Rabbinic Reflection: Rabbi Eliza McCarroll
Simcha Rabah, simcha rabah, aviv higiyah, Pesach ba …
“With great joy, with great joy, Spring is arriving, and Pesach is coming!”
This well-known verse might be a familiar tune as we mercifully herald in the new season, watch the snow begin to melt, and feel the cold begin to lift.
With the entry of spring, we also turn our hearts and minds to the Pesach festival, in which we ultimately celebrate the opportunity for our renewal.
This is especially in light of the fact that the month of Nissan, in which Pesach falls, was the original first month of the Hebrew calendar.
Although we as Torontonians and Canadians might look to the blossoming of the trees and the blooming of flowers as our signal that Spring is here, as Jews we also have another symbol of the promise of the season’s cycle: the karpas (parsley or similar green vegetable) on our Seder plate.
The first ritual food we eat during the Seder, we recite the blessing “borei p’ri ha’adamah” (praising God as the Creator of the fruits of the earth) over it. This is unusual because we would normally recite this blessing only over foods – specifically, vegetables – that have been cooked, but of course, we eat the karpas raw.
Rabbi Naftali ben Shimon Hertz Ginzburg provides his interpretation of this question, writing his commentary on the Haggadah in Poland at the end of the 17th Century.
He teaches that instead, it is an allusion to the Midrash about the Israelite women giving birth in the fields, and the ground swallowing up these precious bundles to protect them from the Egyptians when they came to look. As such, “borei p’ri ha’adamah” is a reminder of this miracle, and the miracle of freedom we recall at this time in our Jewish calendar.
As the heavy grey of winter recedes to become less gloomy, there is a sense that our sacred congregation itself is feeling a weight lift from its shoulders, and feeling much freer as we face Pesach 5783.
We can feel our sacred congregation breaking through the (frozen) grounds and blossoming once more, with much to look forward to on the horizon, whether that is volunteer opportunities for our YAD 20s/30s, our meaningful Pesach services, including Yizkor, and our commemorations for the Israeli holidays. You should particularly take note of all our Pesach events HERE.
With so much happening during this season of our renewal, we encourage you to come along and participate. Check out the website. Join us on Shabbat. Ask your rabbis and cantors.
We look forward to welcoming you and keeping you up-to-date with all the latest details.
Subsequently, may all of your labour’s efforts to be involved be fruitful, full of blessing, and full of spring joy.
May it be a season of “simcha rabah”, and an early Chag Pesach Sameach!
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