• Gabbai

Pesach – It ain’t Over Till it’s Over

Pesach represents the birth of our nation. We remember, particularly at the Seder, the labor pangs of our birth, the difficult circumstances of the slavery. We also remember our emergence into the world as a nation, aided by the mighty hand of God and His outstretched arm. We recall the plagues that cracked Egypt’s resolve, later breaking them. We remember our faith growing with each demonstration of the Lord’s intervention. What a glorious day it was when we marched out of Egypt. It was in broad daylight, carrying the wealth of our taskmasters with us as we boldly faced a bright future.

The story could have ended there. The slavery was over and Israel was unified in its journey toward the Promised Land that its ancestors told of. But God had a few twists up His sleeve. Israel was later pursued by the imposing remnants of the Egyptian army. They were caught helpless and unprepared, pinned against the sea. They cried out to God – what else could they do? It was seven days after leaving Egypt, on the final night of Pesach, that the sea split and the nation passed between the walls of water, overcoming a major obstacle on their way to freedom.

I would raise a philosophical question: Was Israel actually free when they marched out of Egypt? The subsequent chase by the Egyptian army indicates otherwise. What was the purpose of this twist of events? Why could the redemption not occur in a single step? Why were the people harassed again, their confidence shaken just when they were beginning to gain some sense of their new freedom?

A parallel can be drawn to the birth of the modern state of Israel. It is not a stretch to suggest that the terrible events of the Second World War were some of the birth-pangs of the state. R’ Yosef Kahaneman, the Ponevizher Rav, draws a correlation between these two events. As we approach Israel’s 70th birthday we can look back with s