This past Shabbat we read Parashat HaHodesh where the upcoming month of Nisan is officially designated as the first month of the year. A New Year in the spring is quite novel, considering we already had one in the fall, in Tishrei. On Rosh HaShana we celebrated the creation of the world. A closer look at the verses might shed some light on the purpose of yet another beginning, and on why G-d allowed for the month of His creation to take a back seat to the month of our Exodus.
Following the new moon instruction are the laws of the Pascal Lamb where a major focus is on the Bayit, the home. P reparing and eating the lamb took place inside the home. People were instructed to stay put, enclosed in their homes. Basically on lock-down. The plague and death were on the outside, but whoever remained sealed off at home was safe from the widespread epidemic of the firstborn.
In light of the coronavirus, I can’t help but see a correlation. We too are being relegated to our homes prior to Passover. Perhaps, other than social distancing, there is an additional benefit to our confinement. It is a time to bond with our nearest and dearest. Isolation offers an opportunity to reestablish our core family values and morals. It seems like we have to contract, move inwards, before we can expand. The tighter the compression, the greater the expansion. The deeper we crouch the higher we can jump.
Maybe we were given a second New Year at this time so that after a period of hibernation, we could literally spring forward renewed and refreshed. Invigorated with a strong sense of heritage and deeply ingrained morals, we can more than survive; we can thrive in the public arena. Cultural challenges and foreign influences that clash with our principles or threaten to compromise our integrity will be more easily overcome. Negative virus-like forces, attempting to invade our inner sanctums and wreak havoc, can be combated with a strong resolve to adhere to the principles cultivated in our healthy homes.
In the month of Nisan, we pooled all our resources to craft the Mishkan, a home worthy of G-d’s Presence. It was also built from the inside out. The vessels were fashioned before the walls went up. Today, more than ever, Humanity is being challenged to restore G-d’s protective Clouds of Glory upon us. Maybe, just as The Holy of Holies was central to the Tabernacle, and merited G-d’s spirit, our families, the nucleus of our existence can be a conduit for the Shechina.
G-d gives primacy to the world we create through our children. G-d had said “Let there be light”; vibrant family units radiate light. They are the foundation for a fresh start and the building blocks for establishing a strong, vigorous nation. The next generation is essentially renewing, and expanding upon His original world. To bridge our exodus from Egypt with the unfolding story of our future redemption, our Jewish homes that were once aglow amidst the darkness, will again shine with our inner light, powered by anticipation of the miraculous. In Egypt when there was fear and terror outside, we filled the inside of our homes with trust and hope.
Each and every one of our families is a powerhouse, like turbocharged generators that engage with G-d’s Infinite Compassion to bring physical and spiritual healing to our world. This, says G-d, is cause for celebration, for yet a New Beginning.
May we all merit to see the blessings of Nisan unleashed speedily, Amen.