Passover: The Story of Faith in the Most Challenging of Times
By Rabbi Yehuda Heber
Passover is celebrated by Jews every year, commemorating the anniversary of the Jewish nation’s miraculous exodus from Egyptian slavery, as told in the Bible.
This year, Passover is celebrated from Mar. 27 through Apr. 4. A Seder (a ritual and 15-step meal) is traditionally conducted on the first two nights of the holiday. This year that coincides with Saturday night, Mar. 27 and Sunday night, Mar. 28.
The Passover story is an inspiring one. It is the story of a nation brought from slavery to freedom, from darkness to light. It is the story of human beings in the most unfortunate circumstances, experiencing good fortune at last. It is the story of going from utter despair to sheer joy.
The Jews experienced harsh slavery in ancient Egypt for many years. How did they manage? What kept them going when the conditions were so brutal that their babies were being slaughtered to provide a literal bloodbath for the king to whom they were enslaved?
Their secret tool was their faith. They believed that one day the tide would turn and the slavery would end. They believed that God would hear their prayers and redeem them. They went to sleep with this faith at night, and woke up with it in the morning. With this hope in their hearts, they weathered the storms and survived to tell the tale.
The Jewish women even went so far as to prepare tambourines and dances which they planned to use as a way of celebrating their freedom after their emancipation. So sure, were they, that the redemption was on its way! God rewarded their faith in kind and indeed redeemed them.
Our sages tell us that “In the merit of the righteous women were our ancestors redeemed from Egypt.” They served as a beacon of hope and optimism for the rest of the weary nation.
What exactly is faith? What does it feel like?
Faith is a feeling of calm that comes from the knowledge that God is running the world and that He knows what He is doing, so to speak. It is the understanding that while to our perception it seems as if all is wrong, there is a master plan greater than what we perceive and that everything that occurs happens for a reason. It is also the feeling of hope that things will turn out well and that we will experience comfort and happiness again, despite current challenges.
It is difficult to believe that a full year has passed since Passover 2020, when the pandemic was at its height worldwide. The uncertainty and fear we all experienced are unforgettable. Let us draw strength from the Passover story and live with faith, too. This faith helps us let go of the need to control our circumstances and the outcomes of the situations we encounter.
Our job is to act responsibly and put forth our due effort. When things turn out differently than the way we plan them, we can find comfort in the knowledge that although we are not in control, someone far greater than us is. Our faith also encourages us to look to the future optimistically, to a time when we too will witness the tide turning for the good and experience our former freedoms once again.
For more detailed information on the history and customs of Passover, visit www.ChabadYorktown.com/Passover. You can also print a Hagaddah and find recipes and tips for preparing and conducting the Seder.
Happy Passover to you and yours!
Yehuda Heber is the rabbi at Chabad of Yorktown.
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