This Shabbat we will be celebrating the beginning – New Moon of the month of Nissan – ראש חודש ניסן.
The month of Nissan נִיסָן is the month of miracles associated with the redemption of People of Israel from Egypt.
Its name is symbolic – נִיסָן – Nissan
One can notice that the root of Nissan is Nes – נס
In Hebrew נס (NES) is miracle.
ניסן is also close to ניצן, which means “bud“.
And it alludes to the fact that the month of Nissan starts a new period of spring, of preparation for blossoming and growth after the winter period.
As we know, the names of Hebrew months were adopted from Babylonia.
Originally in the Torah the names of the Hebrew months appear just as:
“The first month”, “The second month”, etc.
Nissan appears to be the “First month”.
And just for this first month – Nissan, the Torah actually has another name – חודש האביב, “The Month of Spring“.
Note that the word אביב can be broken down into two separate words:
Those literally mean “The father of 12”, meaning “The head of twelve”
* the numerical meaning of יב equals 12
(י equals 10, ב equals 2)
And interestingly enough, the very first law people of Israel were given as a nation (not as individuals, or tribes) after getting out of the Egyptian exile, was to relate to the “month of Spring” as the head of all other months.
הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים
רִאשׁוֹן הוּא לָכֶם לְחָדְשֵׁי הַשָּׁנָה
This month shall be unto you the beginning of months;
it shall be the first month of the year to you (Exodus 12:2)
And people of Israel are commanded to sanctify the new moon of this month.
What is the significance and the importance of this law to be
the first one (even before the ten commandments) given to the people of Israel after leaving Egypt?
This is the first commandment that serves to identify and build us as a nation.
It differentiates us from the Egyptian culture.
The sanctification of a New Moon serves as a model for personal and national rejuvenation and development in the spiritual and social realms.
It reminds us that after the long period of slavery the Creator has given us an opportunity to start afresh and determine our moral and physical fate.
Pay attention to the way the commandment is phrased in Hebrew:
…הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם
It literally means: This month is “for you”
This is YOUR month…
One of the most significant properties of slavery is time, completely controlled by others.
When in slavery, one is totally deprived of the ability to be in control
of his time. He has no such freedom. His “itinerary” is dictated by others. He has no choices in that respect.
Therefore, after getting out of exile, people of Israel, as a nation are for the first time given the freedom to “own” their time.
Particularly at the time of the spring equinox, when agriculturally-based society of Egypt celebrated the beginning of the solar-agricultural season, people of Israel were told to identify themselves in a different way.
They will identify themselves based on a lunar calendar – with a different sense of time.
The Hebrew word for month is חודש “KHODESH”, derived from the root חדש – NEW.
As opposed to the static sun, the moon rotates and reveals different phases of itself, reminding us of the opportunity of a new חדש – literally renewal, on a monthly basis.
Rabbi Hirsch elucidates the subjective nature of establishing a calendar based on the sighting of the moon as a reminder that we are not to be bound by the unalterable laws of Nature.
“It is not to be the conjunction of the moon with the sun; not the moon receiving the rays of illumination afresh, that is to induce the beginnings of our months, it is not that, to which our celebration of the New Moon is to be dedicated.
But each time the moon finds the sun again, each time it receives its rays of light afresh, God wants his people to find Him again and to be illuminated with fresh rays of His light, wherever and however, in running their course, they have had to pass through periods of darkness and obscurity.
The moon, finding itself again in conjunction with the sun serves as a model for our rejuvenation.
On Rosh Khodesh Nissan we are reminded to appreciate the passage of time as affording us opportunities to renew, grow, develop and blossom.
May this month of Nissan provide for us to be rejuvenated and inspire us with new energy and power!!
In response to many students of ours, who requested to help them to finally understand the Pesach Haggadah in Hebrew and actively participate in the Seder night, we have created a special interactive, multimedia online Haggadah eBook.
And now we have a special offer for you:
Interactive Pesach Haggadah at the price of only $7.99
This special price will be available only till the holiday of Pesach: Apr 19, 2019.
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and become this coming holiday of Pesach an active participant in the Seder night.
Shabbat Shalom and Khodesh Tov,
Yoel & Orly
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