This week during my walks, I noticed so many signs of spring in such beautiful vibrant ways, much more dazzling than even a few days earlier. (Most probably due to all the rain we’ve had). I see lush carpets of brightly colored flowers, covering the ground.; majestic Strelitzia (Birds of Paradise) gracing a home’s fence with their grace and beauty; the deeply fragrant blossoms of the orange, lemon and lime trees showing off their flowers with bees buzzing all around; gardens and yards bursting with color, providing a gorgeous and radiant “show” for all to enjoy.
The heat in my house might still be on, but nature – and God – is sending a strong message that spring is here. The grass is greener, the sky is bluer, the sunlight has a different quality to it. Even the rain this morning smelled different…it smelled like spring.
We are now in the intermediate days of Pesach, Passover. These days are called “chol ha-moed Pesach.” (The greeting for this time is: ‘mo’adim l’simcha’ – may you have a season of joy!’) Pesach is not only known as our “Festival of Freedom,” it is also called “Chag Ha-Aviv – Festival of Spring.” We remind ourselves of this time of rebirth and renewal when we eat the karpas, the green vegetable and the boiled egg (or the boiled new potato, as was my grandmother’s custom) during our seder.
It is customary to read from Song of Songs, Shir HaShirim during this time of the world’s reawakening on this Shabbat which takes place during Pesach. “Its poetry evokes the themes of hope, promise, and potential — in nature and in our lives.” (Mishkan HaSeder: A Passover Haggadah, pg. 34. CCAR Press. Ed, Rabbi Hara Person). If nature can renew itself and start fresh year after year, so too, do we have that potential to begin anew year after year.
Sometimes, those beginnings may seem difficult. Think of the lotus flower that begins life below the surface of the water in the mud and the “muck” of the pond or lake floor. Yet, with the right conditions, patience, and perseverance the lotus rises to the surface and unfurls its petals to become a most beautiful flower, floating gracefully on the water. From the mud arises nature’s breathtaking floral sculpture. The lotus is surely a symbol of hope, promise and great potential.
This Pesach, we know that some of us might feel “mired in the muck” from personal events or from what is taking place in the world around us. Our Chag Ha-Aviv reminds us that we have the potential to rise above the “muck” and bring renewal, promise, hope and new life to our world.
Wishing you and your loved ones a mo’adim l’simcha – a healthy and happy Passover!
Rabbi Sharon L. Sobel
Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Sholom