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One Second, It's Still Passover?

Friday, 2 April, 2021 - 3:25 pm

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Everyone knows about the Passover Seder. In fact, it’s one of the most observed Jewish practices, both inside and outside Israel. We know what it’s all about, we’re commemorating the Exodus and along with it come all the familiar (and some unfamiliar) traditions.

 

But what is the purpose of the end of Passover? The first days are observed as work-restricted holidays as are the last; why not just end the holiday after the Seder?

 

The simple answer is because the event which Passover commemorates, namely the Exodus, wasn’t over until a full week later. Only after the miraculous splitting of the sea, when what was left of the mighty Egyptian army drowned in the Reed Sea, were the Jewish people truly freed from Egyptian persecution.

 

As you know, there is always more to the story. We get an inkling from the Haftorah (reading from the Prophets) of the last day of Passover. We read about the era of Moshiach, the promise of a future redemption.

 

The first days of Passover commemorate the Exodus, the last days of Passover look toward the Messianic redemption in the future. There are a number of differences between the two but let’s focus on one for now.

 

By all accounts, the Exodus from Egypt was G-d’s doing - in fact, the Jewish people were on an extremely low spiritual level. Their spiritual level was in many ways so similar to their Egyptian captors that the Midrash quotes the angels as having argued against their redemption, claiming that they didn’t deserve it.

 

The future Messianic redemption however, is dependent on our doing; it is based on our behavior and our choices. In fact, while we eagerly work toward and await the global redemption, we can incorporate a redemption mindset in our own life - even before the rest of the world is up to speed.

 

The Exodus from Egypt didn’t change the entire world, its effect was not permanent. While we were never exiled back to Egypt, over the years we have still been subjected to various forms of exile and slavery.

 

On an individual basis - we cannot be completely free when our freedom is provided by someone else - even by G-d. Ultimate and lasting freedom is internally achieved. It is only when redemption is made personal; personally developed and deeply internalized, that it has the ability to achieve permanent - and global - change.

 

For this reason - among others - we gather on the last day of Passover, in the last few hours of the holiday, and celebrate with the “Meal of Moshiach”. We don’t wait until redemption “happens” to us, we begin to incorporate the redemption mindset in our daily lives.

 

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