Pesach: The Month of Dreams

Rav Elchanan Nir • 2019

What is the significance of this monthly celebration apart from Pesach, which is only spread out over one week out of the four weeks of the month of spring? Rav Elchanan Nir explains the connection between spring and dreams, and between the holidays and the future of all of us.

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The yearly Hebrew calendar’s cycle rolls along between a stretch of different stations of identity. It moves between the autumn that heralds the coming of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, and the spring that brings the perfumed scent of Pesach. Like taking a multi-generational breath, we inhale and exhale the gust of generations: lighting Chanukah candles, rejoicing on Purim, gathering into the bosom of the extended family during Pesach, lighting bonfires on Lag BaOmer, and shrinking for the destruction, the collapse of our home and the exile of the Shekhinah during the Three Weeks (Bein ha-Metzarim).

Yet, only regarding one holiday is it explicitly stated in the Bible that it should be turned into a whole month of celebration:

Observe the month of Aviv (Spring), and keep the Passover unto the LORD thy God; for in the month of Aviv the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.

(Devarim 16:1)

A whole month, the month of spring, must be kept.

What is the significance of this monthly celebration apart from Pesach, which is only spread out over one week out of the four weeks of the month of spring? This is not interpreted, and the Bible has left us to ponder our own directions on how to preserve this flowering month.

For society, the holidays are like litmus paper: they demand that she examines herself - how she shapes her face over time. The holiday is the subject of a delicate and rooted tradition, which has been circling us for thousands of years and dozens of generations, and together with the tradition that continues and passes, every generation adds its colour, illuminating corners that its predecessors did not know. Thereby, it is worth doing some soul searching and paying attention  to the question of how the holidays are shaped in the State of Israel, as a society and as individuals.

Pesach, even more than the rest of the holidays, is the time for questions. It is even ruled that if a person has no one to ask he “should ask himself” (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 473:7). This is the mission of the entire month: to question and observe. This month should be guarded so it cannot slip through our hands. Through this observation we will look at ourselves and ask what these holidays mean to us us, how we seek to establish them as significant and identity-based, and how they will not be allowed to fall into the tangle of passionless, sleepy and tired folklore. For it is the time to seriously dream: what do we wish to leave here for future generations. I do not think that any of the constituents of current Israeli society has a magic solution to these questions, but I am convinced that together we can start weaving the seams that connect dreams to reality.

Passover, the holiday of questions, is the time to ask the questions and not give up. For, even though Danny Sanderson sang “In the world, child, there is no room for simple dreamers” - not so Nissan, it is the time to return to simplicity as the Maharal of Prague already taught us “Matzah is simple, not like chametz, which is complex” (Gevurot Hashem, chap. 26). Just like that, in simplicity: to be children again, to ask again.

And to dream, there is a need for trust. To rest in the leisure of the spring days and to say to others in a voice, slowly and not whispering: “You are a wonder and your soul is a great wonder, a novelty like you never was”. And more often than not it is harder to look at yourself and say out loud: “I am a wonder and my soul is a great wonder, a novelty like me never was”. When a person accepts himself and loves himself completely, aware of the grace that being and existence is redemption. That itself is Pesach.

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