Rosh Hodesh Nissan; New Moon of Aries

Shalom Friends,

On April 5 the new moon was seen in the night sky to herald the coming of spring. This new moon ushers in the month of Nisan, The Month of Spring: liberation from the tight cold of winter – Rebirth! On the full moon of Nisan we usher in the festival of Passover!

This too, is the birth of the Holistic Jew blog. Jewish practice is largely based upon our ancestors meeting the cycles that impact Earth. This is Jewish in that we acknowledge that The Holy One of Blessing arranged Earth’s cycles of time. These patterns, then, offer skillful means to meet the Creator of these cycles.

I want to share the joy I experience meeting the phases of each day, lunar and solar cycles, and offer skillful means to help you find your own best practices to do so, through sharing of ideas and rituals. I will post a new teaching at least once a month. I hope that you will share your thoughts as they relate to these teachings.

The month of Nisan, the month of spring, is sometimes called the month of “speaking,” because Passover is in this month, and the Hebrew for Passover is PESACH.

‘The rabbis extract a teaching from the word Pesach, which literally means to “pass over”. But it happens that in Hebrew the verb “sah” means “to tell;” peh is “mouth.” Thus Pesach, Passover, can also mean a “mouth that tells!”‘[1]

“And what a story we tell!”

On the full moon of Nisan, for two thousand years, generation after generation of Jews all over the world gather around a table to share a Passover feast, sing and tell the story Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt. [2] We remember Pharaoh’s cruelty and persecution of our ancestors.

The Seder is a festival meal – with story telling, song, good food and fruit of the vine. It is one of the ancestral keys we have been gifted with. The Seder is a key to maintaining a Jewish identity outside the homeland. [3]

The telling of the story is so important that the compilation of songs and stories read at a Passover Seder, is called the Hagadah, which simply means “the telling!”

Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt

Can you hear the MTzR in MiTZRayim? In Hebrew, “Egypt” is not the name for the land in which Jews were enslaved – it is “Mitzrayim“. TZR means constriction, or being squeezed or tight.

Mi-TZR-ayim – The tight-narrow-place, The-Place-of-Constriction, density, the Place where no-thing can flow, constraint and binding, dis-ease. “Ayim” points to “doubling” the constraint. Some connect this with the physical geography of the country – a physical aspect of narrowness.

Our people’s liberation from The tight-narrow-place is one of the great tales of human history.

Pharaoh is the ruler of Mitzrayim – the constricted place. The people of Mitzrayim consider him as a god. The root, PRAyin not only points to the Ruler of Mitzrayim; the Narrow Place, it means – troublesome, unruly, bothersome, pogrom, interruption according to the Alcalay dictionary.

The Haggadah tells us that each year as we sit at the Seder table, one should consider it as if we all had personally exited from Mitzrayim, the place of narrowness and density.

Mitzrayim and Pharaoh are archetypes that tend to play out through the details of life. Heshbon HaNefesh; soul accounting invites us to look inward more deeply and assess these patterns as they come forward in the world; personally, communally and beyond.

We begin this process with a personal assessment:

What is blocking me from being my best self? A place? a situation?

What IS the Mitzrayim I wish to personally leave behind this year? A habit, dis-ease? trait ? Entanglement?

Who is playing the role of Pharaoh in our lives?

“When we do this, we may weave our own story into the narrative of the Jewish people moving from slavery to freedom.” [4]

1. Mitzrayim: Where is density, constriction?





2. Who is playing the role of Pharaoh in our lives?

A Person?

Is there an external condition causing obstacles?

Are we our own worst Pharaoh?

3. Is it useful to consider life’s challenges through this lens?

[1] Thanks to R Marcia Prager for her words on the 2011 Ohala list.
[2] ”
[3] In 1990, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi was invited to a meeting in Dharamsala, India between the Dalai Lama and Jewish leaders to discuss how Tibetan Buddhists might “survive in exile,” as Jews had done for two-thousand years. Rabbi Zalman pointed to the Passover seder and guided the Buddhists with the template of the Haggadah to help them tell their own story as This dialogue, and Schachter-Shalomi’s remarkable influence upon it, became the focus of a best-selling book by Rodger Kamenetz, called The Jew in the Lotus. P 39
[4] See 1

Tmimah Audrey ickovits

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