The first of Nisan is one of the four Jewish new years. It is really “the” new year, although we generally consider Rosh Hashanah to be the Jewish new year. Rosh Chodesh Nisan is the new year of Kings, which seems very appropriate considering it’s spring in much of the world and kings play big part in the story of Passover. Jewish kings are decended from the tribe of Judah, which is the tribe associated with the month of Nisan.
There is another “king” we will be honoring this Pesach – the sun! Don’t worry, I’m not talking about sun worship here. But the sun is the “king” of the lights in the sky.
“And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars.” (Genesis 1:16)
According to tradition, which does sometimes defy science, the sun returns to its exact position in the sky that it was on the 4th day of creation every 28 years, which we call Birkhat HaChamah (Blessing the Sun). Now, we know that it probably isn’t scientific, but we’re talking mythic truth — not science. Every 28 years for millenia, Jews have gone out to bless the Divine by blessing the act of creation. In our lifetime this has such resonance. Just think for a minute where you were 28 years ago? Where will you be in 28 years? What kind of a world do you wish to see at the next return of the sun? This happens on the morning of April 8th, 2009, which is the morning before the first seder of Passover (at sundown).
Nisan is also the month of the Maiden, but how does that correspond to the kings? Maidens, historically, have been the most powerless against the King and we have plenty of stories of the abuse of power. More important thought, have of stories that tell us that the Maiden (or a Fool) is one of the few that can melt the heart of a King. The power of the Maiden over a King is the story less frequently told, but the one that must be told. It is the story of Pesach. The child-like, powerless tribe of Yisrael who is trapped in perpetual adolecense must overcome the king of Egypt to be free and “grow up.” The threads of the story are there, if you look. If you prefer a more direct Maiden’s power story, then explore the stories of the Daughters of Tzelafchad, Abishag,and young Miriam — just to name a few.
It is also important to note the letter of the month, Hei (ה). The letter hei is the is associated with the power of speech, which is the primary tool of the Moses, Miriam, and Aaron. It is also the primary power of the Daughters of Tzefalchad. They all spoke out and the world changed. Speech is the power of prophet. You are not a prophet if you just see. You are only a prophet if you speak. Through speech prophets can change the world. At Pesach, we are commanded to retell, and thus relive, our story. The “hei” is also a powerful letter in Jewish tradition. The addition of the letter hei to names is also transformative: Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. The addition of the letter “hei” is the symbol of initiation. From that moment on Abraham and Sarah had no choice but to speak their truth. Not surprising, the letter hei is also associated with the Emperor card of the tarot. Emperors can create or destroy with a single word. Two very powerful words are associated with the hei: hinayni and YHVH. Hinayni means “here I am.” When YHVH asks where you are, that is the answer. Adam says it. Moses says it. It is a proclamation of your existence. YHVH, of course, is the secret name of the Divine revealed to the Children of Israel.
“Keep the New-Moon of Aviv / Ripe-Grain.
You are to observe Passover to YHWH your God,
for in the New-Moon of Aviv
YHWH your God took you out of Egypt, at night.”
(Deut. 16:1 – Everett Fox edition)
Most important is to remember that Nisan is the month of miracles. As inner.org points out, the word Nisan is similar to the word “Nissim” (ניסים) which means miracle. Miracles are built into this month. I think we can all use more belief in miracles, but the specific message of the need for human/Divine partnership for miracles to occur. There are very few miracles in the Torah or Talmud where a human partner is not required. Couldn’t G!d(dess) have freed the Jews from Egypt without Moses, Aaron, and Miriam? I suppose so — but it didn’t happen that way. G!d(dess) works through human hands more frequently than any other way. We must commit to being the hands of Shekhinah, the manifest presence of G!d(dess), in the world. We, humanity, must work to create the miracles that are waiting to happen.
This Nisan, this month of miracles, what miracle large or small will you bring into the world?