Saturday, April 4, 2015

Passover: Past, Present, And Future


It is that time of year when the holidays converge. While Christians throughout the world celebrated Good Friday yesterday and will be celebrating Easter tomorrow, Jews are delving into the Torah and recounting our escape from Egypt. All of the basic information about the Passover holiday can be found in my post last year and some reflections can also be found immediately following that post. However, this Passover is quite different than those in the past.

This year I find myself thinking not just about the past but also about the present and future. This is our son’s first Passover and while he isn’t completely aware of all that is taking place it is a moment that my wife and I are enjoying. While in the past the holiday has been to remind ourselves and fulfill our needs, now we find ourselves the bearers of tradition and faith. We are the ones that will pass along and tell these stories to our son.

It all starts with the seder but goes well beyond a single night. With that in mind I wanted to share a few pieces from a blog written by Rabbi Chaim Coffman whom I had the pleasure of meeting during our brief time living in Jerusalem. He was a great reassuring resource at that time and his posts continue to provide tremendous guidance for all who come across his blog:

The purpose of the seder is to retell the story of the exodus from Egypt and instill in us the idea that G-d interferes and plays a role in history. As the first of the Ten Commandments tells us we know G-d exists because He took us out of Egypt! The mitzvah to believe in G-d comes from this command but the belief in G-d is through knowledge, not just a flippant "I believe" based on nothing…

…Another idea to keep in mind as the Haggadah tells us is that had G-d not taken us out, we would still be there. This is incredulous because the ruling power in every nation has power for a certain amount of time but then it eventually ends either through military takeover or through elections. If that is true, could it possibly be true that the Jewish people would never have escaped?

The commentaries tell us that according to nature it could not have happened. When G-d tells Moshe to go to Egypt and take the Jewish people out, he refuses. One of the reasons he does not want to go is because when he looks up to heaven, he sees an angel of G-d and an angel of Egypt (each nation has their own guardian angel) intertwined like a double helix and understood that the Jewish people would never be allowed to leave.

G-d tells him that in essence that may be true but since G-d can do anything, He will take the Jewish people out from Egypt through miracles that are above nature. As we go through the plagues, we realize just how true that is!

At the same time, the Haggadah tells us that only G-d did this, not through an angel, intermediary..i.e. to show G-d's power and demonstrate that the world power at that time was utterly destroyed through the miraculous plagues that G-d brought about against the mighty Egyptians.;

If we look at history, the Jewish people have survived against the natural world. As they have been dispersed without their own land for thousands of years, it is nothing short of unbelievable how they have survived! We have been exiled, gassed, had pogroms against us. and still the Jewish people continue to survive.

They survived through belief in G-d and His Torah and continue to thrive. May we take these timely messages and let them infuse in us belief in Him that will lead to the Messiah coming speedily in our days!!

May each and every one of us have a enjoyable and meaningful Passover.

In the end, while we certainly have influence over our own destiny we can’t forget the influence that G-d plays in our lives. It is a great comfort knowing that the hardships we face are temporary and that the joy we experience will stay with us forever. That deep faith and belief in G-d is what we share with our son. After all, he is G-d’s gift to us and we thank Him each day for our child.