Torah Thoughts

Miracles play an important part in Judaism.  We always thank God for them. Possibly the greatest miracle to affect us was our redemption from Egypt, and because of this we have Pesach. Yet when we sit round the Seder table, do we really understand the enormity of the miracles experienced by our forefathers?   They were a relatively small group of slaves who had for centuries been under the total control of Egypt, the strongest and largest superpower of that time. Yet with the hand of God, they were able to break off the chains of servitude and gain their freedom.  They did not only overcome the obstacles of slavery, but according to tradition many Israelites were so immersed in Egyptian and idolatrous culture that they almost reached the point where they were incapable of being redeemed.  They therefore had to show that they were worthy of being freed, by taking a symbol of an Egyptian deity, a lamb or kid, and slaughter it in front of their Egyptian taskmasters. This would show that they were no longer afraid of the Egyptians, and more importantly, they could cut themselves off from their previous idolatrous practices.    

Pesach though is not only about celebrating a past great miracle, it is also about praying for our future redemption, which is symbolised with the Cup of Elijah. Our sages teach us, just as we were redeemed in Nisan, so too, Please God, we will be redeemed in Nisan. 

In praying for future miracles, we should learn the example set by our forefathers, that we should not just rely on or expect miracles to happen. We should be worthy of them. The Israelites proved their worthiness by celebrating the Seder even before they left Egypt.  A key test is to remove all Chametz – leaven before Pesach, to properly celebrate the Festival of our Freedom.  Just as the Torah commands us that we should not see or have any Chametz in our possession over Pesach, we should also remove all mental manifestations of Chametz, such as arrogance and feelings of self-importance. All these feelings impede our real freedom and redemption.