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Tishrei vs. Nisan - The Great Creation Debate

03/15/2021 12:44:53 PM


Rabbi Rudin

D’var Torah for Rosh Chodesh


When was the world brought into being?  When did G-d say, “let there be light?”  When was humanity created in the image of the Divine?  

The two great second century Rabbis, Eliezer and Joshua, see things differently.

Rabbi Eliezer holds that it is Tishrei, the seventh month.  After all, the great and mysterious festival of the Day of Remembrance and Judgment takes place on the first of Tishrei.  Creation is judged on the anniversary of the day that they were created.  Like a warranty on a car, inspection of all of the parts takes place corresponding to their manufacture.  

Rabbi Joshua is equally convincing and convinced: G-d tells Moses and Aaron that the month of Nisan is the first month.  The world’s springtime in Nisan is an echo of the original creation.  The Jewish people’s formation, our moment of creation as a free people happens in Nisan.  

So who is right?  And what does this argument even mean?

In the famous words of Shalom Aleichem’s Tevye: “You are right and you are also right.”   Or, as the Mishna puts it: These and these are both the words of the Living G-d.

On Rosh HaShana we are filled with awe as the universe is called into being out of chaos.  Entropy, in complete contradiction to the second law of thermodynamics, is reversed.  Creation glistens with reality and primal purity.  The universe is a place of wonder and holiness and we are careful to polish away the stains and damage we have caused through Teshuva (repentance).   And so we engage in Teshuva, Tefila (prayer) and Tzedaka (charity).  

But on Passover we are filled with joy.  We gather at our Seder tables and glorious chaos ensues with laughter, good food, good times.  We are free!  Like the flowers and shrubs and plants that suddenly spring up in this season, life simply teems into rebirth. 

In Tishrei, at Rosh HaShana,  we remember and live the truth that life is to be reverenced. 

In Nisan, at Pesach, we remember and live that life is to be celebrated. 

These and these are the words of the Living G-d.  Happy Nisan!

Thu, June 20 2024 14 Sivan 5784