WELCOMING THE SPRING
After a cold winter, we all look forward to it; Daylight hours get longer, blossoms cover the trees and the world seems more alive. But it isn’t just Nature that comes to life. The festival of Pesach (the birth of the Jewish Nation) always falls in Spring because the Jewish people were redeemed then. In fact the Torah emphasises this by calling Pesach: Chag Ha’Aviv – the spring festival.
However, since the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle (the moon rather than the sun) it is actually quite difficult to ensure that Pesach always occurs in Spring. The Torah directs us to adjust our calendar by creating a series of leap years, adding an extra month to 7 years of the 19 year cycle. But why is it so important? What is the message of Spring?
Quite simply, freedom and spring go together. Spring is neither too hot nor too cold – it’s a time of balance.
The Vilna Gaon (1720-1797) tells us that the purpose of creation is to perfect our personality and character. But in order to achieve this perfection, we need to be balanced. Maimonides famously refers to this as the Middle Path. If we are too disciplined we never love but if we are too giving we spoil the child. Perfection of character is the synthesis of two extremes and true freedom is striking this balance. The type of behaviour that we strive for, is that of Spring - neither too hot nor too cold.
And as we celebrate the birth of our Nation, the Torah wants us to realise that the message of Spring underpins the very essence of our nationhood and our freedom.