HaChodesh

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On four Shabbatot beginning in Adar, additional Torah readings (the “Four Parashiyot”) are read after the weekly Parashah, reflecting seasonal themes relating to Purim and Passover. Their associated Haftarot also relate to these themes. The final of the Four Parashiyot, “HaChodesh” (Ex. 12:1-20), describes key historical events in the month of the Exodus, their eternal commemoration through mitzvot of that month (Nisan), and Nisan’s exalted status at the head of the Jewish calendar year. The following year, the Tabernacle was erected and inaugurated beginning on Rosh Chodesh Nisan. The Haftarah discusses these and similar themes as they relate to a rebuilt Temple.

Ezekiel 45:16-46:18

Speaking to his fellow exiles in Babylon, Ezekiel offers hope, rebuke, and an exalted vision of redemption. His final, extended vision (chapters 40-48) describes a restored society and Temple in Jerusalem. The Haftarah’s portion of that vision describes the responsibilities of the leader, or Prince, of the people. His first duty described here is to collect money and animals from the people to bring communal sacrifices at the Temple on their behalf. Ezekiel then describes a purification of the Temple; a subsequent celebration of Passover, Sukkot, and other holy days; and regulations relating to the Prince and his family, the Temple, the people, and their landholdings.

These and related passages differ notably from laws detailed in Chumash, prompting ancient debates about whether the Bible should include Ezekiel, and how to interpret these passages; Maimonides’ view is below.

Haftarah Breakdown

Verses 45:16-17: The Prince’s shall present Temple offerings on the people’s behalf.

Ezekiel 45:17

The burnt offerings, meal offering, libations on feast days, [new] moons, and Sabbaths, at all appointed times of the house of Israel shall be the Prince’s duty. He shall prepare the sin offering, meal-offering, burnt offering, and peace offerings to atone for the house of Israel.

וְעַֽל־הַנָּשִׂ֣יא יִהְיֶ֗ה הָעוֹל֣וֹת וְהַמִּנְחָה֮ וְהַנֵּסֶךְ֒ בַּחַגִּ֤ים וּבֶחֳדָשִׁים֙ וּבַשַּׁבָּת֔וֹת בְּכָֽל־מוֹעֲדֵ֖י בֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל הֽוּא־יַעֲשֶׂ֞ה אֶת־הַחַטָּ֣את וְאֶת־הַמִּנְחָ֗ה וְאֶת־הָֽעוֹלָה֙ וְאֶת־הַשְּׁלָמִ֔ים לְכַפֵּ֖ר בְּעַ֥ד בֵּֽית־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (ס)

Verses 45:18-20: Purifying and rededicating the Temple in advance of Passover...

Ezekiel 45:18

Thus says the Lord God: “In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young unblemished bull and purify the Temple.”

כֹּה־אָמַר֮ אֲדֹ-נָ֣י ה' בָּֽרִאשׁוֹן֙ בְּאֶחָ֣ד לַחֹ֔דֶשׁ תִּקַּ֥ח פַּר־בֶּן־בָּקָ֖ר תָּמִ֑ים וְחִטֵּאתָ֖ אֶת־הַמִּקְדָּֽשׁ׃

Verses 45:21-25: ...and the celebration of that holiday and of Sukkot.

Ezekiel 45:21

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.

בָּ֠רִאשׁוֹן בְּאַרְבָּעָ֨ה עָשָׂ֥ר יוֹם֙ לַחֹ֔דֶשׁ יִהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶ֖ם הַפָּ֑סַח חָ֕ג שְׁבֻע֣וֹת יָמִ֔ים מַצּ֖וֹת יֵאָכֵֽל׃

Verses 46:1-3: Activities of the Prince and the people at the Temple’s Eastern gate.

Ezekiel 46:1

Thus says the Lord God: “The gate of the inner court facing east shall be shut for the six working days. On the Sabbath day, it shall be opened, and on the day of the [new] moon, it shall be opened.

כֹּֽה־אָמַר֮ אֲדֹ-נָ֣י ה' שַׁ֜עַר הֶחָצֵ֤ר הַפְּנִימִית֙ הַפֹּנֶ֣ה קָדִ֔ים יִהְיֶ֣ה סָג֔וּר שֵׁ֖שֶׁת יְמֵ֣י הַֽמַּעֲשֶׂ֑ה וּבְי֤וֹם הַשַּׁבָּת֙ יִפָּתֵ֔חַ וּבְי֥וֹם הַחֹ֖דֶשׁ יִפָּתֵֽחַ׃

Verses 46:4-7: The Prince’s offerings on Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh.

