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February/March Message

04/04/2012 09:57:44 PM



Since this is a two month bulletin, I have an opportunity to share with you the importance of, and a common thread running through, three different holidays: Tu B‟Shevat, Purim, and Pesach.
Yes, Tu B‟shevat is a minor observance. True, Purim is a “minor” holiday (meaning that it is not found in the Five Books of Moses, but later in the book of Esther), and that Pesach, Passover, is one of the major holidays found in the Pentateuch. Yet each has an amazing message, and I want to show you how all share a common thread.
Tu B‟shevat, the Fifteeenth of Shevat, arrives this year on February 8th. It is the Jewish Arbor Day, and on it many celebrate by eating fruits, especially those grown in Israel, while also underscoring the importance of trees and all of Hashem‟s creation. There is a custom to have a Seder, which we will have on Shabbat, February 4th.
Purim, meaning lots, comes directly from the Tanach‟s book of Esther. It portrays the 11th hour saving of our people from annihilation by the hands of the evil Haman. He had cast lots to find the “lucky” day when he could kill all Jews. The four mitzvot we celebrate on Purim include listening to the book of Esther read from the Megillah the evening and day of Purim, March 7th and 8th, Matanot „Levyonim, giving tzedakah to the poor, Shalach Manot, gifts of food to one another, and Seudah, the festive meal held on Purim day.
Since Pesach commences the night of April 6th, with the first Seder, and continues through the 14th, we needed to place the forms for Mechirat Chametz (the Selling of our leavening) and for Maot Chitim (tzedakah to aid individuals for the Passover holiday) in this bulletin.
Of course, Pesach is one of our major holidays which affects us to this day. Our prayers include the “reminder of our going out from Egypt.” For, this is the quintessential experience of actually witnessing Hashem‟s open miracles. From the Ten Plagues to the splitting of the Sea
of Reeds, to the giving of the Torah, our ancestors experienced G-d firsthand. The miracles were apparent, not hidden.
What is the common thread running through Tu B‟shevat, Purim, and Pesach? It is none other than the hidden miracles.
Every day, three times a day, we pray in the Amidah, the Devotion, the paragraph of Modim “We give thanks.” In it we include our gratefulness to Hashem for the miracles performed every day.
These hidden miracles are tremendous indeed. The fact that each day is renewed, that the Laws of Nature are intact, allowing for the proper rotation and revolution of our earth and sun, the rejuvenation of our bodies, the birth of a baby, being only some examples.
Tu B‟shevat is observed when the sap begins to flow in the trees in Israel. From the budding of trees in the spring, to the growth of plants, to supplying our needs, these are all hidden miracles. When we are challenged with drought or too much rain, we are reminded that all of this and more is in G-d‟s hands, not ours.
Purim is the paradigm of hidden miracles. In fact Hashem‟s name isn‟t mentioned once in the book of Esther. One of the reasons is to illustrate how G-d works behind the scenes through people, Mordecai and Esther in a major way, and others in an even more hidden way. Pesach, the holiday of overt miracles, still has the hidden ones. The biggest one of these is that the B‟nai Yisrael didn‟t lose their identities during their centuries in Egypt and that they kept alive the idea and hope that there would be a time when they would be redeemed.
With this in mind, your Hebrew for this month will be from the Modim in the Amidah:
ועל נסיך שבכל יום
(And for Your miracles that daily attend us).
Literally: V‟al
And On B‟ydidut,
Nisecha Your miracles
Shebchol Yom That Every Day
Wed, August 12 2020 22 Av 5780