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It’s hard not to think about Moses when we think of Passover. Even if we want to forget, advertisements for Cecil B. Demille’s great production, The Ten Commandments, frequent our TV screens as constant reminders this time of year. And yet, as we sat down for our seders and read through the Haggadah which recounts the great miracles that G-d performed for us, we realize that there is one name that is conspicuously missing, the name of Moses. He is mentioned only once in the entire book. Why? It is meant to teach us something very important: rescue comes only from G-d Himself. All else, i.e., humans, money, vaccines and even Moses, are mere intermediaries serving His will, no matter what role they play in our lives. There is one G-d and thus we must stop deifying everything and everyone else: “The L‑rd took us out of Egypt," not through an angel, not through a seraph and not through a messenger. The Holy One, blessed be He, did it in His glory by Himself!”
You see Passover, which is just around the corner, is not only about cutting bread from the menu or getting rid of the last possible crumbs from our fridge. It is also a divinely sanctified time for us to take an introspective look at ourselves, to clean up our spiritual crumbs, to flatten our egos and to acknowledge the role that G-d plays in our lives. G-d did not just create the world and walk away. He’s a personal G-d; One that went down into Egypt Himself to deliver us from slavery. What are you doing with your freedom? Do you prove yourself worthy?
We can think of our relationship to G-d like a computer link. If you click on a link and it does not open, then all the advertising that leads to that link, and all the beautiful pictures that lead to that link, and all the hoopla that leads to that link, well they're basically meaningless and useless. When our lives are just surface but they don't link to the greater good, when they don't link to the content-- G-d and His Torah-- then all we are is surface, 2D creations that take up time and space. To live a life in all the dimensions, 3D, we must link to the Source, to the spirit that animates us. Passover is a perfect time to relink the surface of our life with the purpose of our life by reconnecting directly with He who created the entire program.
When we link to the Source, i.e. G-d, then nothing that happens in our lives can defeat us or keep us down. The first principle of the 13 Principles of Faith (the fundamental truths of Judaism and its very foundations) affirms that G-d is the creator and conductor of all that was, is and will be. One has only to repeat this to oneself as a mantra in times of hardship (and joy) to understand that nothing happens unless G-d wants it to, unless He signs off on it. Once we accept that and internalize it, we realize that we are not alone. He is with us always.
Many of us may feel down and defeated these days. The world is a mess. Many people’s lives have been upended because of Covid, economics, the war in Ukraine or other. Whatever our personal reason, so many feel broken and despaired. But in this week’s parasha, Shemini, we learn a very important lesson. On the eighth day, following the seven days of inauguration, Aaron and his sons begin to officiate as kohanim (priests) in the Tabernacle. But what happened for the seven days before? On those days Moses erected the tabernacle and then disassembled it everyday. Isn’t that weird? Once it’s up logic would suggest to just leave it up. But that seven-day process of building and disassembling and rebuilding was to teach us something very important. In our own lives, sometimes everything we build, indeed with all our heart and might falls apart either piece by piece or in one big blast. Sometimes we just have to take it apart ourselves. But from Moses we learn we must be rebuild, we can rebuild, it is in us to rebuild, G-d wants us to rebuild. But we pause and question: What are we building?
Our problem is that we are always trying to rebuild what we used to be, our honor, our physical form or appearance, our wealth, etc. But if G-d saw it fit to pulverize us, it is certain we were in need of rebuilding and restructuring. G-d knows you can do better, be better and rebuild on holy ground. Hardships are not meant to break us but rather to make us. We must not spend out days crying and bemoaning the past for G-d rests His spirit where there is joy. Even prophets could receive no prophecy while mourning or when sad. We must rebuild with joy and integrity, that is in our hands; the results are in G-d’s.
They say a righteous person falls seven times and gets up eight times. What makes him righteous is that he gets up! So we too must stop kvetching, reign in our mourning, get up, walk, run and soar for He above is indeed the wind beneath our wings. The link is not broken, we have just to reconnect to the Source and keep going. Shabbat Shalom