would tell her, I forgive you for everything, just go in the right path in life!!!”

She cries out thanks to G-d, and she repents completely. A father of flesh and blood can forgive his daughter, no matter what she has done. G-d, who can do the impossible, who is א-ל טוב וסלח, the Almighty of Forgiveness, He for sure can forgive!

About the author, Yosef

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