Posted By on March 16, 2018

Signs that spring will really arrive; in Boston bunches of tulips appear in stores, in Florida the winter residents leave and the year-round residents reappear on the beaches, and in both places whole aisles in grocery stores are packed with kosher-for-Passover food.

About six months ago, as we celebrated the first of the four Jewish new years-the one honoring the turning of the calendar year-we spent a day in our synagogues asking for forgiveness, for ourselves individually and for our community. On Yom Kippur we prayed in spoken words and song, as we beat our chests and apologized and asked for the chance for a redo. (One of my favorite parts of Judaism is the knowledge that I can ask for forgiveness as soon as I go awry, not having to wait until Yom Kippur, worrying for months.) Now, after six months, along comes Pesach, the third new year. I think of this harbinger-of-spring holiday as also my check-in time; have I kept my part of the contract/agreement/brit that I made with God and signed on Yom Kippur, have I tried my best to stay on the right track.

The years are repetitive; seasons follow each other in a very predictable rhythm, as do the months and the holidays. For me the holiday cycle is also about Gods participation in our lives and begins with Pesach. In this holiday God is key. As it is written over and over, we left Egypt because I am the lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Moses led us out, but God gave him the directions. Yet, even with Moses leading us with specific instructions, we didnt all leave Egypt. For some of us the thought of leaving what we knew and going into the unknown was too frightening.

According to some commentary, as we celebrate the rest of the holidays in their order, Gods participation slowly diminishes. The last holiday in the cycle, before Pesach reappears, is Purim. Gods name never appears; its all about Esther saving us.

But, the God with whom I have a constant conversation in my thoughts does not leave me. I always feel a presence hovering over my shoulder. This sense of God is my support, in whatever form it may appear; a friend, one of my kids, a doctor or extended family member. To me, God must have somehow been present in Esthers life so that she could be strong and forceful. Or, as Yehuda Amichai wrote in one of his poems, Gods hand is in the world.

As we are meant to be learning and evolving and questioning until our last moment, I breathe easier knowing that, for me, Gods presence exists and is part of my journey every day.

The place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you. Hafitz

(The second new year, the15 Shevat, is the New Year for trees, and the last one is 1 Elul, the New Year for the tithing of cattle. )

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