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This Shabbos we will celebrate the festival of Shemini Atzeres. The Torah reading tells us to1 “Keep the month of spring, and make the Pesach offering to Hashem. For in the month of spring, Hashem brought you out of Egypt at night.” Rashi cites the words “keep the month of spring” and explains the meaning of these words. “Before (the month of) Nissan arrives, watch that it should be fit for spring, capable of producing ripe ears of barley by the sixteenth of the month. These would be needed to offer as the Omer offering. And if not, (if it is not yet spring,) proclaim it a leap year2.”
We can understand everything in the Torah on many different levels. There is the simple meaning of each verse. However, each verse can also be interpreted according to an infinite levels, each higher and more profound than that which preceded it. We would like to explain the above verse with Rashi’s comments in a manner that will provide us with a lesson in the service of Hashem.
During the winter, all growth is hidden; it is asleep. It seems to us as if there is no growth whatsoever. During the spring, the beauty and greenery suddenly awakens. We become aware that nature was temporarily gathering its strength. Now, in the spring, it appears in all of its glory.
The same was true during our exile in Egypt. It was a bitter time, both for the physical body and the soul. When we left Egypt, we were on the forty-ninth level of impurity. We were able to lift ourselves up in a mere fifty days days to a level that allowed us to receive the Torah directly from the Almighty Himself.
This provides each of us with a lesson. At timers we may (G-d forbid) undergo a period during which there appears to be no growth. Everything around us seems to be frigid and lifeless. We must realize that this is just a temporary state. We are merely gathering the strength needed to “spring” into life. We must indeed never become despondent. We need to be constantly aware that we are now able to step up, to rise to the complete and true redemption with our righteous Moshiach immediately now.
I wish one and all a good Shabbos, Yom Tov, and the best year ever!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Igros Kodesh Volume 4, Letter 994
DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס