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 Aside from the actual lessons and topics regarding freedom from bondage and the emergence of the national identity of the Jewish people, Pesach conveys to us the wonders of the natural seasons of the year here in Israel. The great Song of Songs of King Solomon occupies a place of honor in the synagogue service of the holiday and recorded in that most holy work are recorded colorful descriptions of the beauty and variety of nature here in the Holy Land.

Pesach always falls in the spring months here in Israel, a natural symbol for the constant rebirth and vitality of our ancient and ever young nation. For many centuries a significant portion of the Jewish people - especially in Eastern and Central Europe - lived in climates and under weather conditions that were uncomfortable and even brutal. Frigid winters of snow and ice were followed by impassable mud and then dusty and hot summers. Even nature in Eastern Europe was not necessarily kind to the millions of Jews who lived there.
In the United States, winter in the Midwest or the Northeast is usually quite cold and snowy, so spring is always a welcome arrival. But here in Israel it takes on a special meaning, more than just a change in weather. The season’s beauty is highlighted by the reappearance of the flowers and the blossoming of the fruit trees. Jews search for blossoms in order to recite the “blessing on the trees” in this month when Pesach arrives. Nature’s revival sparks a renewal within us as well. And that is a key ingredient in our Pesach celebration and commemoration,
Unfortunately in our super-technologically oriented society many are too busy texting to notice the natural beauty that surrounds us now. In general, our educational systems and life styles do not emphasize the wonders of nature. The Torah and the Talmud are both very nature oriented. The prevalent custom here in Israel to take nature hikes is a manifestation of our attempt to reintroduce a knowledge and appreciation of the natural surroundings into our lives.
There are entire sections and tractates of Mishna that are simply not understandable even to scholarly students of the Oral Law because of our ignorance of the botany and topography of Israel. My father told me that there were certain fruits that he never tasted or even saw until he came to study here in Israel in the middle 1920’s. Except for the ritually required citron, citrus fruit was practically an unknown commodity in his native Lithuania. In extolling the virtues of the Land of Israel, the Torah dwells constantly on its natural beauty and abundant food variety and sustenance.
The holiday of Pesach subtly carries with it this message of the wonders of nature, especially as they relate to the Land of Israel. So, wherever we find ourselves on this glorious holiday that falls in this month of such verdant natural beauty, we should pause to admire the world of beauty that God has placed us in. It will be a delight for the eyes and a blessing for the soul.
Chag kasher v’sameach
Rabbi Berel Wein

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