Rosh Hashana:
Secrets of Redemption


In what month was the world created? Why does the Jewish New Year start in the seventh month? Why does the Torah say that Nissan will be the first of months? What does becoming a nation have to do with the renewal of the moon? How do all these concepts relate to the final redemption?

There is a teaching that when there is a machloket [disagreement] in the Gemara, it is a hint that there is a much deeper concept hidden there. A good example is in Rosh Hashana 11a, where there is a debate about what month creation took place. Rabbi Eliezer says that the world was created in Tishrei (on Rosh Hashana). Rabbi Yehoshua says it was created in Nissan. Each brings proofs from the Torah, which support their view. The debate goes back and forth. Tosafot [a commentary] concludes that both views are correct! Man was "created" in concept on Rosh Hashana, and the physical creation occurred in Nissan. This latter view is supported by a blessing that we say to Hashem for the sun (every 28 years when the sun's relative position in the sky is where it was at the time of creation): "Birchat Hachama" is said just before Pesach. As a side note, we probably don't mention the creation of Man at the Passover Seder, a time of mercy, due to the embarrassment of eating the forbidden fruit. However, Tishrei, represented by the astrological sign of "scales", is probably a better time to contemplate where humanity went wrong. Rosh Hashana marks the time when man was given the potential to be created in a way to choose between good and bad.

What is even stranger is the way the Gemara presents the disagreement. Rabbi Yehoshua argues that Avraham and Yaakov also were born and died in Nissan. He adds to his rebuttal something that they actually agree on; that on Rosh Hashana, Sarah and Rachel were "remembered", Yosef was released from prison in Egypt, that the Egyptian servitude ended on this date. He also repeats back to his intellectual opponent an obvious and seemingly superfluous statement that our ancestors were redeemed in Nissan. Continuing the debate, he stated a fourth disagreement- that the final redemption will occur in Nissan. These Rabbis were very concise and didn't throw around empty words, especially when bringing them as proof. There is no need to repeat something that you agree on, and stating something so obvious doesn't prove your point. The author of the Talmud could have easily left out these unnecessary words. The fact that they are included is proof that they are meaningful. The statements must be needed to support a common theme. So what were they really arguing about?

Perhaps the rabbis were not just debating on whether these events literally took place during those times, but rather, theorizing on a lesson that we can derive from it. For instance, why mention Sarah? It was decreed on Rosh Hashana that Sarah would have a child, and then her menses returned on Pesach (she was making matzah). She later conceived on Rosh Hashana and being that it was a leap year (which added an additional month), she had a 7-month pregnancy in which Yitzchok was born on Pesach (fulfilling the prophecy). There seems to be a pattern: There's a plan, then the action.

Stating the well-known date of the Exodus appears to infer a remez [allusion] to the final redemption. Although the Egyptian servitude stopped on Rosh Hashana, we celebrate coming out in Nissan. A month infers renewal, as does Pesach. The Jewish nation is like the moon, though our greatness has waned, our brightness will be renewed like the full moon. Thus, we remember our redemption as a "first of months". According to Sanhedrin 111a, the final redemption will be very similar to that first exodus. If everything goes like the natural order of things, then history will repeat itself. Just as the servitude stopped, and later that year came the Exodus, so too with our redemption- the decree would go out before we are returned to Eretz Yisrael.

Now we can see a deeper facet to debating when the Avot [Forefathers] were born and died. Did they come and go under the rachamim [mercy] of Nissan, or din [judgement] of Tishrei? Likewise, how will the redemption of their descendants come? Abraham was given a decree, and later his progeny were sent into Egypt. There they were surrounded by less-than-wholesome morals, to see if they would succumb to that negative influence. Likewise, it was prophesized that we would be sent into this current exile. Right now in a corrupted environment, we are being tested to see if we will blossom into moral upright citizens. The Reform Jew and the Orthodox Jew must stand side by side without either one snickering or bickering at the other. We are brothers and sisters that must teach the nations that violence and greed is not a means to an end. Will we merit early redemption in a time of mercy, or incur a verdict to force it upon us due to our negligence in fixing the world? An early redemption is well within our reach if we pull together as a family under the morals of our forefathers.

On Rosh Hashana, everything is determined for the whole year. If Rabbi Yehoshua was right (that the redemption will be determined on Rosh Hashana), then we have the ability to change the blueprints of history right now. This could be the year that Hashem decides to decree our Redemption! May we merit it speedily!

Ketivah Vachatimah Tovah [May you be written and sealed for good],

The Jewlight Staff.

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