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Jews Welcome Nissan, Hebrew Month of Redemption

Tuesday is Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the Hebrew month of) Nissan.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 3/19/2007, 12:31 PM

Tuesday is Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the Hebrew month of) Nissan.

The first commandment given to the nascent nation of Israel before the Exodus from Egypt was: 'This month [the month of Nissan] shall be for you the first of the months' (Exodus 12:2).

Nissan is the first month specifically for the Jewish nation as it contains within it Pesach (Passover), the holiday in which the exodus and birth of the Jewish nation took place, and are recounted to each next generation.

Though the Torah (Bible) numbers months from Nissan, Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year, is observed six months later on the first of the month of Tishrei, as it is considered the new year for all people and living creatures in the world.

“By counting every month from Nissan, we constantly commemorate the miracle that G-d performed when He took us out of slavery,” the Ramban (Nachamnides) writes.

Rosh Chodesh Nissan is counted as the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings of Israel and the months on the Hebrew calendar. Other new years are the first of Elul (for the tithing of animals), Tu B’Shvat, the 15th of Shevat (new year for trees, to determine when a given tree’s fruit is first permitted for consumption). Rosh HaShana, the first of Tishrei, is the new year for counting years from creation and toward Shmita(Sabbatical) and Yovel (jubilee) years.

Nissan is referred to in the Torah as "the month of the spring" (Chodesh HaAviv) as well as "the month of the redemption" (Chodesh HaGeula).

The Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Rosh HaShana 11a) recounts a prevalent opinion among the sages that, "In Nissan our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt and in Nissan we will be redeemed."

The month is assigned to the Jewish tribe of Yehuda (Judah). According to the Talmud, all three Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - were born and passed away during the month of Nissan.

Dates of note in Nissan, with corresponding civil dates for this year:

Nissan 1 (Tuesday, March 20): After a 7-day training period, the Mishkan (Tabernacle) built by the Jews in the Sinai desert following the Exodus began to be the active center of worship. Aaron and his sons began serving as priests, the Divine Presence began to dwell in the Mishkan and special offerings were brought, including a series of gifts by Nachshon ben Aminadav, the Prince of the Tribe of Judah (see below).

Nissan 7 (Monday, March 26): Joshua dispatched two scouts across the Jordan River to Jericho in order to gather intelligence in preparation for the entry to the Land of Israel and the conquering of Jericho. This year, Jews of the northern Samarian town Homesh, and Land-of-Israel-activists plan to return home and rebuild their destroyed community.

Nissan 10: The Prophetess Miriam, sister of Moses, passed away at the age of 126 - 39 years after the Exodus and exactly one year before the Children of Israel entered the Land of Israel.

Nissan 10: The Jordan River splits forty years after the Red Sea split (Joshua 4) and the nation of Israel, carrying the Holy Ark, crosses over into Israel opposite Jericho.

Nissan 13: King Achashverosh of Persia endorsed the Amalekite Haman's plan "to destroy, kill and annihilate all Jews, from young to old, infants and women, on a single day, on the 13th day of the 12th month, the month of Adar," sending out the decree to all 127 countries of the Persian Empire. Esther asked that a three-day fast (Nissan 14-16) be proclaimed during which the Jews would repent and pray for the success of her plan to appeal to the King uninvited.

Nissan 14 (Monday, April 2): Fast of the Firstborn.

Nissan 15-21/22 (evening of April 2-evening of April 9, in Israel and through April 10 in the Diaspora): Pesach (Passover). The Exodus occurred at midnight on the 15th.

Nissan 16: Esther appeared before King Achashverosh, despite not being summoned – a capital crime.

Nissan 17: Haman the Persian Amalekite was, himself, hanged on the gallows he had specifically prepared for Mordechai the Jew.

Nissan 21: The Red Sea Split for the Jewish people as they fled Egypt. Nachshon ben Aminadav of the tribe of Judah was the first to jump into the sea. Walking in up to his nose before the water split, and "the children of Israel walked across on the dry land in the midst of the sea." The Egyptians followed, but the water returned to its natural state, drowning them. The nation of Israel sang the "Song at the Sea" celebrating the miracle. The song is recited daily by Jews to this very day.

Nissan 27: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began on this day in 1943 and lasted 27 days, as Jewish fighters drove back Nazis with the small arms cache they had managed to smuggle and amass. Yom HaShoah v’HaGevura (Day of the Holocaust and of Courage) is observed on this day. Due to a prohibition on eulogies and mourning during the joyous month of Nissan, many communities mourn the victims of the Holocaust on Assara B’Tevet (Tevet 10) instead.

Nissan 28: Crumbling of the walls of Jericho, conquered by the nation of Israel after encircling the walls for seven days with the Holy Ark.

Rosh Chodesh Events at the Kotel and Temple Mount
* Monday evening, when Rosh Chodesh begins at nightfall, the monthly Sivuv Shearim (Circling of the Temple Mount Gates) will take place. Israeli pop legend Ariel Zilber will join the march and prayers, providing songs of longing for the long yearned-for Holy Temple. Police did not allow the event to take place last month due to Muslim rioting, but thousands are expected to take part in Monday’s sivuv, which will leave from the Western Wall Plaza at 7 PM. For more information, call Boaz at 052 429 5164.

* Rabbi David Bar Hayim will be leading a Nusach Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel Customs) Rosh Chodesh prayer service at the Kotel (Western Wall) at 6:45 AM Tuesday. “This will be the first time a minyan with nusach Eretz Yisrael has been held at the Kotel in many centuries!” a Machon Shilo spokesman said.

(Nusach Eretz Yisrael, in practice in Israel and elsewhere until approximately 800 years ago, is based on the Jerusalem Talmud and other primary sources including documents and prayer books found in the Cairo Geniza.)

* Rabbi Ezra Amichai will be leading festive Rosh Chodesh prayers at the Kotel as well, with singing and dancing in the tradition of Rabbis Nachman of Breslev and Shlomo Carlebach, beginning at 8 AM.