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  • Andrew Roland

Parashat Tazria- Shabbat Hachodesh 5776

Today we are starting a new year! The month of Nisan for all the biblical period, from the book of Shmot we read a few minutes ago and until the Megillat Esther considered the last of the biblical books, used to be the first of the Hebrew months. Rashi goes further and says that to establish Nisan as the first month of the year was the first Mitzvah, the first commandments the Children of Israel ever received. As the nature in springtime, in Nisan the seed of our people started to sprout, when our ancestors became free people. In Nisan was the first collective trial: what will human beings prefer? The security and stability of slavery or the uncertainty and infinite possibilities of freedom? In Nisan was the first miracle of our people: when human beings chose the uncertain over the expected. When they chose the desert over the fertile fields of Egypt. When they chose to go after this divine voice they couldn’t see or really know, that was at the same time new and ancient; over the known voices of their society, that kept them enslaved but they were familiar at least. According to the Mishna in the Tractate of Rosh Hashanah, Nisan is Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the year, for kings. Not to be confused with Tishrei, Rosh Hashanah for the count of the years, the sabbatical and jubilee years and others. There are some commentators that see the figure of the king as a symbol of consciousness, as the king is the person that has all the choices open in front of him. In a way, the king or queen is the first between the free men and women and freedom, freedom depends a lot on your own consciousness and awareness, much more that on the physical conditions surrounding you. Nisan was chosen as the first month because on it started the awareness about human freedom and freedom and awareness made it appropriate to be the first month for kings. Tishrei is all about nature, about Creation. Nisan is about freedom, about the human condition. It is interesting that he main theme in the Machzor of Rosh Hashanah, the one in Tishrei, is G-d’s kingdom and Majesty over all the Earth. We blow the Shofar and proclaim: G-d is King and everything is done by His word! Half a year later, in Nisan, it is the opposite: is G-d the one that raises man and woman and says: flourish, sprout like the spring! Be whatever you want to be! Be free of the prisons you are imprisoned by and leave towards the infinite options of freedom! That’s the reason Nisan is also the month of redemption. Redemption is the liberation of human beings from the shackles of Kohelet’s vanity, the ones that whisper in our ears: “Vanity of vanities, everything is vanity, there is nothing new under the Sun”. And it is true that under the Sun of nature there is nothing but eternal cycles that never end, the water, the earth, the planets, even our bodies that die and then return to the dust. Everything is a cycle. However, the faint light of the New Moon of Nisan, of this Rosh Hodesh today, reveal to us the great freedom that we say all the time in the Siddur, probably without realizing it: “Hamechadesh betuvo bekhol yom tamid maase bereshit”, “the one that renews on his kindness every day the Creation”. Or in other words, the New Moon of Nisan is the recognition that every moment is a new moment, there is no second that is similar to any other before it. There is no moment similar to any other that will come. There is no old in the World. Everything is new, everything is renewed, everything is fresh, everything happens in this moment for the first and last time. Including this sermon. If we learn to connect with this consciousness of renewal, we will never get old. We won’t get tired or bored. Even with the passing of the years remains young in his or her soul. Because freedom… is a state of mind. It is both a divine and a royal awareness. Royal because the king is the symbol of the person that is free from the state of mind of the slave and knows that every moment the world is created again. Everything is always new. Shanah Tovah, a good year. Hodesh Tov, a good month. Hitchadshut Tovah, a good renewal.

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