By Rabbi Tuvia Bolton
A few days before Passover Joey, a non-religious ten year old Israeli child, came home after school to his non-religious home and announced that he wanted to ask a few questions.
“Of course my son” his father answered. “Let’s sit down and ask what you want.” “What type of questions do you have?” His mother asked as she gave her husband a glance of pride and humor. After all, what could be bothering a ten year old?
“Well” Joey began. “Today in school a rabbi came in and talked to us.” “Rabbi?!” his parents gasped surprise. “What type of rabbi?”
They shot angry glances at one another. Was the school allowing their Joey to be brainwashed?!
“A Rabbi from the Chabad House here. He’s young. I think you know him.” Joey answered, anxious to ask his questions. “Anyway he told us some things.”
“What things?” his mother asked worriedly.
“Well, like… is it true that the Jews were once slaves in Egypt?”
“Well, that is what it says in the Torah” Answered his father. “I guess it was true.”
“And that the Egyptians made the Jews suffer and work hard for hundreds of years?”
“Well, it could be.” His mother answered. “But that was a long time ago.”
“Yes, he said that it was a few thousand years ago. And is it true that someone called Moshe came to take them out?”
“Well, yes. That is the story.” His mother said.
“And then Israel sent bombers and jets to bomb the Egyptians until they let the Jews go?”
“What?!” his father said leaning forward in disbelief. “Bombers?! Jets? What type of nonsense is that!? Is that what he told you?!?”
“Well, not exactly.” Jody replied. “But if I told you what he said about plagues and stuff……you’d never believe it!!”
The story of leaving Egypt is truly fantastic; almost impossible to believe. Yet we are expected, indeed, commanded, to not only believe it but re-live it every Passover (Mishna Pesachim 10:5). And according to the Chassidic teachings, to do so each and every day (Tanya chap. 47)
It is the first of the Ten Commandments (I am G-d that took you from Egypt) and the basis of not just Judaism but of all mankind; namely that G-d is not just in heaven but rather that He is intimately involved in every detail of and has a precise plan for… every one of us humans.
This G-d proved to us and the entire world when He ‘personally’ took us from Egypt,
But the Torah tells us that back then all the miracles didn’t help much; even those Jews that saw the miracles and actually left Egypt worshiped the Golden Calf just a few months later! As the saying goes, “G-d could take the Jews from Egypt but He can’t take the Egypt out of the Jews. The Jews must take the Egypt out of themselves.”
So the above joke applies to each of us. The miracles must not be just Bible stories for religious people or something we believe will happen tomorrow. Rather we must leave our selfish thoughts and try to feel that this very moment G-d is creating us for a purpose; to do, say and think everything possible to be a positive influence to perfect the world…. to bring Moshiach.
As the Lubavitcher Rebbe said many times; “We should live NOW in the days of Moshiach.” Namely, to feel G-d and trust in G-d to the point that we never feel jealousy, hatred, competition, negativity, lust, or fear. But rather to look at ourselves as G-d does; with positive optimism and joy that we are who and what we are.
This is truly leaving our limitations.
An easy way to begin is by looking at a picture of a great Tzadik, one who was totally devoted to the Creator especially the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Try and see.
Another is to read and study his ideas. Here’s an example.
A few years ago I returned from a one month stay in Minnesota where my wife made a, thank G-d, successful, eleven hour operation that saved her life and brought her back to health. Thank G-d!!
While I was there I met many very friendly people most of whom were very religious to the point of being missionaries.
To all of them, as soon as they began ‘saving’ me, I said the same thing. “Tell me, do you really know what the Jews believe? Would you like to know?”
Being nice people (I was told that there is an American saying; “Minnesota Nice”) they all said ‘yes’ whereupon I explained to them that we believe that G-d creates everything every instant brand new. And He creates it all from love… free love.
Which means that G-d is creating me and you (sometimes I asked them their name which I substituted for ‘you’), cares and provides for us and will answer all our prayers. So we Jews believe that no one needs to pray to ‘spirits’ ‘sons’ or ‘ghosts’ because G-d is infinitely close to us. This usually made them agree and shake hands goodbye.
But one young man heard my conversation and asked a very good question. (It was on the Shuttle to the airport back to Israel. Sitting next to me was a 92 year old man who told me (in Yiddish) he was Jewish and had never done a commandment except maybe Tefillin at his Bar Mitzva. So I took out my Tefillin and put them on him. He was happy and that fired up the curiosity of the other passengers.)
The young man’s question was. “If we Jews believe that G-d is infinite so we must believe that any sin against Him makes an infinite blemish. So how can we get forgiven? Therefore G-d gave his son, etc.”
I told him that his question was excellent. And I totally agree with it. G-d is infinite and He is infinitely strict. But on the other hand… He is also infinitely kind and loving. Which do you think is greater?
He couldn’t answer.
I continued that the message of the Jews to the world is that G-d’s love and kindness is greater and I told him I could prove it to him.
“Just look at all of G-d’s creations. Trillions of trillions of bugs, fish, birds, animals, people etc. each with a very exact circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous etc. system that can fatally destruct if broken. So we see that G-d is infinitely strict.
But on the other hand… G-d is CREATING all of them! Their very existence shows that G-d’s kindness is greater than His severity.
The problem is we don’t see this love if we think of ourselves or of heaven or hell; then we only see His harsh side. But if we think of G-d we’ll see how much we mean to Him and our lives will have more meaning and happiness.
He shook my hand and thanked me.
This is how we can leave ‘Egypt’; all our egotistical limitations, this Last day of Passover!
It is the day that G-d split the sea and revealed all the mysteries of the
heavens together with ‘Himself” the Creator of all mysteries to the Jewish people. And just as Moses did it back then so it will be permanently and to all mankind.
It just depends on us to do even one more good deed, word or even thought to bring… Moshiach now!
Rabbi Tuvia Bolton
Yeshiva Ohr Tmimim
Kfar Chabad, Israel