Awakening From Above

The Month of Nisan and Passover.

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Sense of the Month

The 'sense' or faculty corresponding to Nisan is speech. Just as Hashem created the world with speech, so do we create our world, or at least our experience of the world, with speech. A slave is someone who has no voice, nor the power to create his or her reality. We can only experience freedom when we can refer to ourselves as free. The word haggadah means 'telling'. During the Seder we speak at length about our Redemption from collective and personal 'slavery'. Thus, each year we receive the ability to proclaim our freedom on higher and higher levels.

Astrological Sign of the Month

The sign of Nisan is taleh, the 'lamb', or Aries. In Nisan Hashem took us, like a flock of lambs, out of the nation of our oppressors. We were meek, not yet desiring our freedom. Hashem leapt over the whole issue of our egos, and offered us Redemption. We were commanded to commemorate this Redemption with the Passover offering, which was a lamb. Even if we have been meek or ambivalent about our freedom, on Pesach we can offer ourselves up to the experience of Redemption.

Tribe of the Month

Nisan is the tribe of Judah. The meaning of the name Judah is 'to give thanks', alluding to speech. The archetype of kingship, King David, is a descendant of Judah. Kingship also alludes to speech, for a king rules over his people through his words, which are received as commands: "…for the word of the king is his rule."[6] The Talmud says that Nisan initiates the "New Year of Kings". It is thus a new beginning for the power of leadership, for speech, and also for expressing thanks. Because of the Redemption in this month, "…it is our duty to thank, laud praise, glorify, exalt, adore, bless, elevate, and honor the One who did all these miracles for our ancestors and for us."

Body Part of the Month

The body part of Nisan is the right foot, representing chesed, 'loving-kindness'. Passover is connected with hesed. One meaning of the word pesach is 'loving'.

Another meaning of the word pesach is 'to skip', since Hashem skipped over the homes of the Jews during the Plague of the First Born. A person skips by using one foot at a time. This alludes to the miraculous, since normal walking uses both feet.

Time of the Year

Nisan is the first month of Spring. When it arrives, something about the increasing light, the warmer air, and the sprouting vegetation, may enhance our feeling that life is a gift and a blessing. Deeper within this instinctual feeling is the recognition that life is given to us whether we 'deserve' it or not. This is a deep level of humility, and it brings forth a tremendous sense of gratitude. During the eight days of Pesach, as we eat matzah, the bread of humility, we should strive to internalize this idea. Life is a miraculous gift descending from above. It cannot be earned, only humbly received. According to one opinion, Nisan is when human life was created.

The Torah calls Pesach Shabbat, 'Sabbath'. The nature of the weekly Shabbas is that comes on it's own, entirely without our involvement. The other holidays are created with some measure of human collaboration. Passover is a gift of awakening from above.

This Passover season, may we experience the newness and freshness of life. May this year be a year of creativity and generosity and new beginnings. May we become leaders, humble and kind leaders, who 'skip over' the apparent ego in others. May Hashem bless us to witness the beginning of the miracle of all miracles, the Redemption of all humanity from all levels of slavery.

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Rabbi DovBer Pinson

Rabbi DovBer Pinson is the Rosh Yeshiva of the IYYUN Yeshiva, a Yeshiva for adults. He is also the founder of the IYYUN Center, a center for Jewish enrichment in Brooklyn, New York, and and is the author of more than ten books on Kabbalah and spirituality.