Coming Back To Life - Rosh Chodesh Nissan
In the previous month, Adar, the twelfth and final month of the Hebrew calendar brought the whole year into a full circle. This month is Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the rebirth of the Hebrew calendar, the awakening of intense energy known to spring, and the divine space for the holiday of Pesach. Nissan begins the new cycle of the Hebrew calendar and within it are incredible secrets on how to navigate your month according to Kabbalah. Kabbalah teaches that every month has its own unique energy and ideal personal and spiritual influences.
This blog post will take you deeper into understanding the energy of Nissan and its opportunities to grow spiritually and personally. You will learn about why Nissan is considered the start of the new calendar while Tishrei, the month of Rosh Hashana is not, you will also gain deeper Kabbalistic teachings on Nissan and tools to optimize the energy of the month. According to Sefer Yetzira, the Book of Formation authored by Avraham Avinu, the Hebrew letters are building blocks and the DNA of the universe. Thus, every letter represents the sign of the month and the ruling planet. More on this to come for Nissan.
Judaism supports and integrates monthly renewal for the purpose of letting go and restarting the month. Rosh Chodesh is marked by the birth of the new moon when the moon is at its smallest. By doing this mitzvah of marking the new moon, we celebrate the start of the new month while moving forward from the past. The concept of moving forward allows for people to start new, forgive, and create space within themselves to receive, improve and embrace change. These are just a few benefits of celebrating the beauty of Rosh Chodesh.
For the purpose of understanding and connecting each month, here is a brief background on Adar and how it creates the pathway for Nissan.
Adar is the catalyst of standing up against evil as we learn from the Megillat Ester. In Adar, we are challenged to see the opportunity for growth in difficult moments and find the hidden gems of happiness within the struggle. For whatever reason, a reason we may not know or ever find out in this lifetime - our soul needs to go through challenges for learning and expansion. Adar gives us this opportunity to see the good in the bad while lifting the veil and seeing that everything comes from God.
To read more on Adar, click here and here. As Adar paved the way to joy from within, Nissan takes this joy outwards as we welcome the energy of spring, rejuvenation, and renewal. This pinnacle moment of spring starts on the holiday of Pesach - the holiday that must be aligned with the spring equinox.
Energy of Nissan
To bring everything into a full picture, in the Hebrew month of Tishrei, home to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we planted seeds for the year that we wanted to see flourish. In the winter months, hopefully, we nurtured and watered these seeds and now as we shift to the spring, they are finally sprouting for the summer. Now that energy is shifting we see a change in nature as life around us becomes more lively and colorful. This transition allows us to step outside our homes, and take more action on our goals, desires, and intentions while we have the support of God to guide our path. In the previous month Adar, the sign of Pisces, it was as if our souls were preparing for their big emergence into the world, they are now beginning to wake up as they are reborn. In Nissan, things are beginning to move faster, people tend to be short-tempered, full of heat, getting upset easier, and looking to fight.
The energy of Nissan is of rebirth, renewal, and rejuvenation. Seeing as the world around us and ourselves are ‘coming back to life' after the winter months together with the holiday of Pesach, there is a strong feeling of returning back to Self.
Rebirthing is a process of returning back to Self but in a flourished state. You return back to who you are but better than before the rebirthing process. Before the rebirth, you are at your lowest, and once when you are reborn, you become renewed in a new state of being, in a new body, mind, and state. It is a brand new beginning.
Once you rebirth you begin to lead a new way of life and this truly connects to the rebirth of the Jewish nation during Pesach/Passover. The name ‘Passover’ is used because the Creator passed over the Hebrew’s homes in the final plague of Egypt. The “passing over” is also a “leap” and reminds us we all have the ability to leap into a new way of life. Nissan corresponds to the Hebrew word Nas (flee/escape). Nissan encourages us to flee from the past, break the chains that were holding us back, move forward to a new and higher place, start over, and heal old habits and behaviors that no longer serve us. Our personal and external wars are a result of slavery to desires, fears, doubts, and habits. In Nissan, we have the opportunity to break out of our personal slavery, create order (seder) in our lives and liberate ourselves to create a harmonious life in the year to come. In order to do just that, we learn about the nature of the zodiac sign to rise above it and form awareness related to it. Learning and having awareness will give us the ability to overcome our own nature, past obstacles, difficulties, failures, and anything that is holding us back from stepping into our best selves. The essence of Nissan is to break free from our limitation of selfish desires, doubts, limiting beliefs, and fears - that is true freedom.
