Tazria - 5763
Rosh Chodesh Nissan –
The Month of Spring
This past Thursday, we celebrated Rosh
Chodesh Nissan. The holiday of Rosh Chodesh always symbolizes renewal as the
moon is renewed, and this is especially true of the month of Nissan, that is
permanently associated with redemption and renewal.
The eighth day of the consecration of the priests occurred on Rosh Chodesh
Nissan, and that was the day that the “impossible” happened. HaShem forgave
the Jewish People for the sin of the Golden Calf and the Mishkan was
erected. The relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu that had prevailed at
Sinai was renewed and restored.
The Parshat ha-shavua begins “ishah ki tazria” (Vayikra 12:2), “When a woman
conceives,” and the Hebrew word for “conceives” contains the root “zayin,” “resh,”
“ayin” that spells the word “seed.” The act of reproduction, one of the
“nisim nistarim,” hidden miracles embedded within nature, is the example par
excellence of physical and, since the soul and its Creator are partners in
the process, spiritual renewal.
Nissan is the Month of Spring and Pesach is the Holiday of Spring. The
Hebrew Calendar is lunar, and by itself that would result in the months of
the calendar with their holidays migrating through the seasons. But there is
an adjustment mechanism built into the system to make sure that Nissan
remains “Chodesh HaAviv,” the Month of Spring, and that is by the periodic
insertion of an additional month of Adar, the month of joy.
As a boy, I remember being pleasantly surprised each year by the start of
spring training for the major league baseball teams, especially for my
favorite team, the New York Yankees, that I would usually hear about on the
radio, or watch on TV. I also remember feeling some jealousy regarding those
people who were lucky enough to live in a climate that allowed swimming all
year round. But I recognized that there was a minor negative aspect of such
a climate; namely, the monotony of no change of season, expressed (this is
certainly not the true meaning of the passuk) in Kohelet (1:9), “Ayn chadash
tachat ha-shemesh,” There is nothing new under the (Floridian) sun.
As the color green emerges from the earth in the form of a lovely “carpet”
of green grass, and leaves form on the trees, spring represents the renewal
of nature, the renewal of hope, the renewal of faith. The green of spring
was my mother, A”H’s favorite color. I remember a science fiction story to
the effect that when mankind had colonized the moon, or perhaps it was Mars,
everything available on earth could be duplicated, except the color green.
Therefore there had to be shipments of plants from earth, so that the
colonists could preserve their mental and emotional health.
The Megilah that is read on Pesach is “Shir HaShirim,” the Song of Songs:
“My Beloved called out and said to me,
‘Arise, My love, My fair one, and go forth.
For the winter has passed,
The season of rain is over, and it is gone.
The blossoms are seen in the land;
The time of your song has arrived,
And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.’ ”
Shir HaShirim (2:11-12)
The metaphor is also the springtime of the soul, when the rain and the
clouds separating it from HaShem have passed:
“I went down into the garden of nuts,
To see the fruit of the valley;
To see whether the vine had blossomed,
Whether the pomegranates were in flower.
Without my knowing it,
My soul set me among the chariots of a princely people.”
Shir HaShirim (7:11-12)
And we anticipate reciting the Prayer for Dew on the first day of Pesach:
“The depths of the earth yearn for His droplet;
By the remembrance of dew we exalt the omnipotence of G-d;
Therefore it is inserted into the Mussaf Prayer;
Dew that will be used to revive
Those sleeping in the clefts of the rock.”
“Dew, let it drop sweetly on the blessed land,
With the delicacies of heaven satisfy us with blessing;
To enlighten from amid the darkness
The faithful and steadfast nation, that is drawn after You.”
Selections from the Machzor (Tefilat Tal)
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel