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The Systems of the Jewish Year

A Different Kind of Rosh Hashanah!

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Depending on who and when you ask the Jewish year either begins in the month of Tishrei, at Rosh Hashanah time, or a couple of weeks before Pesach in Nissan.

Why do we have two new years?

The answer lies in the season of each New Year. Tishrei and Rosh Hashanah occur in the fall when the trees are becoming bare, the sun is shining less and the harvest is coming to a close. There is a certain spirituality implicit in this season of autumn. When the physical world is in decline room is created for the spiritual aspect of life. Rosh Hashanah, the ten days of Teshuvah, Yom Kippur are times that we cut down on our sleep, our food and our general physical existence and we think eternity and other-worldliness.

By contrast, Nissan is in the spring when flowers are budding, the sun is shining and life is being renewed. This is a different type of New Year where the focus is on the beautiful world around us that G-d created. At this time of year, rather than withdraw from the physical we bask in it. Rather than our spirituality competing for space in our lives with the physical we imbue all of the worldliness that surrounds us with holiness and sanctification.

In Nissan we affirm that ‘nature’ is not a distraction from kedusha but rather a receptacle for it. We use the gifts that G-d gave us, our homes; our families; our businesses; our health; our art and our talents; and even our weaknesses, all to serve G-d with happiness.

This is the secret of Rosh Chodesh Nissan. “G-d took us out of Egypt in the month of spring…”

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