Ezekiel 46:6

On the day of the [new] moon, a young unblemished bull [shall be offered with] six lambs and a ram- they shall be unblemished.

וּבְי֣וֹם הַחֹ֔דֶשׁ פַּ֥ר בֶּן־בָּקָ֖ר תְּמִימִ֑ם וְשֵׁ֧שֶׁת כְּבָשִׂ֛ם וָאַ֖יִל תְּמִימִ֥ם יִהְיֽוּ׃

Verses 46:8-10: Paths through the Temple for the Prince and the people.

Ezekiel 46:8

When the prince enters, he shall enter through the [eastern] gate’s porch, and he shall depart through it.

וּבְב֖וֹא הַנָּשִׂ֑יא דֶּ֣רֶךְ אוּלָ֤ם הַשַּׁ֙עַר֙ יָב֔וֹא וּבְדַרְכּ֖וֹ יֵצֵֽא׃

Verse 46:11-15: Voluntary and other offerings of the Prince.

Ezekiel 46:12

When the prince shall make a voluntary burnt offering or peace offerings voluntarily to the Lord, [someone shall] open the eastward-facing gate for him. He shall make his burnt offering and his peace offerings as he does on the Sabbath day, and leave. [Someone shall] shut the gate after he leaves.             

וְכִֽי־יַעֲשֶׂה֩ הַנָּשִׂ֨יא נְדָבָ֜ה עוֹלָ֣ה אֽוֹ־שְׁלָמִים֮ נְדָבָ֣ה לַֽה' וּפָ֣תַֽח ל֗וֹ אֶת הַשַּׁ֙עַר֙ הַפֹּנֶ֣ה קָדִ֔ים וְעָשָׂ֤ה אֶת־עֹֽלָתוֹ֙ וְאֶת־שְׁלָמָ֔יו כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר יַעֲשֶׂ֖ה בְּי֣וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֑ת וְיָצָ֛א וְסָגַ֥ר אֶת־הַשַּׁ֖עַר אַחֲרֵ֥י צֵאתֽוֹ׃

Verses 46:16-18: Regulations of the Prince’s land rights to protect the people’s landholdings.

Ezekiel 46:18

The prince shall not take from the people’s inheritance to deprive them of their possession. He shall bequeath to his sons from [only] his possession so that each man of My people shall be not scattered from his possession.

וְלֹא־יִקַּ֨ח הַנָּשִׂ֜יא מִנַּחֲלַ֣ת הָעָ֗ם לְהֽוֹנֹתָם֙ מֵאֲחֻזָּתָ֔ם מֵאֲחֻזָּת֖וֹ יַנְחִ֣ל אֶת־בָּנָ֑יו לְמַ֙עַן֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־יָפֻ֣צוּ עַמִּ֔י אִ֖ישׁ מֵאֲחֻזָּתֽוֹ׃

Connections

Maimonides rules that the Haftarah’s sacrifices and laws are not standard Temple procedures:

Mishneh Torah, Sacrificial Procedure 2:14

All the measures of libations stated in Ezekiel and the lists of sacrifices and orders of service written there are all inauguration sacrifices. They are not to be practiced [in all] generations. Rather, the prophet commanded and explained how to bring the inauguration [sacrifices] as part of the Altar’s inauguration in the Third Temple in the days of the Messianic king.

כָּל שִׁעוּרֵי הַנְּסָכִים הָאֵמוּרִין בְּסֵפֶר יְחֶזְקֵאל וּמִנְיַן אוֹתָן הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת וְסִדְרֵי הָעֲבוֹדָה הַכְּתוּבִים שָׁם כֻּלָּם מִלּוּאִים הֵן וְאֵין נוֹהֲגִין לְדוֹרוֹת אֶלָּא הַנָּבִיא צִוָּה וּפֵרֵשׁ כֵּיצַד יִהְיוּ מַקְרִיבִין הַמִּלּוּאִין עִם חֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ בִּימֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ כְּשֶׁיִּבָּנֶה בַּיִת שְׁלִישִׁי:

With emendations, all translations are from Sefaria.org. To dedicate, comment, or subscribe, email zbeer570@gmail.com.