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Rosh Chodesh Nissan - New Year For Kings

אַרְבָּעָה רָאשֵׁי שָׁנִים הֵם. בְּאֶחָד בְּנִיסָן רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לַמְּלָכִים וְלָרְגָלִים. בְּאֶחָד בֶּאֱלוּל רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לְמַעְשַׂר בְּהֵמָה. רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר וְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמְרִים, בְּאֶחָד בְּתִשְׁרֵי. בְּאֶחָד בְּתִשְׁרֵי רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לַשָּׁנִים וְלַשְּׁמִטִּין וְלַיּוֹבְלוֹת, לַנְּטִיעָה וְלַיְרָקוֹת. בְּאֶחָד בִּשְׁבָט, רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לָאִילָן, כְּדִבְרֵי בֵית שַׁמַּאי. בֵּית הִלֵּל אוֹמְרִים, בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר בּוֹ:

There are four New Years: On the first of Nisan is the New Year for kings and for the Festivals, On the first of Elul is the New Year for animal tithes; Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say: on the first of Tishrei. On the first of Tishrei is the New Year for years, for Sabbatical Years and Jubilee Years, for planting, and for vegetables. On the first of Shevat is the New Year for the tree; in accordance with the statement of Beit Shammai. Beit Hillel say: on the fifteenth of. (Massechet Rosh HaShana, Perek 1, Mishna 1)

This week we celebrated Rosh Chodesh Nisan, which is the month when Passover is celebrated (on the 15th), commemorating the exodus from Egypt (Yitziyat Mitzrayim).

According to the first mishna in Masechet Rosh HaShana (quoted above), Rosh Chodesh Nisan is the New Year for kings and for festivals. In fact, Nisan is even referred to as the first month of the year, despite the fact that the holiday known as New Years, Rosh HaShana, took place 6 months earlier

As the New Year for the Festivals, the month of Nisan is designated as a starting point for the cycle of the 3 Jewish Festivals, the Shalosh Regalim, named Pesach (Passover), Shavuot, and Sukkot. These 3 holidays are not just linked together, but they are also tied to the agricultural calendar. The planting season begins in the spring, around the month of Nisan, corresponding to Pesach, and then during Tishrei, the cycle ends at Sukkot which signifies the end of the harvest.

These 3 holidays were pilgrimage holidays, with Jews from all over the land of Israel going up to Jerusalem to celebrate the holidays at the Beit HaMikdash.

Rosh Chodesh Nisan was also the date used for counting the years of the reign of an individual Jewish King. The first year of the King’s reign would begin in Nisan, the second year, the following Nisan, etc. While this designation may seem more administrative than anything else, it was embodied in Jewish law, halacha. A Jewish King could not arbitrarily count his years as King in any way he chose. Rather, he had to follow halacha. Similarly, any other decision a King made had to be in accordance with Halacha. A Jewish King was never the supreme leader. He was always subservient to God.

Chodesh Tov חודש טוב



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