Walking around Jerusalem, you can smell spring in the air. The trees, plants, bushes are all in bloom creating an intoxicating blend of aromas. The bees hover around the endless groups of rosemary bushes bathing in the pollen, ignoring people as they brush their hands over needles to enjoy the smell. The sun shines, washing over me with warmth. It is the season of birth and rebirth here in eretz hakodesh.
As Pesach approaches, we open our windows, throw out the winter and welcome in the New Year, with all of its possibilities and opportunities. Cleaning for Pesach, which here is a combination of kashering and spring cleaning, is winding into high gear. We use up our old chametz, and get rid of that which remains, clearing out the cabinets in preparation for the new, special foods, that will fill them in the week to come. And as we clear out our houses and cabinets, we clear out our hearts and souls, ridding them of the shmutz that gathers in the winter, opening the chambers of our hearts, and inhaling the new along with the smells of the season.
Even our parashah, Tazria, which focuses on states of ritual purity and impurity, opens with a focus on new life, on birth, on brit, and on the purity of the soul. In cases where sources of impurity would appear, we would turn to the Cohen, the priest, to recognize the nature of the impurity, to determine when it was gone, and to purify the setting. As we clear out our souls, it is now to us to recognize that which creates impurity – jealousy, hatred, anger – to remove it, creating space for goodness, hope, and joy.
Tomorrow, we focus on three new beginnings: the beginning of life in Tazria, the proclaiming of the new month, Nissan, which we will announce and bless, and the arrival of Pesach and the Exodus, when our family became a nation. As we listen, announce, and read, I pray that we all take time to insure that the windows of our soul are open wide, that we are clearing them out and making room for good at this, the springtime of our People.