Monday, April 14, 2014

Don’t Pass Over Passover

When it comes to Passover I have always been a ‘bad Jew’. Even during my more observant years, there were many observances that seemed to go unfulfilled. From attending synagogue to ridding the apartment of leavened products, the holiday always seemed to sneak up on me and these basic tasks were put off with the hope of improving next year. Well, like many things, if you put them off they are just not going to happen.

However, I always took time to remember the story of Passover and have taken time every year to think about the importance of that moment in my faith. Whether you believe that it actually happened or not it is a story that really makes you stop and think about the ‘what if’ that could have prevented Judaism from continuing to exist. For those of you in need of a quick refresher, here is the very condensed overview provided by (Click here for the full Passover story):

After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, G‑d saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed G‑d’s command. G‑d then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.

At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), G‑d visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, G‑d spared the Children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday. Pharaoh’s resistance was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. The Israelites left in such a hurry, in fact, that the bread they baked as provisions for the way did not have time to rise. Six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day, and began the trek to Mount Sinai and their birth as G‑d’s chosen people.

For those of you that can’t believe such a series of events ever having occurred, I invite you to consider the explanations presented in “The Exodus Decoded”. Simply put, this is applying science to the story and applies many of the seemingly unrelated events and possibilities to the Passover story. If anything, it is something interesting to watch and will undoubtedly make you think a little bit.

In the end, regardless of your observance, Passover is a time to think about your faith and also what your ancestors have done for you to ensure that you have a place in this world and a faith to which you can hold fast. The story, the challenges faced by Moses, and the journey that began with that sequence of events is something that we can all apply to our own histories. This is a time to be thankful that sometimes G-d passes over us in order to save us and the challenges we endure will come to an end and bring us to a state of peace with ourselves and our faith. So, take time to embrace Passover, the freedom it represents, and apply that to your life.  Be thankful for all that you have, the challenges that you have faced, and the bright future that is always within reach.