Thursday, March 25, 2010

Parshas Tzav/Shabbos Hagadol 5770

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh, Parshas Tzav/Shabbos Hagadol

11 Nissan 5770/March 26, 2010

After a long, cold winter the warm spring sun has been particularly delightful. But old man winter didn’t leave quietly. Only after being battered by massive snowfall, upwards of two feet, as well as a massive nor’easter that brought us hurricane-like winds and rainfall, did the spring sun emerge.

Even now two weeks after the storm the effects are still visible. The weight of the snow, together with the relentless wind and rain was too much for many of the branches, and even whole trees. Although by now power has been restored, the snow has completely melted, and the rain has absorbed into the earth, a tremendous amount of the storm’s after-effects and debris are still visible everywhere.

As I drove around these last few weeks, I was thinking about why certain branches were able to withstand the brutal storm, while others could not. Sometimes large parts of a tree came crashing down, while the other half remained fully intact.

I concluded that for a branch to have survived the storm it needed to have two qualities: vitality and flexibility. It needed to have a good connection with the tree so that it could draw its nourishment through osmosis, and it had to be able to bend in the wind. Any branch that did not contain those two qualities ended up on the ground.

In addition, there were many trees that appeared robust and healthy which collapsed in the storm. The common theme about all those trees is that they were not firmly rooted deeply enough in the ground. Despite the fact that they seemed tall and proud, without deep roots they too could not withstand the onslaught of the storm.

It is well known that the Torah compares mankind to a tree (see Devorim 20:19). In the face of challenges and difficulties those who are vibrant and optimistic, with a positive “glass half-full” outlook, and are flexible are the most resilient people. In contrast, rigid and negative people have the most difficult time dealing with the tempests of life. It goes without saying that one also needs to be firmly rooted in his faith and beliefs.

The joyous holiday of Pesach is always celebrated during the emergence of spring. The season of rebirth and redemption purposely coincides with the season of physical rebirth and regeneration.

Life is not always idyllic and easy. There are many “periods of maror” mixed in. But one who is able to recite the blessing on the marror, understanding that it too comes from G-d, understands that shortly after the marror we eat the festive holiday meal.

Pesasch celebrates not only our birth as a people, but also our eternity, and our ability to withstand the vicissitudes and challenges of life.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos

Chag Kasher V’samayach,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum