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The Jewish Year's Cycle

If we delve deeper, the cycle of each year is a microcosm of our history.

Dear friends,

“This month shall be to you the beginning of the months” (Shemot 12:2). The first thing Hashem commanded us after leaving Egypt was to calculate the months, and that Nissan is the first one!

Now for all those who thought that Rosh Hashanah was the ‘Jewish New Year, know that there are, in fact, FOUR - as per the first Mishna in Rosh Hashanah. However, the beginning of the count of the months is, in fact, Nissan!

The significance of this can be seen by looking at our annual festivals. Our year begins with Pesach, signifying our creation as a nation through open miracles - to the extent that our sages tell us (Mechilta Beshalach 3), ‘A maidservant saw more miracles at the Yam Suf than the prophet Yechezkal ever saw.’ It continues with Shavuot when we accept the Torah, the purpose of everything -  again with majestic visuals. Next up, Sukkot, celebrating our travels with Hashem to our final destination—the Holy Land! Then Chanukah, where a hidden miracle (the war) and a clear miracle (the oil) joined forces. And finally, each year finishes with Purim, where there were no open miracles, simply a bizarre sequence of events that brought our salvation.

If we delve deeper, the cycle of each year is a microcosm of our history. We began our journey as a nation 3336 years ago while experiencing G-d’s majesty firsthand, but as time passed, these displays defying the laws of nature became rarer. Still, during the time of the first temple, ten open miracles routinely occurred (see Avot 5:5) until its destruction. But subsequently, we didn’t merit open miracles anymore—not even during the second temple. 

However, the closeness of Purim to Pesach and the mandatory juxtaposition of the two (even when there are two Adars) teach us that Hashem's hand is there to guide us through the entire cycle; simply, sometimes, it’s more apparent than others. 

Sholom S. Mimran


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