Can there be two beginnings in a single year?

G‑d chose Nissan as the very first month of the year with the words: “This month shall be the head of the months for you.” (Exodus 12:2)

Personally, I’ve never associated Nissan with the beginning of my year; it always came smack-dab in the middle; there was nothing new or fresh about it. During Tishrei, we celebrate the anniversary of the creation of the world, we make resolutions for the new year—all the things I associate with the beginning of something. But then why does it clearly state that Nissan is the “head month”? How can we have two beginnings?

Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Eliezer debate this in the Talmud. Rabbi Yehoshua argues that Tishrei is the start of the new year, and there is no question about it. Rabbi Eliezer takes the other side, claiming that Nissan is our new beginning.

The question is obviously not when was the world created? We know that happened in Tishrei. But there are two parts to creation, the same way there are two parts of existence—the physical realm and the spiritual realm. The debate between the rabbis, then, is what came first—the physical world that we physically inhabit or the spiritual world? The Torah clearly starts with our physical world being created and tells the tale of a very physical life. But there is an element that we are missing; while physical creation occurred in Tishrei, the desireG‑d’s thought to create the world—occurred in the month of Nissan.

In Tishrei, and specifically on Rosh Hashanah, we draw down an energy that infuses our physical beings with the ability to exist. Tishrei presents creation to us, G‑d placing His energy in limited amounts into our physical world, keeping us tethered to the laws of the world. This limited and contained energy ensures that our world can continue existing with spirituality so hidden that we believe that we live in a physical world. This gives us free choice and causes us to sometimes even forget our Source.

Nissan though, the head of the months, delivers a supernatural energy—a miraculous energy that supersedes nature. It pulls G‑d’s infinite light down, and like a head to the many limbs, Nissan funnels this energy to the rest of the months. This is reflected in the event of the month: the Exodus, redemption and miraculous freedom from physical slavery and limitations.

What is our job?

We have Tishrei on one end, all about physicality. We have Nissan on the other, all about spirituality. The deep, spiritual desire for the world occurred in Nissan, but it was created physically in Tishrei. G‑d created a physical, limited world, but His inherent desire and intention was that we infuse this physical world with acts that draw down His infinite light and go beyond nature.

As we welcome the month of Nissan, we have a deeper strength to access this supernatural energy. We also have a unique opportunity to fuse physicality and spirituality to bring together these two seemingly opposites that were always part of one plan.1


Sit with your feet on the ground, your back against a chair. Feel the hard physicality of the chair and the ground. Notice the smells around you and focus on the objects that you see, the sensations that you feel on your body and the temperature in the room. G‑d created this very physical world, and our physical bodies can feel every part of it.

Take a deep breath. Look inward. You are a spiritual being; you have a piece of G‑d inside of you.

Yet G‑d is intentionally creating your physical being over and over again in each moment. You are a spiritual being, and you are a physical being.

Now look around you again. Everything you see is both physical and spiritual. Everything you see has a spiritual element hidden from our eyes. Take something physical and do a mitzvah with it. Take a piece of food and say a blessing on it. Touch a mezuzah and kiss it, focusing on the words on the scroll. Transcend the physicality and elevate it to its inherent purpose.

Fuse together the energy of Tishrei and Nissan, for this is the power of Nissan. Notice the hidden spirituality in every physical moment. At this moment—and in every moment—you are holy, you are G‑d’s, and you are a significant part of the plan.

This month of Nissan, focus on bridging the gap between body and soul, for that is your own personal exodus.