Chodesh Tov!! We are entering the Hebrew month of Nissan, a month known as the ‘head of months’ (Rosh Hashana 10b/11a). We saw in Parshat Bo and also in the maftir last Shabbat, how it was on 1st of Nissan that Hashem spoke to Moshe and told him that the month of Nisan is always known as the first month of the year, in commemoration to the exodus out of Egypt which happened in the month of Nisan. This mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh, the new month and the setting up the Jewish calendar was the first mitzvah that Hashem commanded the Jewish people.
Many events occurred during this month including; The 1st of Nisan is the day the tabernacle was inaugurated, which we will learn about in parshat Shimini, on the inauguration day it was the leader of the tribe of Yehudah, Nachshon Ben Aminidav, who brought an offering for the inauguration of the tabernacle, this will be related in Parshat Naso. Also the 1st Nisan is known for a tragic event, the death of Nadav and Avihu, two of Aharon’s sons.
The 7th Nisan is known as the day when Joshua dispatched two spies across the Jordan River to Jericho, to gather information in preparation of the Israelites' battle with the first city in their conquest of the Holy Land. In Yericho, they were assisted and hidden by Rahav, a woman who lived inside the city walls, who was famous in Canaan before as being a harlot, however she informed the spies that the Jews should not fear entering Israel and she repented (Zevachim 16a). This is related in the early chapters in the book of Joshua.
Three days later, on the 10th Nisan, the Jews actually crossed the ‘Jordan’ river (Sota 33), with the Holy Ark carried by the Kohanim (priests) during the journey, the river parted for them, like the waters of the Red Sea were said to have split when the fathers and mothers left Egypt. Also the 10th of Nisan is remembered as the day of death of Moshe’s sister, Miriam, who died after living 126 years.
The 13th of Nisan is the anniversary date, when Haman ‘decreed’ the annihilation of the Jewish people. Fortunately the decree was later annulled.
The 15th of Nisan is famous for being the date of the exodus; the Korban Pesach took place the night before, when the Jews roasted the deity of the Egyptians, proving that the Egyptian idols are worthless. We always have the ‘Seder Night’ on the 15th Nisan, a night featuring matzot, bitter herbs, the retelling of the Exodus and a festive meal. Matzot symbolize humility, as every Jew should strive to be as humble as possible (Berachot 17).
The 16th of Nisan is the date when the ‘Manna’ (heavenly bread) stopped being miraculously rained from heaven, after falling down 40 years.
The 17th Nisan is famous as the day that the wicked Haman was hanged (Megillah 16a). This is related in chapter 7 of Megillah Esther.
The 26th Nisan is a sad day, as it commemorates the death of Joshua, who led the Jews for 28 years after the death of Moshe; he was so great the entire book of Joshua in the Tanach relates his tenure as leader.
The 28th Nisan is famous as the first city to fall to the Children of Israel in their conquest of the Promised Land, which was the fortified city of Yericho (Berachot 54a). For seven days, the Israelites marched around the city walls carrying the Ark, preceded by kohanim sounding the Shofar (Ram's horn). On the 7th day, the walls crumbled and the Jews conquered the city.
These are just highlights of what occurred during this glorious month, however the joyous festival of Pesach is observed during this month. All families prepare weeks before Pesach, making sure all bread/crumbs or anything Chametz, is totally removed from their houses and possessions. Pesach is one of the three pilgrimage festivals, the others being Shavuot and Succot.
Hope you all have a fantastic week and Rosh Chodesh. Written by Michael Zaroovabeli from Ohr Sameach in Jerusalem.