Nisan 22 5778, בלוג אחרון של פֶּסַח, כ”ב ניסן תשע”ח
Pesach, one of God’s Appointed Times (Moedim) is actually two holidays in one; the first on the 15th of Nisan when we eat the Paschal lamb and Chag Matzah, where we do not eat any leaven for seven days, although our sages added this extra 8th day. Man’s traditions can be either positive when they bring us closer to the Creator or negative when tradition is followed for its own sake. Why seven days of matzah? God wouldn’t allow the Israelites to leave Egypt with a pompous attitude, for they had done absolutely nothing to deserve their liberation. This would be a true redemption of His people!
That first night was never meant to be repeated but remains as a memorial for the people of Israel’s deliverance from slavery, not only physically but also spiritually. A most significant sign at Pesach was the killing of the lamb. What was He trying to communicate and how did we respond to Him? The animal represented the gods of Egypt and our Creator was demonstrating that they held no power. The people had to respond to Him by smearing blood on the doorposts as an act of obedience. It had nothing to do with forgiveness of sins. Israel never asked God to forgive their sins before they were taken out of bondage. It was a sacrifice of thanksgiving, Zebach Shelamim Todah.
The Borei Olam is always ready to speak to us. Were we created simply for His own amusement or because He needed someone to worship Him? If that were the case, He could have kept only the angels who did not have the gift that He gave us – bechirat chofshit – free will. This means that we have the capacity to do whatever we want. This forces us to make decisions. We prefer however that others do that for us. Today we see so many nations with terrible dictators who oppress their people in every imaginable way, yet they are loved! This is true in the religious arenas where we deposit our souls at the door giving the control over to them. This is in direct opposition to the message of Pesach.
We can be our own worst enemies or task-masters and our religious leaders take advantage of this whether we realize or not. They say that the Scriptures are impossible to interpret on our own but what they are really saying is that the Creator does not want us to understand Him. That is simply untrue. The first step toward getting out of this type of slavery is to read the Scriptures for what they say instead of what others tell us that they say. The Creator chose a simple people to carry His message to all humanity. Our prophets tell us that He would put the Torah into our hearts and we would be able to understand it. This is Divine Revelation. We have each been made in His image, having received His Divine breathe in us, His Spark. The question is…What do we do with this light? We have become accustomed to blame others for what happens to us, always looking for excuses. That is why the most popular religions teach that someone else will pay for our sins. We are not responsible. Torah teaches us the opposite, that we are responsible for our own actions. This is Biblical Judaism as opposed to other forms of Judaism.
The people of Israel didn’t leave Egypt joyfully as the movies depict; they constantly complained and wanted to return. It is frightening to have to make your own decisions because there is no one to blame for the consequences. Despite the many religious groups, there is only one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who revealed Himself to Israel who were to be light to the world. The Creator took Israel out of slavery, brought them to base of Mount Sinai where He would hand them the greatest revelation of all time, the Ten Commandments. The people there, both Israelite and non-Israelite, shook in fear as His voice could be heard through thunder and lightning. It was an epic demonstration of His Presence. He chose one man, Moses to receive His Words written on stone tablets by the Finger of God. Moses did not write them as many prefer to believe. Like Moses, man can only be the instrument of the Creator; he does not replace Him. One religion is no better than any other; what is important is what the Creator wants from us. He brought us out of slavery into an intimate relationship with Him. The Torah, the basic Ten Commandments are our guide on how to achieve this for ourselves. If we follow them, our civilization would be so much better. Yeshua was asked how he could sum up the Torah and he replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul and resources, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
The first of the Ten Commandments did not boast about how great He is and what He did for humanity rather that He was the God who brought us out of slavery. In this He shows us that He acted in our lives in time and space. That first generation saw Him in cloud and fire, participating in their lives in a miraculous way. We don’t have that today, but we do know what He accomplished. We need to return to basics today. He wants a relationship with us and we can either accept Him or reject Him. The gods of this world force us to worship them or be punished. Our God wants us to be responsible and gives us freedom of choice. If we cannot love and be responsible toward our own person, how can we love or take care of others? Love – in Hebrew, ahava- is not puppy love; ahava means to be loyal, faithful. It is not about how we feel that decides what we do. He is the God of reality, of responsibility.
What is Pesach? It is about the understanding that the Creator is compassionate and wants the best for us; He wants to give us freedom to be ourselves, to be responsible for our decisions and actions and not to blame anyone else. It is my prayer that we will distance ourselves from the hocus-pocus of religion and apply the principles of His Word. The Creator wants us to have a relationship with Him. Are we a slave to religion which takes away our capacity to think for ourselves? Do we believe man or the Creator?