When a woman gives birth, after completing the days of purification for a son or a daughter, she should bring a male lamb in its first year as a burnt offering and a young dove or turtledove as a sin offering to the Kohen at the entrance of the Ohel Moed. He should offer it up before Hashem and atone for her. Why by giving birth does a woman need to bring a sin offering? The Ramban explains that during the birth process the woman swears that she will never come to her husband again and conceive (Niddah 31b). Therefore she needs atonement.
We would like to suggest another reason why a woman who gave birth requires atonement. Man was created in the Tzelem Elokim, the image of G-d. Being so, Man gravitates towards emulating his creator, for the word אדם means to be דומה similar. Just as Hashem can create something from nothing יש מאין, so too man is driven to create יש מיש something new from what already exists. However, he doesn’t have the power to create יש מאין which belongs only to Hashem. Chavah was enticed by the Nachash that this lofty power of creativity can also be hers והייתם כאלקים if she eats from the Aitz Hadaas (Rashi).
Even though Man cannot attain this degree of creativity, the closest he can come to such a level is by being the cause of creating a human being. The seed of man that brings to conception can only be seen through a microscope as it measures only 0.5 mm. As far as the naked eye is concerned, conceiving is an act of יש מאין. According to Sanhedrin 38b Chava gave birth to two children during the eight hour on the day of her creation, and in the tenth hour she sinned (Rashi 3,8). Being impregnated by Adam and giving birth immediately, might have very well seduced her to fulfill the advice of the Nachash to partake from the Tree of Knowledge and create worlds like Hashem even from nothing. In fact this was what Chava’s defense claim to Hashem (Bereishis 3,13) הנחש השיאני ואוכל the Nachash misled me and I ate. If you take note of the word השיאני it consists of two words יש אין . This conveys that the Nachash misled Chava into thinking that she could be like Hashem duplicating His creation יש מאין. After all, just two hours prior to her seduction by the Nachash, she became pregnant and gave birth which is the closest emulation of Hashem in creation ofיש מאין. She was led to believe that by eating from the Aitz Hadaas she would maximize her G-dly ability to be exactly like Hashem in this aspect. The Nachash even told Chava that Hashem also ate from this tree which gave Him the ability to create all matter from nothing (Rashi 3,5).
Now we can understand why the curse to Chava was (3,16) “I will greatly increase your pains of pregnancy You will give birth to children in pain”. What is the midah keneged midah in this punishment? According to what we explained it was the miracle of giving birth which is the closest thing to creation יש מאין , that convinced Chavah that she can attain also the ability of creation יש מאין just like Hashem by eating from the Aitz Hadaas.
This fantasy of possessing the ability of creating matter out of nothing can easily apply to any woman who carries an embryo in her uterus for nine months. At the time of birth one realizes that this is the most spectacular miracle in that one can create another full – fledged human out of nothing as far as the naked eye can see. But here lies the danger that she might think herself an equal to her Creator in this arena of creativity. By experiencing pain during the pregnancy and in labor, this bubble of distorted fantasy bursts. The pain is so extreme that she will come to realize that one who is like Hashem does not experience pain during such a lofty creative act of chesed. Sometimes the pain is so great that one comes to regret that she even became pregnant in the first place. The birth process therefore transforms into an eye opener that you are not even near Hashem’s creative power.
However, this curse of pain for nine months and the labor, over time will be forgotten and the new mother might come to think like Chavah that maybe it is possible to compare herself to G-d concerning the power of creativity. Therefore the Torah required her to bring a korban as an atonement for even a fleeting thought of being a partner with her husband in creating יש מאין just like Hashem.
We see from all of the above that giving birth should be a humbling experience and not one that brings to haughtiness and arrogance. To tell you the truth, a few days ago on Rosh Chodesh I finally got a little annoyed. It has been a minhag by Yidden that before we daven Shemoneh Esrai on Rosh Chodesh in a tzibbur, one person usually the gabai, gives a bang on the bimah or shtender to serve as a proclamation and reminder not to forget to add יעלה ויבוא in his tefillah. It’s not the bang or clop that bothers me but rather the clops that come after the gabbai’s, that are echoing the original one. Are they trying to send Morse code to announce Yaaleh Veyovoh? At Mincha before Shemoneh Esrai someone screams out יעלה ויבוא for it is not an interruption like in Shacharis, and that too is followed by more banging and clops. What do the cloppers think that we are stupid and did not understand the announcement of יעלה ויבוא ? Do they have an illusion that somehow their clops will add deeper insight to get this important addition in Shemoneh Esrai across? What about the third and fourth cloppers, what are they thinking? Are they just immature or maybe their obstinate actions stem from arrogance that .אחרון אחרון חביב They want to feel like a macher.
How about after all the clops, right in the middle of your Shemoneh Esrai when you finally start to get kavanah, you receive the Snooze announcement of יעלה ויבוא by an individual who raced to get to יעלה ויבוא so he can be the first and only announcer in the middle of tefillah. But guess what? Even after his proclamation there might still be one or two chutzpinyaks who dare to make yet another snooze announcement of יעלה ויבוא because they want to make their mark as well. What are they all thinking? That we all have amnesia after all that banging commotion?
Well one thing I can tell you and that is the spirit of Rosh Chodesh goes against all these physical hand and verbal cloppers. We all know that the Moon does not possess its own light but it reflects the light from the sun. The diminishing of its light came about because it complained with arrogance that it wants to be the sole luminary with the most radiant light. Hashem punished the moon by removing its light in order to teach it humility. Chazal tell us Chullin 60
אמרו ז”ל (חולין ס’ ע”ב) שאמר הקב”ה ללבנה צדיקים יקראו על שמך יעקב הקטן שמואל הקטן דוד הקטן.
In Kiddush Levanah we mention Dovid Hamech out right דוד מלך ישראל חי וקיים. Yaakov is hinted in the acronym ברוך יוצרך ברוך עושך ברוך קונך ברוך בוראך (Bereishis 27,15).
It comes out that the lesson of Rosh Chodesh is humility and thankfulness to Hashem for even the little that has been given to us. Chavah was punished with getting her period monthly in sync with the Lunar Calendar. She must learn from the moon that non gratitude for what we have, and greed for more, can only lead to misfortune.
Why then do we find so many cloppers on Rosh Cnodesh who want to make their mark on my cheshbon? If I had any extra time I would do some detective work. I have a slight suspicion that the last person who gives the clop for יעלה ויבוא in your local shul is the same guy who clops the last clop for every mention of Haman in the Megillah laining. It must be in the genes.
– Rav Brazil