Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Shabbat Pesach- Reliving the Experience

Vayikra Moshe l'khol-ziknei Yisrael vayomer aleihem mi'sh'khu uk'chu lakhem tzon l'mish'p'choteikhem v'shachatu hapasach.
And Moshe called to all the elders and said to them, "Draw out and take for you a lamb for your families, and kill the Pesach [offering]. (Shemot 12:21)
Thus begins our reading for this first day of Pesach. Immediately preceding this reading is the commandment to observe the holiday of Pesach.
          And this day will be for you a memorial, and you will celebrate it as a feast to Adonai throughout your generations; you will celebrate it as an eternal ordinance.... In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening you will eat matzot until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening. Seven days there will be no leaven found in your houses....
Why is it that the parasha we read on the first day of Pesach is not the text that declares the day to us, but instead the story of the first Pesach? What is significant to us on this day is not that we observe Pesach each year, nor what God did for our ancestors. Rather, it is what God did for ME on that day. This is the command we observe at the Seder, to tell our children what God, the Eternal did for ME when God took ME out from slavery in Egypt. Had God not redeemed our ancestors, we might be slaves even today. Therefore, we read this as a reenactment of that first Pesach night, appreciating that which God did for each of us, protecting us on that night, and leading us from slavery in the morning. "It was a night of watching for Adonai, for bringing them out of the land of Egypt; this same night is a night of watching for Adonai for all the children of Israel throughout the generations."
Every other holiday our rituals act as remembrances or memorials to events, but on Pesach we relive the foundational event of the Jewish people and of each of our lives.
Hag sameach v'Shabbat shalom.

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