Machar Chodesh

Dovid HaMelech and the Moon

The Haftorah of this week’s Shabbos is מחר חודש. Since tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh, so we read the Haftorah of מחר חודש. The Gemara in Megilah 31a says the following:

ראש חדש שחל להיות בשבת מפטירין והיה מדי חדש בחדשו. חל להיות באחד בשבת, מאתמול מפטירין ויאמר לו יהונתן מחר חדש

This Gemara is brought down in the Rambam Hilchos Tefilah 13:4 and in Shulchan Aruch Siman 425. The fact that we read a special Haftorah on Shabbos when Rosh Chodesh falls out on Sunday is tremendous Chiddush because usually, when there is a special Haftorah for the ד' פרשיות, Rosh Chodesh, and Chanukah, the Maftir is מענין that day or Parshah. Meaning, the last reading from the Torah either has to do with Chanukah or Rosh Chodesh, or it’s a special Kriah of the ד' פרשיות and then the Haftorah read is always מענין the last topic read in the Torah. However, the Haftorah of מחר חודש has nothing to do מענין the day nor does it have to do with the last topic read in the Torah, the maftir. The only thing that is similar to this is the תלתא דפרנעותא that are read the three weeks before Tisha Baav and the שבע דנחמתא which are read the seven weeks after Tisha Baav where the Haftorah is not connected to the last thing read in the Torah. Although the reading of these Haftorahs doesn’t appear in the Gemara, Tosfos in Megilah 31b says the source is from the Pesikta.

In the Sefer Orchos Chaim written by ר' אהרן מלוניל, he writes in Hilchos Krias HaTorah Siman 60 the following:

ור"ח שחל להיות באחד בשבת מפטיר בשמואל מחר חדש והטעם כמו הזכרת ר"ח. ויש חולקין בזה המנהג שלעולם אין מפטירין אלא במאי דסליק מיניה או מעניינא דיומא וזאת אינה מאחת מהנה ולכך לא נהגו להפטיר מחר חדש אלא בהיות ר"ח בשבת וא' בשבת ואז היא מענינא דיומא ומזכירין ג"כ שלמחר יהיה ר"ח כמו היום וכן נהגו גדולי צרפת.

He bring an opinion that says when Rosh Chodesh falls out on Sunday, we don’t read the Haftorah of מחר חדש because it has nothing to do with עניינא דיומא or the last reading in the Torah. However, if Rosh Chodesh falls out on Shabbos and Sunday, then we do read the Haftorah of מחר חדש because it is מענינא דיומא and then we can also mention that tomorrow will be Rosh Chodesh like today.
The Orchos Chaim is seemingly directly against the Gemara mentioned above because the Gemara clearly says that when Rosh Chodesh falls out on Sunday, one should read מחר חדש on Shabbos. So it must be that these Rishonim, quoted by the Orchos Chaim, learned the Gemara that says שחל להיות באחד בשבת ראש חדש means when Rosh Chodesh also falls out on אחד בשבת meaning on Shabbos and also on Sunday. But we who read the Haftorah of מחר חדש even when Rosh Chodesh only falls out on Sunday learn the Gemara כפשוטו.

Therefore, it is noteworthy that even though there is no significance to the day before Rosh Chodesh and the last reading in the Torah is nothing to do with Rosh Chodesh, nevertheless we read the special Haftorah of מחר חדוש. As opposed to when Rosh Chodesh falls out on Shabbos where we read the Haftorah of והיה מדי חדש בחדשו which is connected to the Maftir where we read about Rosh Chodesh.

The simple connection between the Haftorah of מחר חודש and this day is that this conversation between Dovid and Yehonason took place on Erev Rosh Chodesh as the Pasuk says ויאמר לו יהונתן מחר חדש ונפקדת כי יפקד מושבך. However, it would seem that the content of this story with Dovid Hamelech is really related to Rosh Chodesh as we see the Minhag is to say דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים in Kiddush Levana. The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah 25a records a story where Rebbi told Reb Chiyah to go to עין טב to be Mekadesh the Chodesh and the סימן he sent back to show that he was Mekadesh the Chodesh was דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים. Rashi explains דוד מלך ישראל - נמשל כלבנה, שנאמר בו (תהלים פט) כסאו כשמש נגדי כירח יכון עולם. Although the Rama doesn’t quote this Gemara as the source, nevertheless he writes in Siman 426:2 ונוהגין לומר דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים שמלכותו נמשל ללבנה ועתיד להתחדש כמותה.

