Rosh Chodesh is the first day of the month in the Hebrew calendar and is marked by the appearance of the new moon. The full moon is always fifteen days later on the 15th of the Hebrew month, often marking the start of Jewish holidays. In Nissan, Passover starts on the 15th. In 30-day lunar months, we celebrate Rosh Chodesh for two days, on the last day of the prior month and on the first day of the new month.
On Rosh Chodesh we have the opportunity to connect to the seed level energy of the month and inject greater control over our spiritual and physical well being. Each month has a unique energy influenced by a different planet and astrological constellation with two corresponding Hebrew letters as written about by Abraham the Patriarch in the "Sefer Yetzirah" or Book of Formation, one of the first books of Kabbalah.
The month of Nissan is the first month of the Hebrew calendar and is symbolized by the astrological sign of Aries. In the Book of Exodus G-d says to Moses and Aaron, "let this new moon be the first of all new moons and the new moon of the year". As the first month of the Lunar calendar, we have a unique opportunity to plant positive seeds that will determine the rest of the year for us. In fact the 16th Century Kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luria (the Ari), teaches that the first 12 days of Nissan are a time when we can connect to each of the 12 months and have the opportunity to set our intention through mediation and consciousness for each month of the year. Kabbalists also consider the first 6 months of the year, from Nissan - Elul, the male months during which time we can take action and plant seeds. The last half of the year from Tishrei - Adar are the female months during which time we can manifest all of the seeds planted and actions taken in prior months. The name of the month, Nissan comes from the period of Babylonian exile and is from the root word "nes" which means miracle or to elevate. As the first astrological sign of the calendar, those born under the sign of Aries are often considered the children of the universe with a "me, me, me" attitude with the potential to be selfish. Everyone can inject their consciousness on Rosh Chodesh and plant seeds throughout the month to convert this energy of selfishness to selflessness and become beings of sharing. When we overcome the desire to receive for the self alone and convert it into the desire to receive in order to share, we awaken the force of miracles available to us in Nissan and elevate to our highest selves.
According to the "Sepher Yetzirah", the Hebrew letters are spiritual frequencies that created the universe. A different Hebrew letter controls or influences the constellation and planet of the month. By connecting to these letters through meditation we can draw down specific energy to empower and enlighten us. The letters for the month of Nissan are Dalet and Hei (see below). Dalet created the Planet Mars, also the name of the Roman god of war. Accordingly, this is a month that also contains confrontations and battles. We learn that a war is always being fought within each of us and we can harvest the energy on Rosh Chodesh and throughout the month to resolve our inner conflict. The holiday of Passover which starts on the 15th of Nissan is a historical remembrance of breaking out of the literal bonds of slavery in Egypt. On a deeper level it is about escaping the bondage of our own ego, breaking free and winning the war against our personal addictions and enslavement on both a personal and professional level. Addictions are not just alcoholism or gambling, but can be self-righteousness, holding grudges, resentment, jealousy, etc.
The letter Hei created the constellation of Aries which symbolizes the Ram and is associated with the head. Those born under the sign of Aries are typically strong-willed and tend to rush into things head first with no tolerance for opposition. The childlike characteristics of Aries are the result of being the first astrological sign of the year, without having the benefit of seeing all of the other signs that follow. Like all astrological signs, the key is not to be subject to its general characteristics, but rather to understand the sign and to make corrections in our lives to rise above any pre-disposed traits.
The month of Nissan is the first month of the year and is well known for the holiday of Passover or Pesach. Passover is the first of three pilgrimage festivals where the Israelites presented themselves at the Temple to make offerings. In the time of the Temple the offerings were connected the "first-fruits of the barley" and the growing season. The festival is now connected to the Israelites exodus from Egypt and deliverance from slavery to freedom by the hand of G-d. In that sense, the entire month of Nissan is considered to be holy and joyous. Passover extends from the 15th day of Nissan through the 22 of Nissan (in Israel it ends on the 21st).
In Nissan we also have Shabbat HaGadol or the Great Shabbat. This Shabbat occurs immediately preceding Passover and we read a special Haftorah portion from the Book of Malachi. It is special for several reasons - the main reason being that it contains the secret of redemption. The Torah describes how G-d required each household to take a lamb and tie it to their bedposts on the 10th of Nissan - in advance of making the Passover offering. This was the first mitzvah completed by the Jewish nation and demonstrated certainty in G-d's word - creating a significant revelation of Light. Lambs were considered Egyptian idols at the time so the act of trusting in G-d and fulfilling a commandment, which went against the accepted practices of the day, shows amazing certainty. The elimination of idol-worshiping in our lives today, including spiritual slavery to money, bad relationships, health problems, our ego or a dead-end job allows us to obtain freedom and become our highest selves. This energy of redemption, going from bondage to freedom, is available on Shabbat HaGadol and carried throughout the entire week of Passover.
Another connection in Nissan is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was debated for several years before the Israeli Parliament agreed in 1951 to establish the day. The Rabbis argued that Tisha b'Av was already a day of remembrance of negative things that had befallen the Jewish people throughout history and another day would potentially create a victim mindset. The pain was so raw however that the Jews at the time fought hard and argued that the Holocaust was so vicious and terrible that it required its own day of remembrance. The day was established for the 27th of Nissan, after the Passover holiday and within the time during which the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising had taken place.
Have a great month and Rosh Chodesh Nissan! Plant seeds for the entire year and bring miracles into your life. Now, more than ever, we need to win the war over our ego to create a sense of unity amongst all of humanity and rid ourselves of the terrible plague that currently impacts us.