Milwaukee Spring: Reflections on Passover by Yonina Schlussel

“How do you survive the winters?” is usually the first question I get when I tell people I live in Wisconsin. And the truth is, it’s not easy. Not only do we have our share of snow days (never for less than a foot of snow), but there are also times school is cancelled because it is too cold, such as having a wind chill of negative forty degrees! The real winter “excitement” for me this year was in December when the conference I had been coordinating for six months was cancelled because a snowstorm with 40 mile per hour winds made the roads impassable.

Through winter here, while we are in hibernation mode, it is hard to imagine that spring will ever come. It doesn’t seem like we can possibly move out of our current actuality to that totally different dimension.

But eventually we make it. And for us, spring is a true miracle. As the days become longer and warmer, the snow amazingly melts and disappears. Buds begin to appear on the trees, crocuses pop their heads through the soil, and the grass turns green. The world which had appeared cold, dark and dreary for so long is now bright and cheerful; where no potential for growth seemed to exist, now is full of new possibilities.

So I guess faith is how we Wisconsinites survive winter. By trusting that even though it doesn’t seem possible, a new beautiful reality will sprout right before our eyes, and we will appreciate it even more because it had previously seemed unattainable.

Rebbitzen Heller said that is why we adjust the Jewish calendar so Pesach is in the spring- a time of freshness and renewal in nature. Spring, she noted, is a physical manifestation of what is available spiritually. In our lives we can at times feel stuck in situations that seem cold, dark and dreary, without an end in sight- as the Jews in Egypt could not imagine escaping a life of slavery. Pesach in the spring teaches us to have faith that G-d can break us through to a new reality that seemed impossible a short time ago. Similar to the Jews miraculous exodus from Egypt, and the emergence of spring, we too can experience redemption from our personal and national challenges.

Reflect deeply:
1) Were you ever stuck in a situation that seemed impossible to escape, yet miraculously a solution you never considered solved the entire problem? Or have you seen a family member or friend break free from a negative habit or situation in a totally unexpected way?
2) Where in your life do you feel enslaved by your patterns of thinking, habits and/or interactions with others? Try to allow yourself to imagine moving past those obstacles. Create a vision of your freedom and your ideal self even if it you have no idea how you could get there.
3) Pray this Pesach that you merit to utilize the power of this time period (of spring and of the Exodus) to reach your vision.

Yoni Schlussel OTR, CLC enjoys helping people live inspired lives through her coaching practice (Nitzachon HaNefesh- Higher Soul Coaching), teaching at Torah Academy of Milwaukee, volunteering as an educational consultant for the Rabbi Aryeh Nivin’s personal development chaburas, and writing on her blog. She lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and children.

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