Rosh Chodesh Shevat: Renewing our Inspiration
By Elana Yael Heideman
Copyright © Carmit Peleg
Winter in Israel is short. After one or two big storms each year, the cold winds and rain give way to the sunny days and first blossoms of spring. But unlike elsewhere in the world, this process begins just in time to welcome the month of Shevat, the 11th month of the Jewish calendar.
Did you know that celebrating Rosh Chodesh, the first day of each new Jewish month, is the first mitzvah we received as a nation? As we welcome this new month on the calendar, we also welcome a new beginning into our lives, refreshing our spirits and uplifting our souls.
With all that is happening in the world, it seems to be perfect timing to reconnect with the our land. Her beauty and significance gives us a sense of something greater than ourselves, something relevant and meaningful to our past and our present, while imbuing us with strength, motivation and hope for the future.
Coincidentally (or not), it was on this day that Moshe spoke to the Children of Israel and recited the complete words of Sefer Devarim (ספר דברים) or the Book of Deuteronomy. His first words were:
"You have dwelt long enough on this mountain. Turn and take your journey, and come to the Amorite mountain and all its neighbors, in the Aravah, on the mountain, and in the lowland, and in the south, and at the seacoast; the land of the Canaanite and the Lebanon, until the great river, the Euphrates River. See! I have given the Land before you; come and possess the Land that Hashem swore to your forefathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov, to give them and their children after them."
For 37 days straight, Moses spoke. For each of these days until the 7th of Adar, the Children of Israel were reminded of a homeland bestowed upon them as an inheritance. With his final words, Moses reminded Am Yisrael of the challenges faced in protecting that right:
"There is none like G-d...He drove the enemy away from before you, and he said, 'Destroy!' Thus Israel shall dwell secure, solitary, in the likeness of Yaakov, in a land of grain and wine; even his heavens shall drip with dew…"
"Fortunate are you, O Israel: Who is like you! O People delivered by Hashem, the Shield of your help, Who is the Sword of your grandeur; your foes will try to deceive you, but you will trample their haughty ones." (Devarim 33).
Today, we continue to struggle toward this same goal. We face the continued deception of the world by perpetrators of hate and the masses that believe these malicious lies about Israel. In every journal and throughout many virtual platforms we debate if we indeed dwell in isolation in the world and if our nation is secure. So, too, must we continue to do everything to minimize the ego of those that spite Am Yisrael, those who seek our destruction as they become emboldened and haughty by increasing acceptance from all corners of this earth.
Just as everything and everyone seem to be intent on taking our land away from us, we MUST continue to protect, to love, and to connect with the land of our ancestors, the land of our destiny.
Carrying on the spirit of Moshe, Rosh Chodesh Shevat gives us a chance for renewed inspiration. While the first blossoms of spring introduce the month of Shevat, this month acts as a reminder that Tu B’Shevat is around the corner - the new year for Israel’s trees and a celebration of our shared roots in Eretz Yisrael.
So Rosh Chodesh Shevat Sameach, everyone! What a perfect day to start planning your Tu B’Shevat Seder and celebrate our shared heritage and connection to Israel - no matter where we might be in the world.
Dr. Elana Yael Heideman, Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, is a dynamic and passionate educator who works creatively and collaboratively to create a stronger voice for future Jewish leadership. An independent lecturer and educational consultant, Elana’s range of activities demonstrate the intensity of her commitment to incorporating understanding of and respect for the history of the Jewish People. Through her involvement with numerous programs, projects and lectures, Elana continually seeks to facilitate dialogue and build bridges between the past, present and future.