Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Springs When It . . .

The purpose of this blog is to help conversation bloom at your Shabbat table. How about printing it?
Happy Birthday to Barry in Mill Valley. Happy birthday to Dee-Dee in Portland.
Wishing you health and wisdom til 120.

Mar21snowLast week's email about Stephen Flatow* generated a massive response. (If you missed it, his inspiring story is archived here.) It's a story of persistence. Commitment. Intellectual clarity.

This week the world is facing a more.... let's call it an critical thinking issue.

Today is supposedly the first day of Spring.

So how come it's snowing in New York?????

In other words, who says it's the first day of spring?

And why should we believe them?

Think about it.

Look it up: the official answer is, "equinox."

OK, how many people reading this know what that means?

How many people reading this know someone who knows what that means?

Look it up, it's not as simple as you thought.

In other words, once upon a time, spring meant, "when flowers blossom".

Spring meant an experience of rebirth and renewal.

Spring meant a spring in your step. Spring meant a new hope. Spring meant optimism.

Then somebody somewhere (probably Julius Caesar) said, "Hey, in mid-March the sun appears to traverse the equator - let's call that "spring".

And we all said, "Okay" without giving it a second thought.

Nevermind that it's snowing and nothing is blooming.

It's spring, buddy, ignore your feelings and watch your step on the ice.

Come to think of it, maybe that's why Brutus et al. killed him on the Ides. "You want to tell us when spring begins? We'll show you!"

"Et tu, Brute?"

"Out, et moi! That's for trying to tell us when spring begins, and that's for your stupid Julian Calendar being off by three days every 400 years, and that's for the seriously unhealthy ceasar salad."

So on this allegedly auspicious week I challenged a group of 10th-graders to a critical-thinking exercise: come up with five different ways to define spring.

They came up with six.

How many can you come up with?

Shabbat Shalom

* Clarification: I received the story via email from an unknown source. I edited the story. My edits were both major and minor. I did change the font in the story to indicate where the (revised) text begins and ends. I probably could have and should have tracked down the original author, but (as I wrote), I was pooped.

PS - It is really time to start thinking about Pesach - 2 weeks! If you want my list of suggested seder gimmicks and gadgets, send me an email. Browse books and toys here and don't forget the Art of Amazement Haggada — Leader's Edition.
You can download a preview here.

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