The source of the Rama is from Rabbeinu Bchayeh in Parshas Vayeshev. He explains that the cycle of the moon is similar to the life of Dovid HaMelech and the history of the Jewish people. The moon grows to a fullest over a period of fifteen days and then declines over the next fifteen days until it disappears. However, the moon then reappears anew at the beginning of the new month. This is a phenomenon unique to the moon as opposed to the sun which is fixed and its appearance doesn’t change. This experience is comparable to the life of Dovid Hamelech whose life was filled with regressions and progressions, and ups and downs. The first fifteen days of the month correspond to the fifteen generations from Avraham Avinu to Shlomo Hamelech which was during a time of great spiritual growth. The next fifteen days of the moons decline in appearance correspond to the next fifteen generations where מלכות בית דוד came to an end. But just like the moon reappears anew every month after appearing to be completely diminished, so to their will be a time where the מלכות בית דוד will be reinstated.

In the story discussed in this Haftorah, which is an important step in allowing Dovid to eventually become the king, the Pasuk says ונפקדת כי יפקד מושבך. This is a play on words because ונפקדת means “and you will be remembered” because Shaul is going to ask about him, כי יפקד מושבך “when you will be absent from your place.” Meaning, his appearance will be through his absence. This is what occurs every Erev Rosh Chodesh going into Rosh Chodesh. The moons disappears and then there is a rebirth on Rosh Chodesh when it reappears. And that is the story of Dovid HaMelech and his Malchus that it goes in cycles where first it’s present and then it becomes absent and will eventually become present again. By reading this Haftorah, we emphasize our belief that even when we don’t see at all and it’s considered non-existent, we know that it’s there and it will come back, be revealed, and have a rebirth. We reaffirm our belief דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים that the Malchus Beis Dovid even when it appears non-existent- כי יפקד מושבך, it will be ונפקדת-remembered and revealed one day. This is the meaning of what is said in Kiddush Levana עטרת תפארת לעמוסי בטן שהם עתידים להתחדש כמותה that it’s about rebirth and renewal of the Jewish people.

Serving Hashem Wherever

The Psukim in the Haftorah for מחר חדש say as follows (שמואל א, כ:כ-כב) :

ואני שלשת החצים צדה אורה לשלח לי למטרה

והנה אשלח את הנער לך מצא את החצים אם אמר אמר לנער הנה החצים ממך והנה קחנו ובאה כי שלום לך ואין דבר חי ה'

ואם כה אמר לעלם הנה החצים ממך והלאה לך כי שלחך ה'

Reb Eliyahu Meir Bloch and Reb Mottel Katz came to America escaping Europe in 1941 and they called for a meeting with Balei Batim to discuss reestablishing the Telz Yeshiva in Cleveland. At that meeting, Reb Eliyahu Meir Bloch quoted the above Pasuk לך כי שלחך ה', and asked that the Pasuk should say ברח that he should escape because he is in danger. Yet the Pasuk says לך כי שלחך ה – “Go, because Hashem has sent you” because a Jew has to know that even when he is escaping danger, he is on a mission and the danger was only to put him in a place where he could fulfil his mission and therefore he felt that they were not just escapees rather they were on a mission and therefore it was there mission to reestablish the Yeshiva in America.

The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe escaped Warsaw in the beginning of 1940 after the Nazi occupation and he spent Pesach one month later in Lakewood. On the Pasuk in Hallel אנה ה' כי אני עבדך, the word אנה has the meaning of “please”, but it’s usually spelled אנא and here it’s spelled אנה which really means “where.” The Meforshim struggle with this. So the Rebbe explained this אנה as where that אנה ה' כי אני עבדך is a statement that wherever I may be, whatever situation I may find myself in, אני עבדך, I am your servant and I am ready to serve you.

Similarly, In Shema, we are commanded to serve Hashem “בכל לבבך”, with all of our heart. רש״י, in his second explanation, tells us that we are being told “שלא יהיה לבך חלוק על המקום ”. In the Sefer Beis Aharon written Rav Ahron Karliner the second, he brings in the name of Rav Shlomo Karliner that what רש״י is revealing is that Hashem does not want us to hide under a rock and shut out the difficulties of our current situations. We are not to turn away from the realities of our present existence. On the contrary, we are meant to grow from our struggles.

