According to Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag, the name of the month that we are announcing this Shabbat Hachodesh has a significant meaning. The suffix “an” in Aramaic means “our”. So “Nisan” means “our nes”; that is, “our miracle.”
To understand the nature of “our miracle,” let’s first recall several things that our sages have taught us about miracles in general:
1. Miracles are events not determined by natural causes (Megillah 10b);
2. Everything is a miracle (Ramban, parashat Bo);
3. We don’t rely on miracles (Talmud Yerushalmi on Devarim 6:16);
4. It is best not to use things that are created by miracles (Taanit 25a);
5. Every miracle has a purpose (Ramban, Torat Hashem Temima, p. 150).
The correctness of the above five statements about miracles can easily be confirmed if we keep in mind one key thought that was frequently stressed by Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag (the great Kabbalist and father of Rabbi Baruch Shalom): Everything in this world is an emanation from higher worlds. And, of course, everything is ultimately from God.
“This world” refers to the bottom rung on the ladder of levels of reality. “Natural causes” comprise our evolving understanding of the relationship between events within this world. But not only does this understanding never provide a complete explanation, it also never includes a recognition of emanation or even the existence of higher worlds. For example, it was recently discovered that hundreds of galaxies are rotating in a manner that is synchronized with the motions of galaxies that are tens of millions of light years away from them. There is no known explanation for this. So the scientists will look for undiscovered forces etc., but they will never consider that the galaxies have a united spiritual connection to higher worlds. That would be a supernatural explanation, not a natural one. We call an event a “miracle” when we recognize that it is not determined by natural causes.
Since everything we perceive in this world emanates from above, then everything is not determined by natural causes. So everything is a miracle. We are advised not to rely on miracles and not to use miracles, because we are not to use our connection to God for our own benefit, but only as a means for recognizing God’s greatness. And of course the emanation from above is always for the purpose of bringing the creation to its intended perfection.
When an individual perceives a personal event as miraculous, it often guides that person to find his or her “calling.” For Moshe, it was the burning bush. For others, it is often a miraculous healing that shows them the value and meaning of their lives. In general, God’s “choosing” an individual is expressed in the way His emanation from above guides that individual to complete his or her mission in life.
Just as each person has a calling, so each nation has a calling. As Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag explains in the book “Giving: The Essential Teaching of the Kabbalah”, God chose Am Yisrael to create a society of mutual love and devotion to God. That is our calling. We can recognize God’s choosing Am Yisrael through His taking us out of Egypt on the 15th of Nisan, splitting the Reed Sea on the 21st of Nisan and dwelling within the Mishkan we dedicated on the 1st day of Nisan in the following year. All these historical events that took place in Nisan were emanations from above that guided our nation toward its destiny. Their inner meaning continues to guide us today.
The significance of Nisan can also explain why sanctifying the new month was the first mitzvah given to Am Yisrael. It constitutes the birth and monthly renewal of our orientation toward the fulfillment of our calling. Nisan was the first month to be sanctified, and is forever honored as the first month of the year. The chosenness of Am Yisrael was revealed in the month of Nisan. This is “our miracle” that we celebrate on this special Shabbat.