In the world of Chinuch, parents and educators may not see the results of their extensive efforts through the droughts of “winter”. Pesach comes to teach us a lesson about boundless potential as spring looms on the horizon.
“Observe the month of Spring and keep the Passover unto the L-rd your G-d, for in the month of Spring the L-rd your G-d brought you out of Egypt by night.” (Devarim 16:1)
Pesach ushers in the sunny and warm springtime. In nature, spring brings to the surface natural forces which were hidden during the winter. Barren trees suddenly bloom with budding flowers that, in time, blossom into ripe fruits and plentiful bounty. The entire natural world is energized with a renewed vitality, as the possibility of growth becomes a reality. It is only during this time, in the month of Nissan, that we are permitted to say a blessing on blossoming fruit trees. In a letter on 1 Iyar 5711, the Lubavitcher Rebbe uses this inspiration to describe a deeper element to these seemingly natural phenomena, applying this idea to the human condition.
“There can be a state of ‘winter’, of apparent unproductivity in the life of a person. But no Jew or Jewess should consider themselves – and certainly should not be considered by others – as having terminated their usefulness, even though a long time of fruitlessness has elapsed. Given the proper inspiration and stimulus, the state of ‘winter’ can easily and suddenly be changed into ‘spring’ and blossom time, which eventually will ripen into good fruits for G-d and man.”
This inspiring idea, based in the core belief of each person’s boundless potential, can also be tied into the central themes of Pesach. For two hundred and ten years, the children of Israel lived in Egypt, in physical and spiritual slavery, stagnating in the abominations of Egypt. It did not seem that there could ever be a revival of Jewish life. Nevertheless, their redemption came in in the middle of the Month of Spring, and the children of Israel were freed – so free in fact, that in a very short time they went from the depths of impurity in Egypt to being worthy of receiving the Torah – the ultimate purpose of the entire universe.
This powerful message strongly resonates within the educational community. Very often, teachers struggle under the assumption that they are toiling in vain, with seemingly no growth or movement in their students’ desire to learn or success in their studies. The day to day changes are minuscule, almost impossible to discern as the teachers press forward in their sacred task. Yet, when we look back years down the line, and discover the fruits of our labor – Torah-true Jews living their life inspired and dedicated to their traditions, continuing in the ways of the Jewish People – we discover that “winter” was simply biding its time before spring.
As parents, educators and lay leaders, we must never doubt the deep investment in our children’s education. We look to the lessons of Pesach, of a People redeemed and renewed, to the lessons of Spring, of revitalization and boundless potential, and we know that we too will be blessed to see our children blossom, grow and succeed.
Rabbi Zalman Shneur
A tireless activist on behalf of Jewish learning and professional education, Rabbi Shneur founded the Menachem Education Foundation in an effort to raise the bar for Chabad education. He is widely recognized for his solutions-oriented approach to challenges and his passionate advocacy for students.