Thursday, April 7, 2016

Rosh Chodesh Nisan- Happy New Year

Hachodesh hazeh lakhem rosh chodashim rishon hu lakhem l’choshei Hashanah.
This month is for you the beginning of months; it is the first of the months of the year for you. (Shemot 12:2)
Shana tova. Happy new year. Today is the first day of the year. While we celebrate Rosh Hashanah in the seventh month of the year, and count our years from then, The year begins in the spring, with Nisan. For most nowadays, the idea of multiple beginnings to the year seems completely foreign but for ancient peoples it was a common occurrence. It is much like celebrating the Queen's birthday on the last Monday before May 25 (at least in Canada. In Australia it's the second Monday in June. In the UK it is the first Saturday in June)
 There are four new years in the Jewish calendar: The first of Nissan is New Year for Kings and for festivals; the first of Elul is New Year for the cattle-tithe, according to R. Eliezer and R. Simeon, it is on the first of Tishri. The first of Tishri is new year's day, for ordinary years, and for sabbatical years and jubilees; and also for the planting of trees and for herbs. On the first day of Shevat is the New Year for trees, according to the school of Shammai; but the school of Hillel says it is on the fifteenth of the same month.
Each marks a special point in the year. For those involved in agriculture, knowing from when to count a new year for planting or for animals was vital. For records keeping, a new year in a monarch's role is important. Rosh Hashanah counts from the creation of the world. It is Earth's birthday. But seasons, and in the Jewish calendar, the year begins with the rebirth of spring.
In my home, we have plants year round. Most are house plants, adding to the decor and the air quality, but some are more practical. We try to keep herbs growing. We begin seeds during the winter to prolong the growing season. With the availability of grow lights, seed-starting soils, and fertilizers, planting and growing, even in colder climates, is no longer dependent upon the seasons. Heat and electricity reduce our dependence on the season for warmth and light. We no longer fear the cold and the dark.
And yet... There is a joy to spring, a lightness to our steps. There is a feeling of freedom as we unwrap ourselves from the layers of sweaters, winter coats, scarves, hats, and gloves. Warm weather clothing seems more colourful. Flowers begin to bloom, making the Earth's spring clothing more colourful as well.
As we begin to emerge from our monochromatic winter we also begin to shed the dark, drab, cold feelings for more welcoming, warm, and colourful smiles and greetings. Our congregational snowbirds return. We begin to plan our s'darim, sending out invitations to celebrate with family and friends. We open our doors to invite all inside.
As spring begins, Rav Sean, Jesse, Gavriel, and Keren invite all to share the season with us. On Shabbat afternoons we can be found walking in the park, playing ball, or even climbing trees. Come join us to celebrate this new year.
Shabbat shalom.

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