Chag Someach Dear Readers Passover 5776

April 22, 2016
Israel 1972 Passover stamp

Israel 1972 Passover stamp

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In observance of Passover, we will not be posting any articles on the first two days of Pesach, which start tonight, Friday night,(coinciding with Shabbat) April 22, marked by candle lighting at 7:25 PM, 18 minutes before sunset. We expect to resume posting on Saturday night after nightfall.

Chabad.org has a section of their site where you can look up the proper time for your city. You can also find to articles about the holiday and other topics to download, print and read during the first part of Passover, which lasts two days outside of Israel and consists of one day each at the beginning and end of Passover in Israel. Aish.com is also an excellent site for resources to enhance enjoyment of the holiday.

Chabad.org has an article about a woman whose discharge from prison in Florida gave Passover a special resonance. In many instances, it is possible to derive personal growth from holidays that are shortchanged when treated exclusively as historical commemoration events.

Aish.com likewise has an article which deals with the manner in which we imprison ourselves through attitudes that shut us off from personal growth and peace of mind.

 

There are two extremes in approaches to societal change. On the one side is the belief that the future is in our hands, that we as a nation, as individuals or as the human race make our future, for better or worse. The other extreme is to wait passively for miracles or for redemption. In reality, G-d has made us partners. Creation, as well as the continued existence of the world is really a miracle, aside from the “biggies” like the splitting of the Red Sea. There are times we need to be reminded to use our G-d given abilities and resources, and times that we need to be reminded that G-d is, a partner with us, in order that we should use our free choice to better ourselves.

The best known part of Passover involves the seder, during which the story of the Exodus and the consumption of matzo and wine. The matzo commemorates the hasty flight of the Jews from Egypt, in which dough had to be taken out of Egypt and consumed en route before it even had a chance to rise.

One aspect of the story of the Exodus that has universal resonance is a theme that has recurred throughout history, that physical liberation is usually only a prelude to inner transformation. We did not leave Egyptian servitude to be free of all cares and to live in luxury. To the contrary, we were freed only in order to accept servitude to G-d, and the burden of providing physical creation with a bridge to G-dliness.

Looking at the accounts of war coming from the Middle East, and reading of parts of the world in which people are starving, it is obvious that we have a long ways to go, and that a qualitative inner change precede transformation of the world around us. The world contains the means to feed, clothe and house its inhabitants in a way that does not damage the earth’s balance. Unfortunately, the failure is not the earth, but ours. This failure is individual and collective. We are each given free choice in our own lives, in our family and as communities.

We have seen with Hitler, Lenin and Stalin that an individual can be a catalyst for great evil. Conversely, an individual can be a catalyst for good as well. This individual will be the Messiah, Moshiach, who will not do everything himself but direct the people in channeling the good within themselves.

Since our deliverance from Egyptian slavery, we have lost and gained our freedom several times. Despite this, we still commemorate the first Exodus, which remains centrally formative to our identity as individuals and a nation. The insights and experiences of those dark years continue to guide us today. Indeed, all of the festivals and holidays on the Jewish calendar each provide us with unique facets of spiritual nourishment and expressions of our character as a nation.

The world today is a place of strife and turmoil. But there is a future for the nations of the world of harmony and cooperation, of all the nations working together like organs of one body. May it be G-d’s will that this day come speedily.

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