Since Nissan is the first month of the year The Ari teaches us that the first 12 days of Nissan connect to each of the 12 months of the year. On the 13th day due to the connection to unity associated with the number 13, we are able to strengthen the effects of what we did during the first 12 days.
Tishrei vs Nissan Although Nissan is head of all the months, Tishrei is the head of the year - both potent with energy. According to great scholars like Rabbi Eliezer, the month of Tishrei is when the universe was created and has the energy of life. In Tishrei, there is a lot of action coming from our side. We pray for life, prosperity, health, and abundance on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
Therefore it is understood that during Tishrei we have a job to cultivate energy within ourselves to bring down the light from above - this takes great effort and work, it’s not easy. This is the energy of life where the amount of effort and dedication determines the quality of your spiritual and physical life. In Tishrei, the energy stems from us and goes upwards.
This is hinted in the order of the Hebrew alphabet where the last three letters resh (ר), shin (ש), tav (ת) reveal that the energy of Tishrei is bottom, up. In Nissan, there is a special closeness to God as we celebrate Pesach and the birth of the Jewish nation. In Nissan, the Jewish people were redeemed from slavery both physically and spiritually. They were also given the first commandment (mitzvah) of following the Hebrew calendar, with Nissan being the first month of all the months (Exudos 12:1-2). This is an instruction to the people of Israel to honor holidays, follow a lunar calendar, and mark the birth of the new moon (Rosh Chodesh).
The energy of Nissan naturally comes down from the Creator and He gives us endless light. Nissan is the first of the six summer months, which correspond to six levels of direct light (in Divine service–"awakening from above"). This is hinted in its synonym "the month of spring" (אביב), whose first two letters, alef (א) and beit (ב), are in the direct or straight order of the Hebrew alphabet. Nissan (relating to the word ‘Nes’ which means miracles), is rich with miracles that go above nature. We see this in Exodus with the splitting of the Red Sea. In contrast to the energy of Tishrei where we need to put in the effort to receive the life force energy, the light we get comes from above and down. All we need to do is have a vessel (kli) to receive the energy. In Nissan, we can experience miracles beyond nature coming from above, downwards.
According to the Maharal (Judah Loew ben Bezalel, also known as Rabbi Loew, the Maharal of Prague) Tishrei resembles the intellect and head - a time when we do an accounting of the soul and our lives. Nissan resembles the heart. The heart sustains everything. It symbolizes the return of life after the winter months.
Astrological Sign Nissan corresponds to the zodiac sign of Aries. Aries are leaders, being pioneers in things that no one has done before, and sometimes failing where no one has failed before. Aries take initiative, they are hot-tempered and very energetic – they are the children of the zodiac.
Aries belongs to the element of fire. According to the Ari, this element together with Aires represents creativity and is the opposite of borning. For example, when you look at fire you can see how it creates forms and shapes continuously. Similar to Aries, they are reshaping and reforming their own path and influencing people around them.
The fire that arises from Aries gives them personal power and renewable energy. When Nissan begins, everyone is fueled by this fire and it allows each and every person to connect to this renewable, rejuvenating force. This is also related to the secret of Passover when we rejoice in breaking out of slavery and the chains of the past into freedom and renewal.
