Passover, and the Significance of the Time

    April 2000 Passover Edition            
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Opinion & Society


The Special Time of Passover

By Larry Lazer

The time of Passover is in the spring. It must be that way. The Jewish calendar is based on the moon, therefore the twelve-month cycle should have 354 days. This means that Passover should be moving around the year like the Muslim holidays. The Torah, however, specifically specifies that the holiday of Passover should take place in the spring.

The insistence of the Torah that the holiday of Passover must be at springtime, is the factor which causes the Jewish calendar to have an extra month every couple of years. Instead of a leap year having an extra day, the Jewish calendar has an extra month. This is only to assure that the holiday of Passover in always in the spring.

What is the reason that the Passover holiday must be celebrated in the spring? What is the importance of spring that the Torah, meaning G-d Himself, insists that it be celebrated only at this time of year?

To understand this, let us first understand the yearly cycle of the seasons.

Summer is the time of intense growth; the apples and pears reach full size. The corn and wheat grow to their mature size. The harvest begins.

Fall is the end of the growth cycle. All the produce is harvested and brought into the storehouses.

Winter is the time that the trees are barren. Nothing is seen growing. The fields lie fallow. The stark winter together with the short days and long dark nights leads one into a feeling of detachment from the growing cycle.

Spring is the time of the budding, the time of the beginning of the new growth of the produce. The trees begin to blossom; the small green sprouts begin to surface from the ground.

From the midst of the dark, barren winter, when all life seems suspended and no signs of growth are seen, a seed which was planted in the fall and has rotted in the ground begins to sprout. After being lifeless and inert, the seed gives up its being and seemingly decays. It loses its identity as a seed. It gives up its essence and seemingly rots, dying under the cover of the ground.

One who has no knowledge of the yearly cycle would think that the seed has rotted and is lost. The man who placed the seed in the ground has faith that the seed will sprout. A person who does not know anything about growth will think that the seed is lost; it has decayed and is forever lost. But even though this is true, the seed has decayed and rotted, the farmer knows that with the change of the season, the ground will put its power into the seed and cause it to grow. The farmer knows that the seed is not lost, but will give forth a tremendous increase. More produce will be brought forth from this seed.

This is especially true of the Jewish People. Buried under the cover of slavery for several hundred years in the oppressive work state of Egypt, a people of no noticeable attributes. Slave mentality. Yet under all the current of forced labor and intolerable working conditions, a simple yet deep belief in the Omnipresent G-d existed within them.

This religious belief, submerged and unapparant due to the severe working and living condition, was in a latent state. However, as the warm winds of that spring of our liberation began to warm the soil of our bondage, the seed of belief sprouted and a nation of G-d's most trusted servants was born.

The belief in gods or even in The G-d existed even in ancient Egypt among the Egyptians and other nations that coexisted with them. But there was a difference in their belief that only resulted in their eventual death at the Red Sea and our belief that cumulated in the receiving of the Ten Commandment together with the greatest revelation of G-dliness that ever a nation in all the worlds history has witnessed.

This can be seen when Moses began to perform his miracles to the eyes of Pharaoh and his magicians. "It is the finger of G-d" the magicians exclaimed. Yet we find Pharaoh complaining, "Who is YHVH that I should know him?"

The magicians used the name of G-d that is ELOKIM, the name that is used as the master of the world. The sages tell us that the name, ELOKIM, is synonimous with NATURE. Yet the name that we use, YHVH, is the name which means, was, is and will be, all at the same time. This is the Holy name that may not be pronounced.

What is the difference? What does it mean?

The difference is that there are two types of belief.

The first type of belief is that of the scientist or thinker. He has come to the opinion that G-d exists since there must be an original creator. Something or someone had to create the beginning. When the laws of nature are examined deep enough, he reaches a point that can not be explained and he says that is so because it is a law of nature; G-d, ELOKIM, has made it that way.

Yet there is another type of belief. This is the belief that everything stems from G-d. G-d existed before the world existed, and He will exist after the world ceases to exist. He exists now, undaunted and affected by the world, and all at the same time!!! More so, we are merely an extension of His desire that we should exist and nature has an existence only because He desires that it should exist in its form as we see it but that it has no permanence other than that which the Creator has placed into it.

More so, the will of the Creator is a constant willing. Each moment is a renewal of His original will. If one moment He suspends his will, then all will be lost with out any recollection. Yet He continues this will and so we continue to exist.

Such was our belief in Egypt. This was the belief that we acquired through the work of our distinguished patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It lies dormant in us, like the rotting seed in the ground into which the power of the earth enters. So the power of G-d's spirit entered into us while we were in Egypt in the time of the nature's re-birth, the spring. We were re-born as the Jewish Nation, the nation of G-d. The spirit of G-d came into the lowest, in the lowest state and gave birth to the nation that has held onto the true faith well over three and a half milleniums.

Has ever a nation experience the full revelation of G-d that we, as a total nation, experienced? Not one man alone, not several men, but an entire nation: men, women, and children. For this we as a nation celebrate Passover in our houses. Our father tells us what his father told his father told his father, until the chain extends back to the original Exodus, in the time of the spring, the re-birth of life, the festival of our liberation.


from the April 2000 Passover Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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