The Jewish calendar is a wondrous entity that doesn’t stop fascinating the explorer interested in unraveling its secrets and mysterious layout.
So important is the calendar that Rashi, in his very first comment on Chumash, asks why the Torah doesn’t start with the laws of Rosh Chodesh, around which the calendar is based.
Interestingly, the Jewish calendar has two beginnings: Tishrei and Nissan. The new year (5780, for example) begins in Tishrei, but Nissan is also called the “head” of months. Indeed, the two months are parallel in that they both revolve around a cleaning process meant to carry us to higher spheres. One is more physical than the other – Pesach cleaning is more “hands on” than taking stock of one’s soul – but the goal of both is the same.
How often have I – after inspecting a kitchen cabinet countless times, convinced it has been meticulously cleaned – discovered some hidden food in it? It is as such moments that I realize the striking similarity between Nissan and Tishrei. They carry the same message! Pesach prepares us for the teshuvah process of Tishrei. It teaches us that to reach perfection, we must be vigilant.
So many times we think we have eliminated a particular bad habit only to see it resurface. Nissan teaches us that if you truly wish to rid yourself of undesirable items, you must invest effort. During bedikas chametz, we search every crack and crevice, cleaning and removing every last crumb. We must do the same in Tishrei, examining our character for spiritual chametz.
The whole year is one intertwined chain reminding us to focus on introspection, to recall the words of Pirkei Avos: “Me’ayin basa, ule’an ata holech, velifnei mi ata asid liten din vecheshbon.”
If one ponders the above and realizes how the calendar molds our lives, turning them into a homogeneous whole, it becomes a refreshing and most exciting experience to prepare for the chagim.