בן נעות המרדות

In the above mentioned Haftorah, Shaul says to Yonason ויחר אף שאול ביהונתן ויאמר לו בן נעות המרדות הלוא ידעתי כי בחר אתה לבן ישי לבשתך ולבשת ערות אמך (שמואל א, כ:ל)

Rashi explains the meaning of נעות to mean לשון נע אשה נעה ונדה יוצאני'. Rashi on the word מרדות says כשחטפו בני בנימן מבנות שילה שיצאו לחול בכרמים היה שאול ביישן ולא רצה לחטוף עד שבאתה היא עצמה והעיזה פניה ורדפ' אחריו. Shaul was shy and his wife sought him out and went out to him. So by calling Yonason בן נעות המרדות, he was saying that your mother acted improperly being that she sought him out.

The question is why is Shaul saying this to Yonason as if to say that it’s his fault? Furthermore, why does the Pasuk say ולבשת ערות אמך, meaning why is it an embarrassment to his mother because he was בוחר בן ישי?

The Gemara in Yevamos 77a has a discussion regarding if Dovid Hamelech was fit to be king. The Gemara interjects and says before you can discuss being fit for king, you have to ask if he was ראוי לבא לקהל because he is a descendent of רות המואביה. To which the Gemara brings an explanation why the prohibition of marrying from Moav and Amon only applies to the men and not the woman is because על דבר אשר לא קדמו אתכם בלחם ובמים - דרכו של איש לקדם וכו. Since it’s not the way of women to go out, therefore it wasn’t a טענה on them.

So Shaul was saying to his son Yonason that if you weren’t בוחר בן ישי, then it’s as if to say that there isn’t anything wrong with women going out and it is דרכה של אישה לקדם and there was no issue with his mother seeking out Shaul and she wouldn’t be a נעות. But now that he was בוחר בן ישי saying that a descendent of a מואבית is כשר, so you (Yonason) are suggesting that it’s not the דרך for an אשה לקדם and that’s why there was no טענה on women from Moav, which was turning his mother into a נעות because now it was inappropriate that which Shauls wife went after him and therefore by being בוחר בן ישי he is ולבשת ערות אמך that it’s now embarrassing to his mother.

Rosh Chodesh Elul

This week is Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Elul. One would think that when comparing the two, Shabbos is greater than Rosh Chodesh. However, from the Gemara in זבחים דף צא ע"א it appears that Rosh Chodesh is greater and more holy because the Gemara wants to prove that תדיר precedes מקודש because the musafei Shabbos come before the musafei Rosh Chodesh which is תדיר even though Rosh Chodesh is more מקודש. How can we understand this?

The Avudraham says that אלול is alluded to in the Pasuk in Shir Hashirim אני לדודי ודודי לי teaching us that the month of Elul is about the love between Hashem and כלל ישראל. However, the significance of the month of Elul comes from the fact that Moshe Rabeinu spent forty days in heaven in preparation for receiving the second luchos. However, the Yerushalmi in Rosh Hashanah says that the months of the year only came about through the עולי בבל. Therefore, it is difficult to understand that the מעלה of חודש אלול should be expressed as a רמז in a Pasuk that only came to be many generations later when this month was given the name Elul, but until then, it never had the name Elul?

Rashi explains that the Psukim earlier in Shir Hashirim talk about when the Jews were given the permission to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash and the goyim wanted to participate in the building. To which the Jews responded אני לדודי ולא אתם לו ולא תבנו עמנו. In the beginning of חגי, the prophecy of the rebuilding of the second Beis Hamikdash was given on the first day of Elul. We see that the connection of Elul to the Pasuk of אני לדודי ודודי לי is not just because it alludes to it in the Roshei Teivos but because this Pasuk is connected to the time period where the Jews received the prophecy to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash, and It was in that context that the Jews said אני לדודי ודודי לי.

It also says in חגי that גדול יהיה כבוד הבית הזה האחרון מן הראשון. This is seemingly perplexing because it would seem that the opposite is true being that there were five things that existed by the first Beis Hamikdash but weren’t in the second Beis Hamikdash, as the Gemara in Yuma 21b says. Therefore how could it be the second Beis Hamikdash was greater than the first? There is a similar idea expressed by the First and second לוחות. The אבן עזרא (שמות לד, א) quotes a Gaon who says the second לוחות were more נכבד than the first in seven ways. But the אבן עזרא disagrees very strongly and says it’s obvious the first לוחות were greater because they were written by Hashem as opposed to the second pair which were by Moshe and how could you says that מעשה משה was more נכבד than מעשה אלוקים. The Gaon, in his fourth reason why the second pair were better than the first pair says exactly the opposite that the מעלה of the second pair was כי בם חלק מן השמים ומן הארץ, as opposed to the אבן עזרא who says specifically for that reason was the first pair better than the second pair.

