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Winter’s Bloom

Friday, 31 January, 2020 - 9:23 am

Wednesday will mark 70 years since Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of righteous memory took over the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Known affectionately as The Rebbe, he at first refused to accept the mantle of leadership, preferring a life of privacy.

When he finally acceded, he set forth a groundbreaking and revolutionary philosophy. In a world shattered by the Holocaust, displacement and assimilation – the Rebbe begged to differ from the norm. He declared that the world was Hashem’s beautiful garden. All we needed to do was reveal the inherent good. The inherent good in every person. The inherent good in the universe. The inherent good in our destiny.

At the time it seemed absurd.

Fast forward seventy years and the Rebbe’s call to action has been embraced by his biggest detractors. The revival of Jewish life and the forward-thinking attitude were all founded upon this basic principle. When you see a world full of chaos and struggle, do not despair. It’s a process and an opportunity, all poised to serve its true purpose. Beneath the surface, it’s a catalyst for greater good.

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In this week’s parsha Bo, we learn of the Jews’ Exodus from Egypt. We commemorate this event annually with the spring-time festival of Pesach (Passover). Interestingly, we always read about this in the Torah during the cold winter months.

The contrast between winter and spring is perhaps the greatest contrast of seasons. With the arrival of spring our senses jump with jubilation at the increased sunlight and warmth. We bask in the beautiful bloom surrounding us.

In reality however, winter is not really a time of stagnation. Rather, it is a different type of growth. Like the benefit of Shabbat, it helps us move forward. It offers seeds a period of vernalization, propelling their eventual blossoming in springtime.

The fact that the Jews left Egypt in spring reminds us that their time spent in Egypt was not wasteful. Quite the contrary, it was a germination of sorts. Their experience prepared them spiritually and emotionally to become a people and receive the Torah. Their winter (exile) is the foundation upon which their spring (freedom and purpose) was built.

The message of celebrating the Exodus in spring is a lesson for our attitude to the struggles we face. When faced with a challenge or a lull that seems to sap our energy and purpose we often feel like our time and energy was wasted.

In reality, it’s truly a step in the right direction. It’s up to us to refocus and utilize these opportunities.

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In honor of 70 years since the Rebbe embarked on a vision and mission to change the landscape of Judaism and to influence every single person for good, let’s recommit ourselves to viewing the world as Hashem’s beautiful garden. And, let’s do one more mitzvah to reveal the shining light inherent in every creature, every Jew and every experience.

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