Special Daily Vort: Rosh Chodesh Nissan – Halachos As We Enter The Month of Nissan

The Month Of Nissan:

 

1. Neither “Tachanun” (1) nor “Tziduk HaDin” (2) is recited throughout the entire month of Nissan (3). Similarly, “Tzidkos’cho Tzedek” is not recited in the afternoon service on Shabbos. Every day, from Rosh Chodesh Nissan onward, it is customary to read the paragraph in the Torah [Numbers, Chapter 7,] which corresponds to the prince (“nasi”) of the tribe who had brought his offerings on that particular day of Nissan (4). On the thirteenth of Nissan, it is customary to read the beginning of the portion “Beha’aloscho” until the verse, “So he made the menorah,” for this corresponds to the tribe of Levi.

FOOTNOTES:

(1) “Tachanun” is comprised of prayers of supplication, and is recited after the “Amidah” during the morning and afternoon service.

(2) A prayer recited at the cemetery during a funeral. .

(3) The month of Nissan is considered a time of joy because it is the month during which the Israelite nation was liberated from slavery in Egypt. It is also the month during which the “Mishkan” (the portable “temple” used while the Jews were travelling through the desert) was first erected and dedicated. “Tachanun” and “Tziduk HaDin” are not recited at times of joy (See Aruch HaShulchan 429:1-3)

(4) The “Mishkan” (see previous note) was erected on the first of Nissan, and on each of the first 12 days of Nissan during that year, a prince of a different tribe brought his offerings as part of the dedication of the Altar.

2. We do not fast during [the month of Nissan] (1). This includes even a fast on the “Yahrzeit” (“anniversary”) [of one's parents' death]. One may, however, fast because of a disturbing dream (“Ta’anis Chalom”) (2). It is customary for the firstborn to fast on the eve of Pesach, as will be explained, with God’s help, in Chapter 113. A bride and groom should fast [on the day of their wedding (3), during Nissan]. This applies even on Rosh Chodesh (4) Nissan.

FOOTNOTES:

(1) The month of Nissan is considered a time of joy because it is the month during which the Israelite nation was liberated from slavery in Egypt, and during which the “Mishkan” (the mobile “Temple” used while the Jews were travelling through the desert) was first erected and dedicated. Consequently, it became customary not to fast during Nissan.

(2) There are various criteria for determining whether one should fast over a disturbing dream, however, this is not the place to go into the details. The purpose of a fast is to arouse a person to analyze their life and repent for any misguided actions and attitudes.

(3) According to the Talmud, one’s past transgressions are forgiven on one’s wedding day. Therefore, since it is a personal “Day of Atonement,” it is appropriate to respond to the opportunity through fasting and repentance. The couple fast until the wedding begins.

(4) In general, not even a bride and groom are allowed to fast on Rosh Chodesh (first day of the month), however, it is permitted on Rosh Chodesh Nissan because two of Aaron’s sons (Nadav and Avihu) died on that day while the Jews were travelling in the desert. (Mishna Berura 573:9).

 

3. On Shabbos HaGodol (lit: “the Great Shabbos,” referring to the Shabbos before Pesach) (1) during Mincha, it is customary not to read the Psalm “Borchi Nafshi”,but rather to read [the Haggadah from the words] “Avodim Hayinu” [until the conclusion of the passage beginning "Al achas kamoh v'chamoh,"] (2) because the redemption [from Egypt] and the miracles (3) began on Shabbos HaGodol.

FOOTNOTES:

(1) God commanded the Israelites in Egypt to designate, on the tenth of Nissan (five days before the Exodus), a male sheep for the Pesach offering (which was to be slaughtered on the afternoon of the 14th and eaten that night, the night of the Exodus). They tied the animal to their bedposts, and although the Egyptians worshipped the ram as a god and knew what the Jews were going to do with the animal, they miraculously did not try to stop them. That year, the 10th of Nissan was a Shabbos, and in commemoration of that miracle, we call the Shabbos before Pesach, “Shabbos HaGodol” (Tur 430).

(2) The Vilna Gaon did not agree with this custom and thus many people do not follow it.

(3) That is, the miracles during the final week in Egypt.

 

This Pesach Thousands of Families in Israel Will Not Celebrate Freedom

Your family gathers around the seder table with your finest crystal and china sparkling. Faces shine above beautiful, new holiday clothing. Matzo is piled high and a sumptuous meal awaits. You recline on a pillow drinking four glasses of wine and feel like a free man. But thousands of families in Israel do not share your celebration of freedom.

Poverty is a vicious cycle. It begins with hunger, but it doesn’t end there. Poverty steals dignity. Poverty replaces the warmth of happy homes with blame, frustration, and despair. It’s hard to celebrate freedom in such an environment.

Thousands of families in Israel can barely afford food year-round, let alone the exorbitant prices of matzo, wine, and chicken at Pesach time. Every Jew yearns for a beautiful family seder- but for some, the yearning remains unfulfilled.

You can change that.

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