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Rosh Chodesh Nissan

August 20, 2012 | by Rabbi Tom Meyer

God is ready to give us opportunity right now. Choose it!

Power in the Air

One might think that the obligation to recount the Exodus is from the beginning of the month (of Nissan). Therefore the Torah specifies "because of this" ― meaning the obligation is when the matzah and Marror are in front of you ― i.e. on Passover night.

Why might I have thought to say the Haggadah two weeks earlier at the beginning of Nissan? Because you're suppose to start thinking about Passover at least two weeks ahead of time. You can't just walk into a major life transformational experience like the Seder ― where you are expected to discover your very essence as a human and a Jew ― and hope to accomplish it with no preparation! When the month starts, you should spend a little time each day thinking about the time of freedom. What are my priorities? What's holding me back from becoming great? And how do I work on that?

There is a concept in Judaism of sanctity of time and place. "Sanctity of place" is where the Almighty enables us to feel His presence, for example, more in Israel than in Afghanistan. Just like I am more open with my wife than I am with my neighbor, God opens Himself up more in Israel. That's why when the plane lands, you feel something special. And when you arrive in Jerusalem you feel something even more special. And when you get to the Wall it's... indescribable. Everyone feels it. Don't think you're crazy. You're feeling God.

There is also "sanctity of time." God allows us to feel different spiritual powers on each holiday. Passover is the time of freedom. You feel, wow, I could break loose today. And that's why you have to follow this process in the proper time. The preparation period starts from the beginning of the month. Then the afternoon before the Seder at the Holy Temple, they would slaughter the animal. That's like getting in control of the animal side of you. Then the real breakthrough comes at the Seder ― when you have the tools in front of you ― matzah and Marror.

I have to see myself as if I'm being brought out today. Not just because God took my ancestors out centuries ago. Passover has a lift. It's the opportunity to feel as though I'm walking out of prison. Step out. Take a deep breath and enjoy the day. If you have the courage, and if you know what you want, the cell is open and you can walk right out.

But the opportunity is only as good as we choose it to be. God is ready to pull us out right now. Right this minute.

Take advantage. It's when the powers are in the air.

Sanctifying Time

Rabbi Shraga Simmons

One might think that the obligation to recount the Exodus is from the beginning of the month (of Nissan). Therefore the Torah says, "On that day..."

Rosh Chodesh Nissan ― the first day of Nissan ― is one of the most significant days in Jewish history. It was then, in Egypt, that God gave the first mitzvah to the Jewish people ― the mitzvah of declaring the new moon and sanctifying the new month. For 2,448 years, God did so Himself, but now He entrusted the honor and responsibility to the Jewish people.

Why is this mitzvah so significant? Because it shows that we have the ability (and responsibility) to sanctify our lives and the passage of time. With this power to change and determine physical reality, we thereby become partners in the ongoing process of creation.

On a deeper level, when we make Kiddush every Friday night, we mention that Shabbat is a remembrance of creation, and also a remembrance of the Exodus. Nachmanides (12th century Spain) explains that Shabbat and the Exodus are intertwined. Because while Shabbat marks the week of creation, the Exodus was God's demonstration to humanity that He controls nature and directs history. In this way, the Exodus revealed an entirely new dimension to God's mastery over the universe. And as such, the month of Nissan eclipsed creation as God's most glorious time. Because in many respects, God's role as Director of History is even greater than His role as Creator.

In order to commemorate this new period in history, Nissan is counted as the first month on the Jewish calendar.

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