Moshe Phillips
Moshe Phillips courtesy

If the three weeks leading up to Tisha B'Av are, in ancient Jewish wisdom, called "Between the Straits" (based upon Eichah [Lamentations] 1:3) and the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Days of Awe, then, what is the essence of these weeks between Purim and Passover?

I would posit that these are Days of Love.

It seems to me that in addition to the injunction of the Rabbis to study the laws of Pesach during this time frame there is something much deeper here.

This season is bracketed by Purim and Pesach and at its core, is a time of love. Both holidays represent a time when Hashem provided salvation from dangerous enemies, who strived to commit horrific crimes against the Jewish People that posed an existential threat. Hashem’s salvation involved the complete defeat and destruction of Pharaoh and Haman. And each of these enemies died with all of his close co-conspirators. Moreover, Hashem annihilated these enemies in an amazingly public way in order for all nations to hear about this love He has for the Jewish People and believe it as a fact.

How do we know that these events and holidays are all about Hashem's love?

Both salvations led to the Jewish people making Aliyah, and G-d providing the Jewish People with a home is a powerful and compelling sign of His profound love. The Dayenu song in the Haggadah also contains a reference to the importance of Aliyah in this salvation as the text includes "had not brought us into the Land of Israel."

The entire section of the Shema prayers, in both the classic morning and evening liturgies, there are interwoven themes of Aliyah, freedom, salvation, Torah study, vengeance (which is just as surely a sign of closeness and concern as the other themes), and love into a vital tapestry of Jewish concepts that are profoundly vivid during Purim and Passover.

What's more, it is our duty to make sure that we recognize every day, all year long, until the time of the arrival of the Moshiach, and the triumphant and glorious Final Redemption we are promised, that Hashem's love is the reason He gave us the Land of Israel.The prayer that is recited immediately preceding Shema is known as "Ahava Rabba" [Abundant Love] as it begins with just those words and concludes with the blessing "Who chooses His people Israel with love." G-d's love for us is the final thought before Shema and Tzitzit are gathered during the paragraphs after Shema in a fervent beseeching of G-d for Aliyah.

A final thought:

None of the above assumptions are new at all, quite the contrary, and a close reading of classic Jewish sources witness this. An example of this in our ancient wisdom that I find particularly inspiring is as follows: “The Holy One, Blessed Be He said, `The Land of Israel is more dear to me than any other land… and the Jewish people are dear to me… I will bring the Jewish people who are dear to me, into the Land of Israel which is dear to me,’” (Bamidbar Rabbah 23).

Wishing you inspiration and meaning during this time as we prepare for a Pesach. We pray that this year's Seder should be the first one in millenia that finds all Jews in Israel celebrating together and no one left behind in Exile.

Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press. He was a U.S. delegate to the 38th World Zionist Congress in 2020. The views expressed are his own.