Looking Forward!

Friday, 26 April, 2024 - 9:32 am

It’s easy to bemoan the state of the Jewish people. If we choose to look at the glass as half-empty, there is plenty to consider.  From rampant intermarriage and assimilation on the spiritual front to horrific terrorism in Israel and the alarming protests on campuses across America.

At this time of year, many of us reflect upon these realities and remark, with a sigh, “G-d saved us from Egypt and He will save us from these threats as well.”  Pesach is a time that reminds us of the miraculous resilience of the Jewish people.  The Egyptians, Greeks and Babylonians are no longer here, but we Jews continue to survive.

It’s reassuring to view the past as a beacon of hope for the future. In short: we never had it easy, but at the last minute G-d intervened and we survived. And that’s how we expect the next chapter of Jewish history to unfold.

Frankly, I beg to differ.


For us Diaspora Jews Pesach is an eight-day-long festival.  It begins with two days of Yom Tov (work-proscribed) and ends with two days of Yom Tov. The intermediate days, known as Chol HaMoed, have minor restrictions. On all 8 days we may not consume or own chametz.

Have you ever wondered why Passover is so long? After all, we left Egypt on the 15th of Nissan – in one day. Why celebrate for a whole week? And why are the last days an upgraded festival?

The Exodus from Egypt was not complete until the Splitting of the Sea.  When Pharaoh’s army drowned at sea, the Jews knew their liberty was truly secure. Hence, we celebrate the last days of Pesach, commemorating the second miracle of the Exodus.


The Mystics, however, offer an entirely deeper perspective on the last days of Passover: The first days commemorate our past; the deliverance from Egyptian bondage to freedom.  The last days celebrate our future; the coming of Moshiach.

In fact, the Torah readings and prayers of the last days reflect this theme.  We are no longer focused on the past. We have our eyes fixed firmly on the future.

When the Jews emerged from the sea, they were no longer simply escaping from Egypt. Now, they were heading toward Sinai to receive the Torah. In the beginning of Passover they were running from the past. At the end of Passover they were embracing the future.


What is the future?  The Torah promises that the destiny of the Jews is not simply to keep surviving. Rather, it is to help usher an era of physical and spiritual perfection. The arrival of Moshiach will initiate a period of true universal peace and prosperity – for both body and soul.  We do believe in a perfect world. This is the end-goal of creation.

On the last days of Pesach we no longer look at the glass as half-empty. We look at it as almost full. We recognize that – over the long arc of history – we have achieved so much. The world has advanced in so many ways.  We are indeed nearing an age of perfection. Each mitzvah adds to the collective task of perfecting the world.

We are confident and passionate about this imminent change for good. And that’s why we celebrate.  We are certain that our accomplishments throughout the passage of time have accumulated to change the world. And, that this change will be revealed with the dawn of a new era of redemption.

It may be pitch dark in some respects. But, the darkest part of the night is the moment before dawn.

May we celebrate it together in a revealed way.

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