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How is Nissan considered the first month, if the year starts on Rosh Hashanah?

by Rabbi Ari Shishler

  

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Jews are anything but straightforward. We celebrate the New Year in the 7th calendar month!

Actually, Rosh Hashanah recalls when the world was created. In other words, it’s the New Year for the normal order of things. It’s the time of the year when G-d decides who will live or die (G-d forbid), how much each person will earn, and what each region’s rainfall will be like.

Rosh Hashanah was around since the beginning of Time.

In the Jewish year 2448, something drastic happened. G-d introduced His special People - a nation that lives beyond the normal and the natural. This “Chosen Nation” would not only hope for miracles, but would literally survive on them.

Nissan is the first month of our history as a Jewish nation
The month of the birth of this nation, ( later known as “the Jews”,) is Nissan. Even that name relates to miracles (the Hebrew root of the word, nes, means a miracle). Consider the story of what happened in that month - the supernatural escape of a beleaguered slave nation from the most powerful slave drivers ever.

Nissan is the first month of our history as a Jewish nation. Important dates in Nissan (mainly Pesach) are important for us as Jews. The Torah introduces this month to us as: “This month will be for you the first of months…1 Six months later, we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the New Year for all people and all life.

By counting every month from Nissan, we constantly commemorate the miracle that G-d performed when He took us out of slavery.2

Footnotes

  • 1. Exodus 12:1.
  • 2. Commentary of Nachmanides on above verse.

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
Nissan
The first month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which falls out in early spring, is known for the holiday of Passover which starts on the 15th of Nissan.
Pesach
Passover. A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.