Dear Readers,

This coming Shabbat, we welcome the new Jewish month of Nissan. The Torah calls it chodesh ha-aviv—the month of spring—since in the Land of Israel (and here, too) you can already feel the early signs of the season. It is also referred to as the first of all the months of the year.

“This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year.” (Exodus 12:2)

Two weeks before the Exodus, G‑d showed Moses the crescent new moon and instructed him to set the Jewish calendar through the mitzvah of sanctifying the new month.

Up until this point, Tishrei, the month of creation, was considered the first month of the year. Although Tishrei still begins the New Year, celebrated by Rosh Hashanah and the High Holidays, when counting the months, Nissan is considered the first month and Tishrei the seventh.

Why the change?

When G‑d created the world, He set up Divine forces, which we call nature, to govern it. Miracles were the exception. Therefore, Tishrei—the month in which the world and its natural forces came into being—was considered the primary month.

Then came Passover, the holiday when we became G‑d’s chosen people. Every Passover, we celebrate our miraculous exodus from Egypt and the birth of the Jewish people—a nation that would become living, walking miracles. Once the Jewish people become a nation, this month is counted as the first month.

The miraculous Exodus and our subsequent survival throughout the many tumultuous centuries of our history defy the very laws of nature. As Mark Twain so aptly and famously quoted, “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains.” The existence of the Jewish people proves that when you are attached to G‑d and His Torah, you can even overcome natural limitations.

And the most profound way in which we transcend nature is by breaking through our physical and emotional limitations, striving higher and bringing an awareness of an infinite G‑d into this finite, material world.

In this month of Nissan, which defined in Hebrew also means “miracles,” let’s look around and find the many miracles in our lives! Let’s applaud, too, the many miraculous people who refuse to succumb to the challenges, pressures and setbacks that seemingly come on a daily basis, and instead insist on bringing more happiness, goodness and greatness to our world.

Wishing you a chodesh tov—a good, strong month!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW