• Home
  • Parashah
  • Ask the Rabbi
  • Festivals
  • Freemasonry
  • Articles
  • About
  • Books
  • Media

    Starting the year – Bo

    Sh’mot Chapter 12 proclaims that Nisan (otherwise called Aviv), the month of the Exodus, is to be the first month of the year. Hence the months of the Jewish calendar are usually listed as Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, etc.

    However, the year as a whole begins with Rosh HaShanah in Tishri, so it seems that we have two new years (the Mishnah actually says there are four Rosh HaShanahs, but our concern is whether to prioritise Nisan over Tishri or the other way around).

    Agriculturally there were two calendar systems – one which celebrated the barley harvest in spring and one which celebrated the fruit harvest in autumn; but theologically Nisan began the months because that is the month when Israel left Egypt and became a nation; Tishri began the years because that is when the world began.

    This led to a nationalistic system beginning with the Exodus and a global system beginning with Creation. As a result, Judaism was a combination of both, with the nationalistic and the universalistic both having their place.

    An example: the Alenu prayer, which has two paragraphs, the first about our nation and the second about our world. Which aspect is the more important? Both!

    Comments are closed.