News From Ramaz
By Shoshana S. and Charlotte N. (Grade 8)
In this week's Parasha, Parashat Bo, Bnei Yisrael receive their first mitzvah as a nation from Hashem - the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh, marking the beginning of the new month based on the moon cycle. This seems very strange! Why, out of all of the 613 mitzvot, is Rosh Chodesh chosen to be the first mitzvah?
Rosh Chodesh is chosen because it is a mitzvah for keeping track of time. When the Jews were slaves in Egypt they did not have control of their time and were unable to sanctify it, or use their time to fulfill mitzvot and serve Hashem. By Hashem choosing Bnei Yisrael's first mitzvah to be keeping Rosh Chodesh, He is teaching them that being free means being responsible for how you choose to spend your time. You could either waste it, accomplish nothing, and even spend it doing aveirot such as talking lashon hara -- or you could spend it doing good deeds, mitzvot, and serving Hashem.
The word chodesh comes from the root "chadash" which means new. Rosh Chodesh is a time to think of the upcoming month, to think of the positive new things that are going to happen, and what we hope to accomplish that month. The next time that you have nothing to do, think of a positive act that you can do instead.