However it’s seems from the Midrashim that the לוחות שניות were greater, and that Hashem told Moshe not to be sad that he broke the luchos because the second pair were greater. However, the אבן עזרא still has his question? The Beis Halevi (דרושים שו"ת ס' יח) says based on the Yerushalmi in Shekalim that the Luchos Rishonos had תורה שבכתב and תורה שבע"פ written on them as opposed to the Luchos Shniyos, they only had תורה שבכתב and the Torah Shbal Peh was left available for the Chachamim to expound. Therefore, the reason why the Luchos Shniyos were greater than the first pair was because it left room for Humans to bring out the רצון ה' by being מפלפל בפלפולה של תורה. This level of involvement creates a greater connection to Hashem. We could suggest this to explain what the Gaon was saying that the Luchos Shniyos were greater because they were from שמים וארץ because it was the human involvement and toiling to bring out the Torah Shbal Peh which wasn’t written that gave them their greatness.

The Gaon uses the words נכבדים יותר specifically to express this point. Based on the Gemara in Chulin 60a that says יהי כבוד ה' לעולם ישמח ה' במעשיו. This Pasuk is referring to when the דשאים made a ק"ו from the trees to be יצא למינו. At that moment, that Pasuk was said. The idea is that כבוד come when a person does something on his own without being commanded explicitly. The same is by the Luchos Shniyos, that they are more נכבד than the Rishonos because of the the Torah Shebal Peh that was not written explicitly but rather which was brought by the Chachamim. This is the same idea by the second Beis Hamikdash as opposed to the first. Even though it was missing the five things that existed by the first Beis Hamikdash, the second Beis Hamikdash has the human involvement element and the exclusion of the help from the goyim. Just like by the luchos Shniyos, it was a fulfillment of the Pasuk ונפלינו אני ועמך. Because the Medrash says the fact that the luchos Shniyos did not include Torah Shbal Peh was in order to prevent the אומות העולם from taking the Torah from us, and thus it remains in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people. This is the same idea by the second Beis Hamikdash that it was the Jews involvement and the exclusion of the help of the goyim, being that it was an exclusive and unique relationship between Hashem and the Jewish people of אני לדודי ודודי לי.

This all explains why the month of אלול is hinted in the words of אני לדודי ודודי לי and was only revealed at the time that the Jews were going up from בבל to build the second Beis Hamikdash, and was also the month where Moshe went up to receive the Luchos Shniyos. Because all these things are expressing the same message that there is a greater מעלה when the human effort plays a role as opposed to when it is just given with not human effort.

In spite of the fact that the significand of the month of Elul was always there, but it only became fully expressed in the time of Bayis Sheni when prophecy ceased and it was the beginning of the era of Torah Shbal Peh. It was at this point specifically that the significance of Elul was fully expressed as אני לדודי ודודי לי that we reach out to Hashem and he reaches back out to us. Until that point, we still communicated with נבואה which was Hashem reaching out and us responding. But with the onset of Bayis Sheni, נבואה ceased and it now was about us reaching out to Hashem and him responding, which is the idea of אני לדודי ודודי לי.

The Gemara in Brachos 49a says אין חותמין בשנים. But the Gemara ask that we sayמקדש ישראל והזמנים to which it answers ישראל דקדשינהו לזמנים. The Gemara asks again what about מקדש השבת וישראל והזמנים to which it answers חוץ מזו which is the נוסח of the Gemara as we have it. But the Rabbeinu Yonah has a נוסח because it is all one because Shabbos is mekadesh the Jews and the Jews are mekadesh the Yomim Tovim. When it comes to Kedushas Yisrael, there are two dimensions of Kedusha. There is the Kedusha of Shabbos which is inherent and can’t be taken away as it was a מתנה as it says in Shabbos 10a. That’s the idea of אע"פ שחטא ישראל הוא because it is a Kedusha that is God given and therefore irrevocable. The other dimension is that of the Moadim that Jews have the ability to be מקדש the Zmanim. We are meant to be mekadesh that which is not Kadosh inherently like are שכל. That is the Kedusha of the Zmanin. Based on the previous idea explaining the מעלה of the Luchos Shniyos and the second Beis Hamikdash, it could be understood how the Kedusha of mekadesh hazmanim is greater than the Kedusha of Shabbos, because it’s the human effort which creates that higher level.

A person might think that the previous generations had a better and more effective Elul than what we have today. But really it’s the opposite because the farther away we are, the more room there is for choice and with choice comes the human effort which has a greater מעלה than when there is less choice and therefore less human effort.