Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Twilight Zone

Although it may not feel like it, spring has begun. The days and nights have become more equal in length and Pesach is approaching fast. This got me thinking a little bit about something about spring that many do not realize.

Most people are familiar with the fact that the days are longest in the summer, shortest in the winter, and medium sized in the spring and autumn. Because of this, it is generally assumed that the length of twilight follows the same general schedule. This, however, is not the case. The longest twilights are in the summer, but the shortest are in the spring and autumn and the winter has the more medium length twilight periods.

The evening twilight is a transition period between day and night. From a halachic perspective, part of this time is not known whether it is day or night and is treated as if it were both. It is somewhat interesting to see that it is during the fall and spring that this transition period is most brief. Spring and autumn posses a similar quality. They are both similar in weather and are often viewed as being the transition periods between the cold season to warm and vice versa.

It was also during the springtime that Klal Yisrael transitioned from being a group of slaves and emerged into a nation. The transition of spring is one of development and growth, both of produce and of our nation. Perhaps, twilight is shortest at this time in order for us to recognize that the transition into being a better and more complete person or nation does not always take a very long time. We were able to achieve the status of angels and stand at the foot of Har Sinai a mere forty-nine days after leaving Egypt as a bunch of low class slaves! Perhaps we can learn from the brief twilights of spring that although sometimes we see personal growth as a long and arduous process, if one puts all of his efforts into it then he will develop much more quickly then originally thought.

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