On Monday and Tuesday nights, we will be talking a lot about the Exodus from Egypt. After all, it’s Pesach, the Festival of our Liberation from Egyptian bondage.
But Pesach is not the only time that we talk about the Exodus. As Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah explains tell us in the Hagaddah, retelling the Exodus must be both a daily and nightly event. Indeed the reason that we recite the third chapter of the Shema - although it seems to have little to do with the first two chapters - is because of the mention of the Exodus that it contains. Our Rabbis knew that we would say Shema every morning and every night so added on the the third chapter - Vayomer - to ensure that we wouldn’t forget to mention the Exodus from Egypt.
But there’s another time that the mention of the Exodus is prominent too.
Every Shabbat and Yom Tov, when we make Kiddush, we recall the Exodus from Egypt with the words - zecher l'yetziat mitzraim.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, arguably the greatest posek of our generation, posed a question: Mentioning the Exodus on Yom Tov makes sense. Every Yom Tov is in one way or another connected to the Exodus: Pesach, obviously so. Shavuot - when we received the Torah on Mt Sinai - took place 50 days after the Jews left Egypt. Succot - commemorates the Clouds of Glory that protected them on their journey through the wilderness after leaving Egypt. But what has the Exodus to do with Shabbat? Shabbat, the day in which G-d ceased the work of Creation, preceded the Exodus by 2,448 years!
Rabbi Feinstein explains: It is possible to believe - as many unfortunately do - that after G-d created the world and implanted in it the laws of nature, He left it to its own devices. Not dissimilar to the way that a watchmaker assembles a clock, and then leaves it to tick along on its own.
In other words, one can believe in G-d Who once created the world, while not believing that G-d concerns Himself, let alone interferes, with the world or its inhabitants after He has created it. And if that is the case, there is no point in praying to G-d. He simply doesn't care.
Until the Exodus, continues Rabbi Feinstein, one could be forgiven for thinking so. But In Egypt G-d demonstrated that He did care: He listened when the Israelites cried out to Him from the depths of their hearts and He responded by redeeming them from slavery.
Thus the Exodus was not merely an exit from Egypt. It was also an Exodus from the wrong-headed view that G-d has forsaken the world. To emphasise this, we mention the Exodus in Kiddush. It is a statement that the world that G-d created in six days, and rested from on the seventh, is of utmost concern to G-d. He cares about it, interferes with it when necessary, and most certainly listens to our prayers just as He listened to the prayers of our ancestors in Egypt.
Exodus was not a one-time miracle. G-d’s interest and involvement with the world was not limited to the Exodus. Anytime we cry out to G-d with sincerity G-d listens, cares and responds. It may not necessarily be in the form or manner that we are expecting, just as a parent does not always give her beloved child everything that the child wants.
And, just as in Egypt, we may not see his response right away. There’s a Yiddish saying: Der Eibishter is an ehrlicher ober nit alemol a pinklicher - which roughly translates as: G-d is punctiliously honest, but not always punctual! But respond He will.
You see the Creator of the Universe is so big that He has time to care and to love each and everyone of us, giving each of us exactly what we really need, when we need it. All G-d wants is for us to take the first step. Says G-d: “Open up for me a hole as small as the point of a needle and I will create for y ou an opening as huge as the massive entrance to the Temple.”
As we approach Pesach, may each and everyone of us find an opening in our hearts to let G-d into our lives, and may He in turn send salvation and bless each and everyone of us from His infinitely broad Hand.
With best wishes for a Shabbat Shalom and Chag Kasher v’Sameach - a Kosher and Happy Pesach for you and all your families.
On behalf of the Rebbetzen and all of us at South Head
Rabbi Benzion Milecki OAM
This coming Shabbos is called Shabbos HaGadol. Wikipedia offers 7 different possible reasons for the special name, “HaGadol” (I am sure that there are many more); my favourite is the one attributed to the Tur: “The lamb was the Egyptian deity. Many Jews, after 210 years of immersion within Egyptian civilization, had also adopted this animal as their god. When God commanded that a lamb be set aside and tied to the bed for four days in anticipation of sacrifice, the Jewish people abandoned their idolatrous practice and courageously fulfilled this mitzvah in the eyes of the Egyptian people, thereby demonstrating their complete trust and faith in God. Nothing could have been more abominable to the Egyptians, for their god was to be slaughtered. Nevertheless, miraculously the Egyptians were unable to utter a word or lift a hand. They watched helplessly as their god was being prepared for slaughter. This miracle was a great miracle (nes gadol) and gives this Shabbat its name.” Read More
Pesach Live Game Show!
Join South Head Youth for Pesach Children Services. First day of Pesach Featuring a Live Game Show for older age groups and an Interactive Seder for Younger children! Lots of exciting activities and prizes throughout all of Pesach!
Wishing you a Chag Sameach,
Shimi & Elimelech
Long Distance Care
Mr. Eliezer Shefer
This continued for over two hours. Although we were young and only beginning our communal work, we felt as though the Rebbe was setting us on a lifelong path of helping the Jewish people. He tried to explain these issues to us as a father would to his son and, indeed, we each set out on our own path with the Rebbe’s advice guiding us along the way. We left the room in the wee hours of the morning exhausted and inspired. Yet the Rebbe looked as awake and alert as he did when our meeting began. Read More
Parashat Tzav & Shabbat Hagadol
This week we also celebrate Shabbat HaGadol, 'The Great Shabbat'. This is the Shabbat on which the Jewish people received their very first Mitzvah, the Mitzvah of the Karban Pesach. Shabbat HaGadol, always falls out on the Shabbat immediately preceding the festival of Pesach.
To learn about the Parasha in more detail, download our Parasha sheet!
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