By Rabbi Dan Lewin
Pesach is known as “the Spring Festival,” and the Jewish calendar is adjusted so that the 15th of Nissan occurs during that season. On the surface, we commemorate the Exodus, the time of our people’s birth and freedom, during the same period in which it occurred. As the Torah announces: “You are going forth from Egypt, this day, in the month of the spring (Exodus 13:4).”
On a deeper level, the timing of great events is never incidental. Every physical concept — in this case leaving Egypt in springtime — has a broader parallel and life lesson. So, as we move into the last days of this spring festival, we can reflect on one of its core messages:
Inner seasonal shifts
Certain forces of nature are hidden during the winter, but as the weather changes, colorful blossoms emerge, which later turn into ripe fruits. As it relates to the human element, being in a state of “winter” means feeling the apparent unproductivity in a person’s life. But accepting this mood is one of the worst tricks of the dark inner forces. For nobody should ever feel, or be considered by others, as if they have terminated their usefulness to the world — even while experiencing a long period of fruitlessness.
Given the proper inspiration and stimulus, this state of winter can suddenly change into spring, as new energy, hidden resources begin to blossom, resulting in the ripening of good fruits (actions) for both G-d and man.
Springtime in Jewish life
Celebrating and reliving Pesach brings change. At one point in our ancestor’s history, the most bitter spiritual and physical slavery of 210 years made it seem as though there was no possibility for revival of Jewish life. Yet the spectacular deliverance came, in the middle of Nissan, the month of the spring, setting the children of Israel free — so free that in just a short time they were ready to receive the Torah, the zenith, and completeness of the entire universe.
During the counting of the Omer, beginning the second night of Pesach, we relive this spiritual journey — one day at a time — and embrace the possibility for extreme personal transformation.
Takeaway: a mystical Exodus experience
Amid personal “winter” struggles, we know that we must somehow find a way to keep grinding and dig deeper to meet the demands. The scene may appear bleak. It’s been a while since we’ve seen fruits. We feel tired, or beaten up by the coldness, at times even numb to the joys of life.
But beginning in “spring,” at the onset of this festival, while retelling the story at the seder, we receive a massive “boost from above” — beyond what we can achieve simply through steady toil —which activates a stronger level of soul energy. That inner seasonal change naturally flows into our minds and hearts, allowing for new possibilities and perspectives as we reconnect to our heritage.
Wishing you and yours kosher and
joyous final days of Pesach!
Rabbi Dan Lewin is director of the nonprofit Maayan Chai Foundation. For information, visit www.maayanchai.org.