In Exodus 12:2 we are given the first mitzvah—to sanctify the new month based on the testimony of two witnesses who saw the “birth” of the new moon.

The words in the Torah that teach us this mitzvah are: “This month, for you, will be the head of the months.” Why is it so important for G‑d to tell us, by the first mitzvah, that Nissan is our head month?

In the month of Nissan, we were redeemed. In the month of Nissan, we became a people. Asking us to consider Nissan as our head month tells us that there is something about this month that defines us.

This month has several names.

It is called Nissan, which comes from the word nes, meaning “miracle” in Hebrew. This teaches us that we are a miraculous nation with miraculous abilities. We are able to change the world, to make the mundane holy by doing mitzvahs. Though we have physical bodies, we have been infused with a neshamah, a “soul,” which is a piece of G‑d. This makes us a G‑dly people, above nature, enabling us to take two opposites—the holy and the mundane—and fuse them together.

It is called the month of aviv, Hebrew for “spring.” Spring is the time that trees bud new growth. This teaches us that we cannot be comfortable with our past accomplishments. We must be constantly growing, adding in Torah, service and good deeds.

It is also the month of geula, of “redemption.” This teaches us that we are a truly free people. We must never feel that we need to be like anyone else. We have our way, the Jewish way, G‑d’s way.

This is why it is told to us by the first mitzvah—because first, you need to know who you are.

This is who we are.

And it’s OK to be proud of it.