Nathan you told us how special your Bar Mitzvah Shabbat is, but let me add two more significances to today, even though they don’t get their own Torah:
First: The supermoon total solar eclipse last night: the moon turned new only 14 hours after reaching lunar perigee – moon’s closest point to Earth in its orbit. This moon is called a supermoon and this new supermoon swung right in front of the sun last night. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is larger than the Sun's, blocking all direct sunlight, turning the day into darkness.Yesterday was the last total solar eclipse visible in Europe until the eclipse of August 12, 2026.
And...second, the equinox, which is today. The time when our 24 hours are divided equally between day and night: 12/12. A time of complete balance. Starting tomorrow we will have more light than dark, having come out of more dark than light.
The special reading for Shabbat Hachodesh starts with “this month shall be for you the first of all months.” Nisan is the equilibrium between the darkness of the winter and the light of the summer.
Nisan is the first month of the Jewish year. Not Tishre which is the first month of the counting of the year, but Nisan which is the first month of counting that we are a people. It is the month in which we start to identify ourselves as Jews. It is deeply significant that that first mitzvah given to the Jewish people—to sanctify the New Moon—was in effect, the commandment to take control of our time. Slaves cannot plan their day. Slaves cannot decide how to make a month more meaningful. Only free people can wake up in the morning and say, “how will today be better than yesterday” and actually do something out of it.
Our lives are lived somewhere between supermoon big historical occurances, 3-Torah Shabbats, Bar Mitzvahs which do eclipse everything else for that small moment in time; and the commandment to sanctify the everyday, to mark the months and the moments; to sanctify the normal daily routine time. A month is just a month until we mark it; as free agents, as masters of our destiny.
Rosh Chodesh Nisan, on the one hand, reminds us that we have 15 days until the Seder. 15 days—Metro was already changing its shelves at Purim so how am I supposed to find that equilibrium? On the other hand, Nisan itself reminds us that there are supermoons we need to stop and pay attention to: the ideals of freedom, of family, of experiencing the oppression of Egypt—and therefore all oppression— as if we ourselves were slaves. In this we have to find the balance between a crazy-making stress around food and focusing on the deeper themes of the holiday on the other.
In taking control of our time, in planning our days as free people, marked and measured as filled with meaning, we can count this month as the beginning of our liberation.