Awakening From Above

The Month of Nisan and Passover.

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Reprinted with permission from Iyyun, an institute for the exploration of the deeper dimensions of Torah.

The Sefer Yetzirah, among other texts, reveals a constellation of unique energies, themes and spiritual practices for each month of the year. We will build on these teachings in order to discover some of the deeper meanings of the month of Nisan, and its special days, in particular the holiday of Passover. This will allow us to unleash the redemptive powers of these most auspicious times.

Letter-Combination of the Month

There are four letters in the name of Hashem (Yud, Hei, Vav, and Hei). Each month of the year has an inner light that is refracted as a different sequence of these four letters. The Month of Nisan shines as the original sequence, Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei.
matzah and egg
The letters Yud and Vav are called mashpi'im, or 'givers', and the letter Hei is called a m'kabeil, or 'receiver'. This month's sequence thus represents the proper flow of energy: if it were written vertically, the Yud would be on top giving to the Hei below it, and the Vav would be giving to the Hei at the bottom.

This sequence of letters is found in the beginnings of four words in Tehillim, 90:11--Yismehu Hashamayim V'tageil Ha'aretz, "the Heavens will be happy and the earth will rejoice." The nouns in this verse also allude to a flow from a giver above to a receiver below, shamayim (Heavens), giving to aretz (earth).

The verbs in this verse also describe an energetic flow. First comes yismehu (from the word simcha, 'happiness' ) and then comes v'tageil (from the word gila, 'rejoicing'). Simcha has the same letters as mah'shava, 'thought', suggesting that yismechu refers to an inner joy, hidden within the mind. Gila is related to the word gilu, 'to reveal', suggesting that v'tageil refers to a form of joy that is expressed outwardly, in the world.

Our letter-sequence therefore suggests a flow from giver to receiver, from above to below, from Heaven to earth, from inside to outside, and from hidden to revealed. Nisan is called the Month of Miracles. On Passover, Hashem displays transcendental miracles and descends, so to speak, to take us out of our lowliness and slavery. This is called an 'awakening from above', for it is an unearned gift of kindness flowing down to us from Heaven. During the Seder, the joy of freedom that has been suppressed and hidden deep within us is released. As we sing Hallel, we reveal our joy and gratitude openly. In Nisan, we meditate on Hashem as the giver, and ourselves as the receivers.

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Rabbi DovBer Pinson

Rabbi DovBer Pinson is the Rosh Yeshiva of the IYYUN Yeshiva, a Yeshiva for adults. He is also the founder of the IYYUN Center, a center for Jewish enrichment in Brooklyn, New York, and and is the author of more than ten books on Kabbalah and spirituality.