The symbol of Nisan is the ram, Aries. This animal is the constellation of the month, as well as the focus of the holiday of Pesach that influences the entire month. The Paschal Lamb is not merely an offering of the holiday; it is the symbol of Egypt and the idolatry of the Egyptians. There are more commandments surrounding this offering than any other offering ever brought during the Temple period. This fact highlights the lamb’s importance. This essay will explore some of the significance of this animal.
Historians list many gods the Egyptians worshipped, yet there was a significant god that was in the form of a ram. The Bible indicates that this was the most significant god during the Hebrew enslavement. The month that the Egyptians would consider the most powerful for their god is Nisan. And the full moon would indicate its most powerful day. It was precisely on this day God instructed the Jews to leave Egypt, in order to show the impotence of idolatry. So much so that the calls for us to slaughter, roast, and eat the object of their idolatry. Imagine what the Egyptians must have thought when they were defeated on that day. Every year we show our conviction that there’s only one God in the world. He alone is in control of every molecule of existence. Not only the lamb, but also the entire Passover Seder is a description of God’s omnipotence.
This is not the only appearance of sheep in the holy writings. Sheep are a prominent feature in the Torah. The forefathers were shepherds. Rachel, who’s name is another word for sheep, was a shepardess. A famous passage relates how Jacob met Rachel while she was sheparding at a well. (See Genesis Chapter 29) Sheep were used for clothing, food, trade, and temple offerings. Abel was a Shepard. All of these references are positive, and indicate this is a more favorable sign of the zodiac.
In line with the sign being positive, this month is a powerful one. It is when the earth starts to blossom. The sages say it is the month when the universe came into being. And it is the first month of the calendar cycle.
The sheep is also a symbol of the Jewish people. (See Psalms 44:14, Isaiah 53:7) God is referred to as our Shepard, as in Psalm 23. We can be as docile as a sheep being led, or as powerful as a charging ram. Yet we are vulnerable to the “wolves” of the world, and depend on our Shepard for protection. God is our leader, protector, and savior. We are His flock.
This is the month in which we remind ourselves that God is our Shepard. With His guidance we can take the power of this month and break away from the chains of materiality. We can elevate ourselves to the freedom of doing what our soul yearns to do.