However, the fire of Aries needs to be tamed. With great power and fuel, the fire can come with it great pride and ego. Aries are also likely not to learn from their mistakes. The pioneer, the adventurer, and the risk-taker side of Aries strongly connect with having an ego. Be aware of being blinded by the ego and insensitive to others. Typical Aries can quickly fall into the trap of insensitivity and not be aware of their environment; they tend to have so much inner noise that they cannot create space for external information. In Hebrew Aries translates to Taleh (טלה) in Gematria (every Hebrew letter has a numerical value) equals 44, which is also the numerical value of the word דם (Dam = blood). ט = 9 ל = 30 ה = 5 ד = 4 מ = 40 The blood affects Aries and the season in numerous ways like being hot-tempered and impulsive. In addition according to Kabbalists, being as Nissan is the first of the months, it makes it vulnerable to wars and conflicts in the coming year (exactly as in Rosh Hashanah, when livelihood and life are being determined). Thus it is recommended to be cautious during this time of anger and falling into the trap of temper. The only way to fight the unfavorable side of the fire is to do it with positive fire like love, enthusiasm, and kindness. The Ramhal (Rabbi Moshe Haim Luzzato) says that every time we feel depressed we should act as if we are happy. This was the preparations from Purim - increasing joy during difficulties. When we do a joyous act, our brain secrets serotonin, uplifting our mood. We need to learn to balance ourselves out by moving from one extreme to the other and by doing so, taking control. Letter Hei According to Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Formation authored by Avraham Avinu, Aries was created with the letter ה (Hei). The letter ה (Hei), possesses a great deal of power. Hei corresponds to the Sefirat Malchut, which represents life in our world and our desire to receive. Hei also represents the vessel of the soul.
Ruling planet + the letter Dalet Sefer Yetzira tells us that Mars, the planet that controls Nissan, was created with the letter ד, (Dalet). The meaning behind the letter ד (Dalet) stems from the Hebrew word דל (pronounced “dull”), meaning poor. It symbolizes the aspects of poverty and lack. The letter Hei and Dalet are very similar and what differentiates them is the letter י (Yod). Looking at the letter ה Hei, it is the letter ד Dalet with the י Yod inside. Mars is the planet of war and each person is their own warrior as we face our own personal wars within. According to Kabbalah, each conflict we will face will appear in the first two weeks of the Nissan with the peak of its energy during the full moon.
Tribe According to Sefer Yetzirah, the tribe of Judah corresponds to the month of Nissan. Judah was situated on the east side of the tabernacle. Judah is the king and went first in the order of marching in the desert. King David and all of his descendants come from the tribe of Judah. The root of Yehudah (Juda) is ‘Hoda’ meaning, to give thanks (the sense of Nissan).
The king rules his people by the power of his speech, an idea found in the verse, "For the king's word is his sovereign power." The month of Nissan is "the new year for kings" (Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1)
Sense Speech corresponds to the sense of Nissan. The sense of speech implies one's ability to express and communicate one’s deepest feelings and insights. Our world (which was created by the letter Hei of Nissan) is based on expression and communication. We also know that through the power of speech, Hashem created the universe. Thus, be aware this month of the power of speech in leadership, building, or destroying relationships.
Challenges for Nissan and How to Transform Them As a result of the fuel from Aries, one may experience challenges that relate to being impulsive, not thinking before acting or speaking, and getting angry. Aries have a difficulty learning from their mistakes so take this month and pause, reset yourself, learn from the past, and be aware when the fuel of fire is kicking in. Next, be aware of self-centered behavior. Since Aries is the child of the zodiac, they tend to act like children. Children can be selfish and not consider the feelings of the other person. With this knowledge, transcend selfishness into selflessness. Tune in to what the other person is feeling. Be honest with yourself and allow others to be honest with you, even if it hurts your ego. Take the challenges this month and transform them into ways of spiritual and personal growth. Remember, the goal isn’t the outcome but rather the process and how you treat people along the way. Treat people with love and kindness this month, speak to the soul of the other, and stick to your boundaries. If you enjoyed this blog post and learned something new, consider supporting Elisheva's work at Visual Kabbalah here. To learn Kabbalistic secrets on Pesach and elevate your holiday - click here Chodesh tov and Hag Sameach!
Sources: Inner (2022). The Month Of Nisan According To The Book Of Formation (SEfer Yetzirah). Retrieved from https://www.inner.org/times/nissan/nissan.htm Rabbi Schwats (2022). The <onth of Nissan - A Unique Possession. Retrieved from https://www.yeshiva.co/midrash/755 Yeshem (2022). NISAN – ניסן – The First Month Of The Year is Also The Month Of Aviv אביב - retrieved from http://www.yeshshem.com/kabbalah-blog-nissan-5771.htm
Rabbi Youdkevitch (2022). Nisan - Aries. Retrieved from https://livekabbalah.org/nisan-aries/