Welcome to the first taste of freedom. Nissan is here.
Remember those tiny seeds you planted during Shevat, two moons ago? Remember how you tended them lovingly, all month long in the spiritual underground? And then, during the next month of Adar, how you gave them sunshine, and water, and joy? This month, those seeds shoot into bloom in all their new, green, freedom-loving glory. Our story of liberation comes with the start of Spring, and we are all ready for the release.
This month, we celebrate the start of one of our new years in the Jewish calendar. This might be surprising, but there are actually four new years. The best known is Rosh Hashanah, which marks the birthday of humanity. But it’s this month of Nissan that G-d declared to be “the beginning of the months,” to honor the escape from Egypt. Nissan is when the Jewish people became free, and started owning their own time.
Nissan is the month to start letting go of anything that holds you back — whether it’s a seed hull, a limiting belief, or an unhealthy relationship. Just like the Isrealites leaving enslavement in Egypt, this the moment. Like the buds peeking out on every tree, you too are freed to bloom anew.
Nissan’s standout moment is, of course, Passover: the most commonly observed and radically experiential holiday on the Jewish calendar, all to commemorate our ancestors' road to freedom.
On the full moon of Nissan, the Passover Seder encourages us to lose ourselves in the story of the Exodus. By reenacting the Israelite’s dramatic escape to freedom in an elaborate dinner ritual, Passover makes sure we engage all five of our senses. Why? Because on Passover, we’re meant to remember that we personally left Egypt, that we personally are still becoming free.
Through song and ritual and food and praise and even running wild through the house trying to find the Afikomen, Passover invites expansive freedom into our bodies, souls, and communities.
The Hebrew name for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which literally means “straits” or “narrow places.” This poetic naming emphasizes that now is time to leave behind the places that constrict our spirits. During Nissan, we burst vibrantly open and become our highest selves.
What would it look like to audaciously leave your narrow places behind? Who’s restricting you from your highest self? What would it take for you to let go and to know, deep in your bones, there can be miracles… if you believe?
Does this sound daunting? Don’t worry; you’re not meant to make this journey alone. Nissan is all about sharing stories — it’s the perfect time to speak your truth and find your authentic voice.
Judaism has a deep respect for the power of words. In fact, cruel speech meant to harm is one of the worst offenses in the Jewish tradition. It’s called lashon hara, literally “evil tongue,” and includes all gossip, lies, false testimonies, and insults.
Part of creating a freer world means finding ways to speak that heal instead of harm.
One resource is the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) method, created by Marshall Rosenberg. He grew up being picked on for being Jewish, and he understood what a difference it makes to take care with the power of words.
NVC trains us to pay attention, listen closely to what others say, and honor the deep desire we all have to feel heard.
We also take inspiration from the story of Exodus!
Moses was born with a speech impediment, and he grew up to become the Israelites’ spokesman in their quest for freedom. He communicated powerfully and courageously on behalf of his people. His legendary oratory can guide us as we raise our own voices to challenge injustice and speak up for what we truly want.
Nissan’s promise of freedom is wrapped up with these questions: How can we express ourselves more clearly and compassionately this month? How can we speak up about injustices and make sure that we’re heard? What must we say to be free?
As Melinda Ribner teaches in Kabbalah Month by Month, Nissan is the time to clear your throat and be heard!
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