Rosh Chodesh Nisan began Saturday, March 17. Even if you’re not Irish, you may have been busy that day, donning green beads, drinking green concoctions and maybe even eating green bagels.
I get it. St. Patrick’s Day is on the Gregorian calendar, in every advertisement and in many store displays. Celebrating makes you a part of something.
The Hebrew calendar does that too, and we as a people have much to be a part of and to celebrate. So let’s honor the arrival of the new moon with joy equal to or greater than that derived from shamrocks and leprechauns.
Before Nisan got its name, it was known as the first of months. It contains Passover, which falls on a full moon in spring, on the 15th day of Nisan. That is March 31 this year.
Nisan was the month in which, two weeks before the Exodus, Hashem showed Moses the sliver of the crescent moon and instructed him about the mitzvah of observing a new month. From that time on, we’ve followed the commandment to sanctify the new moon.
Regardless of the world’s chaos, the constant moon, our ancient timepiece, rhythmically appears and disappears in the night sky. We can align ourselves with the energies of the waxing and waning moon.
The waxing phase occurs after the new moon and before the full moon. In this phase there’s greater illumination until the moon reaches its full brightness. The new moons are most conducive to creating and beginning projects and being seen.
The moon is waning after the full moon and before the new moon. During this phase, the light reflected on the moon diminishes until it’s hidden from sight. This time is more in sync with retreating, going inward, storing energy and completing projects that have begun.
Think of the phases as huge, light-filled breaths contrasted against our breaths, contracting and settling into quiet darkness.
This flow in the expression of energies can allow for a cycle of creation and rest before creating again. Our society doesn’t operate that way, and burnout is often the result. Imagine if you mindfully designed your time and energy to flow in this way.
While we’re talking about the moon, when I was growing up, I spent most of my childhood outside. Never do I remember the phenomenon of the supermoon. I think it might be a fake moon thing.
However, it certainly gets our attention. It’s as if someone has moved the projector very close to us, and the glowing orb in the sky can’t be ignored. It makes it easier, though, to be aware of the moon cycles.
We also just altered our hours of daylight and darkness when we switched to daylight saving time. Let’s harness the power of this increased light in Nisan for new growth and beginnings.
Astrologically, we should also note that Mars, the red or warring planet, rules at this time, so from the new moon until the full moon of Passover, our wars and conflicts are said to be determined for the year ahead. That makes it an important time for us to get our tempers in check and practice patience and tolerance for those whose opinions differ from ours.
There is much to do this month. When you’re using the feather by candlelight to sweep out your chametz from the pantry, consider this: What if that rogue Cheerio that slipped out from the box and rolled underneath the sack of potatoes was a negative habit to be swept away? What if the crumbs represent lashon hara (derogatory speech about another), or each slice of bread stands for moments when you were inauthentic?
Meditation focus: Sit in a darkened room with candlelight as the only source of light. Search your soul for those crumbs of shame or misconduct that you’ve pushed aside. Imagine Hashem shining the searchlight on them.
Breathe and release as you own your negative actions. Redirect, on this halfway point to Yom Kippur, and realign with your neshama, your pure soul.