Hallel: Rosh Chodesh Sivan: An Introduction to Paragraph One
We know exactly what was happening on the Rosh Chodesh Sivan just days before the Revelation at Sinai. We can read the text and understand how the Children of Israel prepared themselves for Revelation, and the mistakes they made. We can then sing the Hallel of Rosh Chodesh Sivan with the intention to emulate their constructive steps, and repair their mistakes.
“In the third month from the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt, one this day, they arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai. They journeyed from Rephidim and arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai and encamped in the Wilderness; and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain.
Moses ascended to the Lord, and God called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘ So shall you say to the House of Jacob and relate to the Children of Israel.’
‘You have seen what I did to Egypt, and that I have borne you on the wings of Eagles and brought you to Me. And now, if you hearken well to Me and observe My covenant, you shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples, for Mine is the entire world. You shall be to Me a kingdom of ministers and a holy nation.’
These are the words that you shall speak to the Children of Israel’ (Exodus 19:1-6).”
“In the third month from the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt, one this day, they arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai.” Why does the verse have to say, “on this day”? Rashi comments that we derive from here that the words of the Torah should be “new” to you each day as if they were being revealed now. Would it not make more sense to introduce this concept of “new” after they had received the Torah? Should it not have been introduced as part of Moshe’s description of the Covenant into which they were about to enter?
The first beginnings by relating their journey to the Exodus from Egypt. “On this day,” hints that at this point the people sensed that they had arrived at the moment for which the Exodus took place. Until this point they were leaving Egypt. When they arrived in the Wilderness of Sinai, they understood that they were no longer traveling from, but arriving at. They sensed that something new was about to begin. When Rashi points out that Torah must always be “new,” he is not referring to the words of Torah being new, but to this sense that each day is not simply following the previous day or days, but is an opportunity for a beginning. This will be the theme of the opening paragraph of this Hallel.