July 11, 2024
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July 11, 2024
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We know that life presents itself on two levels.  There is our regular, everyday level—the level we see, the level of things as they seem to be. But as Jews we also know we live life on a deeper level.  We live life in the unseen.  So many of the things we do have deeper meanings, and if we can just get to those deeper meanings, we can have a more fulfilling life.

I know from experience (and I’m sure many can relate), that before I went to Israel, as a regular Orthodox day school Jew I had no idea why I did most of the things that I did ritually.  I had no idea why I make Kiddush on Friday night; I had no concept of why I wear tefillin. But when I was in Israel I realized that, as Jews, we live life on two different planes of existence.  We live life existentially, and we live life spiritually.  What’s more important is the spiritual level, but it’s hard to experience that level when we feel so tired all the time.  There’s so much to do; so much responsibility; so much work.  It makes it hard to see what’s really significant—especially when it comes to Pesach.

At its deepest levels, Pesach is the time of year when Hashem will literally help us change our lives in ways we could never imagine. There’s a Midrash that clarifies this idea. In Parshas Vayera, when the angels visited Avraham Avinu it was Pesach time and (of course) he was baking matzohs.

In yeshiva we are taught that Avraham (and the rest of our forefathers) kept the mitzvos even before the Torah was given.  Since it was about the time when we would eventually celebrate Pesach and eat matzoh, amazingly the prescient Avraham was already eating matzoh.  Doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it? Matzoh commemorated the fact that the Jews left Egypt quickly.  But in Avraham’s time the Jews hadn’t left Egypt yet.  The concept of a Jew did not even exist.  Why would Avraham commemorate something that would happen years later?

Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz has a great answer to this question.  According to Rabbi Tatz, the months and days of the year have a special holiness in and of themselves.  To a certain extent, our holidays are the vehicles Hashem has given us to be able to tap into that special holiness.

For example, inherent to September is the feeling of renewal.  That is why we have holidays that celebrate this idea.  The time around Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is known as eys ratzon—when Hashem is especially close to us–not because we have holidays around that time.  It is just the opposite!  We have holidays like Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur around that time BECAUSE it is an eys ratzon.

The same is true here.  Avraham was not celebrating the Pesach of the Jews being redeemed from Egypt.  Actually, inherent to this time of the year is a concept of freedom, the concept of Hashem’s redeeming us from the things that hold us back in life. Therefore, Avraham was not celebrating what would come later, but was celebrating the energies inherent to this time; he was celebrating his own freedom and redemption.

This concept applies to us now.  This year, even though we gather our families together to read the Hagaddah, we are not merely celebrating something that happened thousands of years ago. We are not commemorating an event that we can’t even relate to anymore (I’m just being honest).  We are celebrating what is happening to us now—our freedom—today, right now.

And so, this is a magical time of year.  Pesach is a time when Hashem literally passed the Jews over from the depths of their existence and redeemed them from bondage to enjoy a higher spirituality. That makes this Pesach, in 2013, such a tremendous opportunity.  This is a time when God gives us all a chance for personal redemption.  But we have to seize it.

Think about an area of your life in which you are seeking redemption.  From what do you want to be freed?  What is holding you back from accomplishing your goals?  Do you always get close, only to sabotage yourself?  Or perhaps you don’t even know where you are headed—do you need a real plan that will help you get there?

This is the time of year where the energies are there to pass over whatever level you are currently on and go to the next level—literally.  Use this energy to break through whatever barriers are holding you back.  Your freedom is available to you now, if only you seize it. If you do this, then you can make 2013 unlike any year you’ve had before, and you can ensure that you live a life you truly deserve.

By Alec Borenstein

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