The month of Nissan was chosen as the first month of the lunar calendar year because that is when G-d instructed Moshe in the laws determining that Rosh Chodesh is at the first appearance of the moon.

Nissan holds a special place for G-d, since in this month He freed His nation from Egypt and split the sea for them, thus making it number one in terms of months of the year.

In fact, our Sages teach us that just as G-d freed us from the Egyptian slavery in the month of Nissan, so too, it will be in Nissan when He will free us from our current exile, with the arrival of Moshiach.

In our history, monumental events occurred in the month of Nissan. Of course, we know that the Holiday of Pesach is from the 15th of Nissan through the 22nd of Nissan.

In the second year after the Jews left Egypt, the Mishkan/Tabernacle was inaugurated on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. On each of the first 12 days of the month, the leader of one of the tribes offered a personal offering which imprinted on these days a special air of holiness.

Because the combination of the days of Pesach and the days of the Temple inauguration fill up the majority of the month, the Halacha dictates that the entire month of Nissan takes on an air of holiness so that we do not take on a personal fast, nor do we eulogize or recite penitential prayers during the entire month of Nissan.

In the Book of Yehoshua it tells us that in the fortieth year after the Jews left Egypt, on the Tenth day of the month of Nissan, under the leadership of Yehoshua, the Jordan River miraculously parted for the Jews and they finally entered the land of Israel.

The miracle of the parting of the Jordan River differed from the parting of the Red Sea. At the Red Sea, the waters parted and walls of water were formed on each side. There is an opinion, based on King David’s verse in Psalms, that the walls of water created twelve separate thoroughfares, one for each of the tribes!

At the Jordan River, the verses describe that the flowing waters stopped flowing downwards and began flowing upwards forming a gigantic pillar, which allowed the neighboring nations to witness the great miracle.

As we mentioned, the Jews entered Israel on the 10th day of Nissan. On that day the entire nation miraculously traveled to Gilgal and accepted the oath of Torah at Mount Grizim and Eival, as Moshe had instructed them in the Torah.

Another time sensitive matter that the Jews had to address was circumcising the males that were born during their travels in the desert. All males, other than those from the tribe of Levi, were not circumcised during their 40-year travels due to the fact that the clouds of glory that enveloped the Jew’s encampment in the desert prevented the healing northern wind from assisting in healing the wound. They were therefore exempt from making a Bris.

The Holiday of Pesach was approaching in a few days, along with the Mitzva of offering the Pascal lamb on the 14th day of Nissan. The Pascal sacrifice required that all males in one’s household must be circumcised, and therefore there was a massive circumcision done for all the males needing it.

On the day after Pesach, the 22nd of Nissan, G-d instructed Yehoshua to attack the well-fortified City of Jericho. This attack was not done with conventional warfare. Rather, the Jews were instructed to walk around Jericho accompanied by the holy ark. For each of the first six days they blew Shofars once. On the Seventh day, which was Shabbos – the Jews were instructed to walk around Jericho seven times while they sounded Shofars.

At the conclusion of final shofar blasts, the walls of Jericho miraculously came crashing down. The date of this occurrence was the 28th day of Nissan (yesterday).

To commemorate this miracle, Yehoshua forbade the Jews from building new walls around Jericho. As the city was captured, Yehoshua forbade anyone from taking any of its loot for personal benefit since it was captured on the Holy day of Shabbos. The city was then set on fire.

This past Tuesday, 27th Nissan, marked Yom Hazikaron – Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Scranton Jewish Community Center hosted its yearly memorial event. The featured speaker was a local resident David Fish, who is a son of survivors, Morris and Leah Fish o.b.m.

David spoke with much emotion about the backgrounds of both his parents and went into detail of the horror, pain and brutality they had to face during the war. I share with you just a bit of what he shared with us.

During the course of the war, Morris was shot eight times. After the war, when he returned to his town he married and assisted other Jews with getting their properties back and putting them back on their feet. During a pogrom, Morris’ first wife Rivka and his month old baby were shot and killed while he was away.

Leah had once fended off thugs that came to assault her grandfather, but a year later when she retuned home after a sleepover at a friend’s house, a woman told her to keep on walking as there was no one at home.

While in a daze, she walked for miles until she was arrested. She was thrown in a cellar for two days. Finally, the officer released her and told her, “your G-d was looking out for you”. Leah had tutored the officer’s son in school and was grateful to the 17 year old Leah. She then assumed a gentile name and worked at a home of non-Jews.

Eventually, Morris and Leah married, they emigrated to Israel, and fought in the War of Independence. In 1956 they moved to Scranton PA where Leah had two sisters.

One wonders how these survivors were able to pull their lives together. David related that when his father was a partisan during the war, he had a friend who would sing a disheartening song, “The sun shines for others but not for me.” His friend didn’t make it.

His father was an optimist, He would say, “The war cannot go on forever.” He survived and had a family.

David recalled that he was visiting his mother at the Jewish Home – the local nursing home ― at the end of her life, and students from the Scranton Hebrew Day School were performing for the residents. My mother looked at me and said, “This is why we had to survive – to see young children with yarmulkas singing beautiful songs! We survived to see another generation!”

This week’s portions speak about spiritually generated maladies that appeared on a person, clothing or house indicating that the person either spoke Lashon Hara – ill of others, was acting haughty, or was stingy.

The Mishna in Ethics of our Fathers teaches us, “When you judge another, don’t just isolate what he has done and then pass judgement. Rather, you are to take his entire life and circumstances into consideration, and only then you will be able to give him the benefit of the doubt.”