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Ta Shema: February 24, 2023

It's Spring Y'all

A couple of weeks ago it was a chilly, overcast, rainy, 70 degree day. I only had eyes for the weather being a high of 70. I declared it spring!

Emily, Shlomi, and I were getting ready to go to Pender Pines Garden Center, so I got dressed in hopeful springtime clothes. Emily and Shlomi were in more reasonable and weather appropriate long pants and jackets, but I was in shorts and a t-shirt. When Emily asked me what was wrong with me, my only answer was, “I declare that it’s spring!”

At Pender Pines I purchased spring-y front porch decorations–a sign with sunflowers and a sea turtle wind mobile. As the weather continues to waffle back and forth between lovely and too cold, I feel I am doing my part to help spring along.

This time of the year, the Jewish calendar tip-toes towards spring. Around Tu Bishvat in Israel, as well as in our climate, we start to see the first buds of spring, even if the ground still frosts from time to time. It is the strength we need to keep moving forward towards the new life that is just around the corner. 

Now, we are gearing up for Purim. This holiday is the spiritual equivalent of putting on shorts a little too early and surrounding yourself with decorations that are more aspirations. As we dress in costume, we do not hide ourselves, but rather we realize our full selves. As we dress up, we actually take off our invisible masks that we wear every day when we hold ourselves back. This is the final refuel of strength we need for the main event.

Passover.

But one thing at a time! We aren’t quite there yet.

Today we declare it spring. In one month, it will be spring. And both of these are important to the process.

When we declare it spring, we actively open ourselves to be able to receive spring when it comes. We engage in a relationship with all that spring has in store for us. Yes, spring comes with the “great pollening” but it is worth it for the freedom to be outside, on the beach, and making our friends with snow still in their backyards jealous.

Judaism is a relational religion. It can not exist in a vacuum, and does not feel the same in isolation. The Jewish calendar keeps moving forward, and we can’t control that. But we can control how we interact with it. Passover is exactly one month after Purim, which is one month after Tu Bishvat. They are the big, medium, and large steps laid in front of us to take towards freedom each year. Yes, you can mark the passing of time with these holidays by yourself, but I encourage all of you to take these steps together with your community.

Use Purim this year as your practice round for Passover. Use your costume to feel more free and partake in the many activities and fundraisers surrounding Purim to connect with yourself and others. 

Let’s declare it’s spring together! Because before you know it, ready or not, Passover will be here. I, for one, am already excited.

 

B’Shalom and Hag Purim Sameach (Happy Purim),

Rabbi Chaya Bender

Sun, March 3 2024 23 Adar I 5784