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A Blossoming Peach Tree

Friday, 12 April, 2019 - 6:19 pm

Peach Flower.jpgEvery so often I end up in my wife's hometown of Los Angeles where even in midwinter the plants are blooming and the flowers are blossoming. When I see that, especially when I know that it is still winter back east and the branches are bare and the ground is frozen, it is both enjoyable and refreshing.

At the same time, it always make me think, that there is something uniquely invigorating about Spring that is only appreciated in the wake of a Winter. When the first flowers break out the still cold ground and the blossoms appear on the barren trees which appeared to have been dead for the last few months, there is an incredible life that is beginning to burst forth that is inspiring and uplifting.

The truth is, that the Winter is not just a period of no growth and dead foliage, it is also the time when the plant is actually still vibrant and active, and busy staying alive until the Spring arrives. The dead foliage and leaves that fall off, create the space for new growth and bloom that will come with the new season.

What is true about the world we live in is also true in humans, we all have our moments of Winter and our moments of Spring. But just like in nature, the Winter moments need to be looked at as enablers and precursors of the Spring moments.

Tellingly in this week’s Torah portion it continues discussing the condition of Tzaraat, a spiritual impurity with a physical manifestation that affected people’s skin, clothing and houses during Biblical times, which resulted from negative talk about others. As Maimonides describes, it was a supernatural phenomenon which was G-d’s way of telling the Jewish people, that their behavior and manner of speech about others, really matters.

When the person was diagnosed by the Priest to have a confirmed case of Tzaraat, they had to leave the city walls or camp of the Jewish people and wait alone for a period of time, until they became pure. During this time they could not interact with others, and they had time to reflect on their negative speech and the damage that is does to others.

On the one hand, this diagnosis was considered a terrible spiritual impurity with tremendous repercussions, on the other hand, it is spoken about primarily in a portion that is called Tazria, “Conception” implying that the negative experience was also the beginning of a new life. In a certain sense through going through this negative experience and becoming more mindful of the manner of one’s speech and conversation about other people, allowed the person to become something new and something different and begin a new phase of life.

Could the person have developed this sensitivity to better speech about others without this experience? Possibly. Yet at the same time, there was something uniquely powerful that the person could take away from this, only as a result of having gone through this difficult process which led them to have a deeper empathy for others and caused them to converse with greater sensitivity to others.

We all have our Winter moments, but they are also what make our Spring moments so much better.

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy Spring and an amazing uplifting time of renewal and improvement.

Shabbat Shalom


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