The liminal season

The liminal season

It’s always such an odd season, these weeks between Purim and Pesach. The month sees a shift in weather as winter (usually) gives up its sad black-edged snowy grip and spring unfurls. It usually sees Jewish households in frantic clean-up-throw-out-scour-the-kitchen-scour-the-stores-buy-cook-buy-cook-freeze-freeze-freeze mode, and at the same time spring clothes are pulled out of closets and drab winter wools stuffed gratefully away.

This year, though, seems weird. Oddly unsettled.

Maybe it’s the weather. It’s been so cold for so long that spring seems unlikely, even though it began yesterday; right now the sky is the bright blue of April, but the air still has the pale, sharp-shadowed look of winter.

And maybe it’s because the world itself, always precarious, seems so much more so just now. Maybe it’s the plane that vanished into the clear blue sky of Malaysia after flying over the Strait of Malucca – exotic, nearly fairy-tale places – and maybe it’s the resurgence of Cold War rhetoric in Ukraine and Crimea, a place whose name evokes Tennyson and Victorian wars. (The Crimea is where the Charge of the Light Brigade happened – “Storm’d at with shot and shell,/ Boldly they rode and well,/ Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell/ Rode the six hundred.” Let’s hope that’s not a template for our century.)

But things do change. The light does get richer. The shadows lose their edge. Pesach and its message of liberation draws closer by the day, beckoning at the other end of the charge of the kitchen brigade.

It’s spring. There really is hope.