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Bo: A Matter of Time

It’s one of the most classic Torah trivia questions: What is the first Mitzvah in the Torah? The answer, for all you Torah Bowl fans, is the Mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh, blessing and inaugurating the new month, given in this week’s parsha – HaChodesh HaZeh Lachem Rosh Chadashim (12:2). Perhaps the better question, however, is not what the first Mitzvah is, but why Rosh Chodesh is the first Mitzvah, and why it is commanded now, shortly before Yetzias Mitzrayim, rather than just at Har Sinai with the other six hundred and twelve.

Regarding why the Mitzvah is given before Yetzias Mitzrayim, the Sefer HaChinuch (4:1) explains that through sanctifying the new moon and confirming the first day of the month, the Jewish people were able to determine the dates of all of the Chagim based on knowing when the first of the month fell out. This was essential now, as they are leaving Egypt, in order to know