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November 1, 2014 / 8 Heshvan, 5775
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Pesach: A Time For Personal Redemption

When we lift the cup celebrating our freedom, know that whatever attempts were made, are being made, to destroy us, we have survived. That is the best testimony.

3) Vega’alti etchem bizroah netuyah - I will redeem you with an outstretched arm. This is an expression of redemption. We have now removed the burden, established our roots. With the sturdiness of the trunk we have firmly established ourselves in free choice, after which the branches can produce fruit.

Geulai Hashem, refers to those redeemed by God. Not just free and liberated but free and liberated by Hashem.

So, this third idea, a toast to freedom, is not just as an avoidance of the negative but a commitment.

There is a dispute within Jewish philosophy in regards to what matzah symbolizes. Marror, the bitter herbs, clearly represents the bitterness of slavery. Matzah is the food we ate in Egypt, the bread of the poor man, of slaves. We left in a hurry, not having had time for a planned liberation. The dough was still raw when we fled. Matzah then symbolizes the speed of becoming free. So, which is it? Is it a symbol of servitude or of freedom? The answer is both. Yes, we ate it in Egypt, but on the night of Seder, we hold in one hand the bitter herbs of oppression and the bread of affliction, and in the other, the wine of redemption. There is no contradiction because man must realize that freedom doesn’t come from anything he can plan for without God’s help. If Bnei Yisroel had depended solely on themselves for their liberation, and not God, we’d still be slaves– matzah and marror. But if liberation is understood to be through the Source from whence freedom comes, then raise a cup to that Source, dedicate yourself to freedom.

4) Velakachti etchem li le’am - And I will take you to Myself as a people. The servitude was a necessary pre-requisite. Suffering together gave us a sense of unity. Things we do in our life are vehicles to something else. Deficiencies are necessary to acquire traits that we can put into use later. We are more complete after this building up, reinforced. We then can bring every part of our lives towards that purpose.

We start with the disgrace of slavery, the indolence, the lack of initiative. After the dross is removed the soul can lift up. The impact of the slavery though, can be turned into a badge of honor, of glory.

Hashem doesn’t force intellectual or spiritual growth on us. He invites us to move up step by step. So, once liberated we can freely enslave ourselves. Free to be in charge of ourselves, and to choose to accept G-d’s rule.

We are not free until we are clear as to what our purpose on this earth is. Without that knowledge we live in doubt and confusion as to life’s meaning and our unique contribution.

This fourth aspect, then, is clarity of one’s purpose. The Jewish people, as we know, have a unique role in Creation– a uniqueness of calling. We must realize that humanity can emerge freely only to the degree that we merge with that source of freedom. As long as we do not believe our relationship with G-d to be secure we live unfree. If we are not spiritually oriented, and believe a crisis that befalls us to be random, then we are unable to discern rhyme or reason for the deep pain we feel. We might think, yes, He might have chosen me, but now He is rejecting me. And doubt sets in.

So, it becomes clear that the first three leshonos focus on our going out, our leaving while the fourth gives the purpose for leaving. Within the first three Hashem ended slavery, had us leave the impurity. The final one tells where we are going, the reason for leaving.

The first three refer to the past, the fourth talks about the future: to receive the Torah, to come to Eretz Yisroel.

We are not allowed to drink between the third and fourth cup. We go straight from the servitude to renew ourselves, the chadash of Hashem. There must be continuity between leaving evil and what we are going towards.

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2 Responses to “Pesach: A Time For Personal Redemption”

  1. Matthew Lai says:

    I'm in the midst of a personal Pesach, and I'm not even Jewish!

  2. Great! Am so pleased that Judaic teachings go beyond the Jewish people but can be universal. Thanks.

Comments are closed.

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We recognize that the Exodus story in the Torah, like all biblical narratives, is more than just a historical or political tale of physical bondage and ensuing liberation, it is also a spiritual and psychological drama. The exodus represents the human potential to liberate itself from slavery — be it physical, mental, or spiritual.

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