“Rabbi Eliezer says: The world was created in the month of Tishrey… Rabbi Yehoshua says: The world was created in the month of Nisan.” (Rosh haShanah 10B-11A)
Famously, Jews celebrate Rosh haShanah — the New Year — on the 1st of Tishrey, commemorating the anniversary of the completion of the Creation (that is, Day Six of Creation, the creation of mankind). Yet the Torah commands the Jewish nation to begin counting calendar months with Nisan (Exodus 12:2), and the Oral Tradition (Rosh haShanah 1:1) calls the month of Nisan “Rosh haShanah” (the New Year) as well.
So which is correct? Which month commemorates the Creation? Tishrey or Nisan?
In fact, both opinions express a deep truth, and do not actually conflict. The original act of Creation did indeed culminate in Tishrey, as Rabbi Eliezer opines. Therefore, we celebrate Rosh haShanah at that time, and count years from Creation from that date. However, until the events of the Exodus which culminated in Nisan, the nations of the world held the belief that the Universe had stood from eternity with no initial Creation. As such, the existence of the world did not point to the existence of a Creator. No recognition of G-d as Creator (and therefore Master of the Universe) held sway among the nations.
The events of the Exodus, including the signs and wonders that appeared to tear asunder the very fabric of Creation, the very laws of the physical universe, demonstrated that all these forces had no permanence of their own, but existed purely at the will of G-d. Indeed, the world witnessed G-d “recreate” the world during the Exodus, bringing the laws of nature in and out of existence according to His will. As such, a new stage of worldwide recognition and acknowledgment of G-d as Creator took place at that time. All mankind recognized at that time that the world had a Creator. In that way, the Exodus can be viewed as a culmination of Creation as well.
This year, as we commemorate the Exodus with the festival of Passover, may we bring the knowledge of G-d to the world, and merit to see the restoration of G-d’s kingdom on earth, speedily in our days.
Based on Shla”h, Maseches Pesachim
(Image from Wallpaper Abyss)