In the Haggadah recited at the Passover Seder, we say: “Even if we are all wise, all men of understanding, and all know the Torah, it is a mitzvah for us to tell of the exodus from Egypt.” Lisaper, translated as “to tell,” also means “to shine.” The Passover Seder is not meant to be merely a recollection of past events. Instead, it is a time for each of us to relive the experience to the point that we are glowing with the light of the redemption.
For this reason, the Seder is an interactive experience, beginning with a child’s asking of the Four Questions. For the intent is not merely to lecture and tell about how special the night is: the entire evening is about reliving the exodus and we can’t relive an experience unless we get involved. Therefore questions are asked and techniques are employed to attract a child’s interest.
Just as we try to motivate our children to experience redemption, Gd does the same for His children, the Jewish people as a whole. For every Jew is like Gd’s only son and on Pesach, He does what He can to enable us to relive the Exodus, to be freed from any of the influences that confine and constrict us, be they spiritual or material.
What does redemption mean? Is a person who was redeemed any different than he was a moment before his redemption? Well, physically, he’s the same, but he has a new glow to his eye, a new spring to his step. Internally, he’s brimming with new energy and he has greater spirit and vitality.
The same idea applies on a larger scale. גולה ,the Hebrew word for exile and גאולה ,the Hebrew word for redemption share the same letters, but with one difference: גאולה ,redemption, has an alef which stands for סוף אין ,Gd’s infinity. The difference between exile and redemption is not in the external dimensions of reality; they remain the same. But in a world of redemption, Gdliness is apparent. Though we will still live in a physical world, its material dimensions are not of primary importance; they will be subsumed to its spiritual content. These concepts may seem a little distant from our reality.
After all, we are used to dealing with things that we can see or feel. Gdliness and Redemption may appear above us, concepts that we believe in, but have difficulty relating to. Pesach gives us a tool to bridge this divide: Matzah, the food we eat on Pesach, is called “the bread of faith.” Implied is that partaking of it gives us the opportunity to internalize and identify with ideas that we would otherwise merely accept on faith.
Looking to the Horizon
The Passover Seder does not merely commemorate the past; it is a future-oriented event. As we say at the very beginning of the Haggadah: “This year, we are here; next year, we will be in Eretz Yisrael. This year, we are servants; next year, we will be free men.’ Although we are looking forward to the redemption of all mankind, this is not a passive experience. We don’t merely sit back and wait. Instead, every person can have an individual experience of redemption, attuning his- or herself to the mindset that will prevail in that future era. By doing so, he does not change himself alone, he influences the people and the culture around him.
The ultimate Redemption, the era of Mashiach, will be a time when the world rises above the ordinary, natural pattern of existence and lets the inner Gdliness that permeates all being become manifest. Similarly, in the personal realm, redemption means going beyond our ordinary routine and letting our inner Gdly core express itself. As more and more people experience redemption on a personal level, the microcosm will affect the macrocosm and hasten the coming of the era when this awareness will permeate all existence.
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