Did you know, that our Sages didn't institute the festival of Purim immediately after the miracle of Purim occurred! They waited a year. Why would they wait a year and not institute it immediately? The first halacha in the Shulchan Aruch, the code of Jewish law, says that you should try to jump out of bed in the morning like a lion! We're supposed to be active and eager in our service of Hashem. So why wait a year?

The reason can be found in our understanding of the Jewish festivals. Our festivals are not just memorial days of historic events. Pesach is not our version of Australia Day. Each festival that we celebrate is a spiritual event, that occurred not only at the time of the original event that we are commemorating, but occurs every year at that same time. For example, Purim was a time that Hashem intervened and saved us, but there are specfic lessons that we should learn from the story of Purim, and specific ideas that are linked to it. The Sage s realised that it was a great miracle the second we were saved from Haman, but that didn't mean it was supposed to be a festival. To see that, they had to wait until the exact same time in the following year, to see if they could detect the same spiritual energy that had been present a year earlier. If so, then Purim should be a festival, where every year, at that time, we don't remember the miracle that was - we relive it.

Every chag (festival) in the Jewish calender follows the same principle.

So when we turn to Pesach, which is just a few days away, the question isn't just: What can we learn from what happened when we left Mitzrayim? The question is: What is going to happen tomorrow? This explains the Rambam, and in fact the haggada itself, who says that on the night of the seder, every single person has the obligation to view themselves as if they themselves are leaving mitzrayim. That's why we recline while we drink our four cups of wine, and even get the person sitting next to us to pour them for us instead of pouring them ourselves - we are trying to make ourselves feel what is actually occuring as we sit there......

But what is occurring as we sit there?

The simple answer is that we are becoming free people. We are going out of slavery and into freedom, and that's why we lean to the side as we drink our cups of wine and get someone else to pour for us - because we are free! But I find that hard to stomach. How free were the Jews who were having their seder in the ghettos of Europe? Not very. So what does it mean that we went out of slavery and into freedom? What does it mean that tonight I am going out of slavery and into freedom?

When reading the story of the Exodus in the Torah, there is a point, just after Moshe has told Pharaoh that there is going to be the Plague of the Firstborn, but before it has actually occurred, that is really the switching point between slavery and redemption. Everything has just been locked into place, and the Jewish people are now to start preparing to leave. It is at this point that we are given the first mitzva of the Torah:

"This month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year." (Shmot 12:2)

This is the mitzva of the lunar calender that we keep, of which the first month of the year is Nissan, the month of Pesach, the month that we are in now. Why is this mitzva given now?! What does it have to do with our exodus from Egypt? And why does it merit to be the first mitzva of the Torah?!

The Ramban explains that when Hashem gave us this calender, He invented a new type of "Time" and gave it to the Jewish people. Let me explain.

The term in Ivrit for month is: Chodesh. It is the same word as Chadash, which means new. The term for time in Ivrit is: Zman. It is the same word as hazmana, which means preparation.

The Jewish concept of time, the time that we live in, is all a preparation to arriving at a destination. We are working towards something - to bringing the whole world to perfection. Because that is our view of time, that we are preparing to get to a goal, our time is a time of chadash. Meaning, it is a time of newness and renewal, because every moment is not just another moment just like the previous one - it is a moment one step closer to that goal. We are counting down...10, 9,8....and every moment is a completely new moment closer to that goal of Creation. That is a time of Chadash - of renewal and newness.

That's why our calender is linked to the moon. The moon waxes and wanes - it is constantly changing. The solar calender is not like that. The sun never changes. Every moment is a new moment, that cannot be denied, but it is a moment identical to the previous one - because there is no countdown to a goal.

When Hashem took us out of Egypt, He created a nation that could count that countdown, and help the entire world come to that goal of Creation. He took us out of Egypt, gave us the Torah, and brought us to a Land where we can perfect ourselves, and through us the entire world. When we left Egypt the Jewish People were born and the countdown was able to begin, and so Hashem introduced into the world "Zman" - the time of Preparation and of Newness.

Pesach is a birth of a nation that has been imbued with the task of leading this world to its completion and making it look and feel the way Hashem intended when He created it - to perfect it, starting with ourselves.

We are as much a part of that mission as our forefathers were. They just happened to be given that mission as they actually left Egypt, and we just happen to be given that mission as we sit at our Seder recalling the bestowal of this incredible task upon our people.

When the haggada mentions that "In every generation a person is obligated to see him/herself as if he went out of Mitzrayim" it brings a proof from a verse in the book of Shmot that says "And us He took our from there". The people who said this were the Jews in the desert on their way to the Land of Israel, but they were not the original people who left Mitzrayim, they were born afterwards, and yet they knew that they had also been taken out of Mitrayim.... They had also been given this mission.

The next paragraph in the haggada says: "Therefore, we are obligated to give things and praise and glorify and beautify and upraise and bless the One who did for our forefathers and for us all these miracles. That He took us for slavery to freedom, from subjugation to redemption, from pain to happiness, from mourning to festivals, from darkness to a great light."

On Pesach of old and every Pesach since, Hashem has given us this gift of a new type of time: A time that is counting down to a better world in which Hashem removes all the pain that exists in our world at the moment. The better we 'count', the sooner that time will be.

Pesach in a way is a new beginning. It's a time to look at our history - where we came from and where we are today, to hear that clock ticking, and realise that there is not much more time left to count before we get to the beginning of that goal: A period of freedom, redemption, happiness, festivity, and a great great light.

May it be speedily and in our days. Next year in Jerusalem! Chag Sameach!

Add comment

Have something to say?
Please make your comment below!
All comments are reviewed prior to publication. Absolutely NO loshon hara or anything derogatory or hurtful to anyone will be permitted on the website.

Security code