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SEASON Spring WIND The east HALF OF THE YEAR The sun ELEMENT Earth within air GATE The earth and sea ANGEL Uriel (revelation) DIVINE FACE Tiferet (compassion and balance) The Bud 1 nisan to 14 Iyar The buds appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the dove is heard in our land. —SONG OF SONGS 2:12 222 he fifth motion of the year is emerging. In some regions of the world, leaves lean out of branches, buds unfurl from their casings, and red seeps into the landscape. The word “Nisan” itself means “bud.” In the Middle East and similar climates, spring is already in full bloom, and the first harvest is about to come in. Spring is the moment when the hard-earned strength of the winter pours itself into foliage and flower. The Shekhinah has opened a door somewhere and flung it open. The days of sun have begun. It is at this light-filled time of year that Jews celebrate the festival of Passover and relive the going out from Egypt. From the bitter taste of slavery to the wonder of the parting sea, we enter the experience of sudden freedom. Houses undergo a thorough cleaning, and for a week we change our diet as if to remind us that liberty requires the willingness to change. It is we ourselves who must rush out of Egypt on the full moon of the month of Nisan, we who must pass the story to our children. Liberation happens to us not once, but each year at this season. Outside, this is the season of air, when fresh winds blow through the world. Yet inwardly, we are in the season of earth, the season when we are most grounded. At Passover, Jews relearn who we are, what our task in the world is. We remember we are part of a people. Looking around us in the spring, we remember we are part of the tribe of life. This is a different kind of rebirth than the one at Rosh Hashanah; this is a birth that draws us out of ourselves. The Omer, the 49-day period beginning on the second night of Passover, celebrates the journey of the sprouting grain (Leviticus 23:15–17). Our ancestors reaped a sheaf on the first day of the Omer and baked bread on the last day, the transformation of life into life. In Jewish mystical tradition, each day of the Omer connects us to a mystical 223 T 224 attribute of the Divine. As Nisan and Iyar unfold, we travel through all 49 of these attributes, collecting a spiritual harvest that will ground and nourish us. Other cultures around the world recall rebirth, freedom, and sustenance at this season. In spring, the Babylonians celebrated the triumph of the god Marduk over the sea goddess of chaos, Tiamat.1 In summer, in the ancient Middle East, this was the time of the sacred wedding of Inanna.2 Persephone, the Greek goddess of the underworld, returned to the earth at this time of year to rejoin with her mother, Demeter, the earth.3 Europeans once celebrated Eostre at the spring equinox, honoring the goddess of spring. The name of that festival gave rise to the English word “Easter,” the Christian celebration of the resurrection of divinity, which also falls at this time of year.4 Nowruz, the Iranian holiday of the spring equinox, includes housecleaning (similar to Passover housecleaning), seed sprouting, and the welcoming of the spirits of ancestors. The Igbo people of Nigeria celebrate their new year in the springtime, hiding their children in their houses to make certain that the old year does not sweep them away as it departs. In Nisan, the warming earth embraces the rain and sun. We receive the first commandment of the Torah: to consider this season the rebirth of time itself. Spring unfolds. We honor the Divine Presence as She buds into Her full glory. 1 nisan to 14 iyar This new moon is one of the four new years of the Jewish calendar, the new year of months. A minority opinion in the Babylonian Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 11a) claims the world was created on the 1st of Nisan. The 1st of Nisan celebrates the moon, the seasons, and time itself. On this day, the Shekhinah descends into the Tabernacle, the mishkan, for the first time. The Israelites have built a traveling shrine for God. Now, as the air grows...

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