March/April 2020


Rabbi J. Weismandel has written: "Creation began in the Book of Genesis but it continues to this very day, and with every action we take, we are God’s partners in this continued Creation. Unlike other systems that focus on the large divide between humans and God", the Rabbi explains, “Our task is to bridge that gap. There is a transcendental Force compelling us to continue the sacred act of Creation together. There is an unknown future that humans discover along with God .The Lord is with us on this journey, not preceding us on some pre-destined path.

God has endowed us with the sacred beauty of individual power and knowledge. Our actions have influence and potential. When we pursue justice, when we strive to be audaciously hospitable, when we build bridges within our communities and with all people in the pursuit of tikkun olam (repairing the world), we create a ripple effect across the cosmos that has the potential to enrich the entire world.  God is on this journey alongside us, unsure of the choices we’ll make, but compelling us to make the right ones through Torah's guidance to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8)......"

Our transition from Purim to Pesach illustrates the Rabbinic reading of a "Sugya K'fulah" structure (the folded, interlocking pericope) .Esther remains the only Biblical book which does not mention any (unthinkable!) name of God (sacred or secular)and this anomaly is the essential key to understanding Purim.  Human agency alone (Esther & Mordecai) will affect salvation for the Jewish people. Conversely, Pesach seems to minimize the human impact upon the redemption. Moses receives not one single mention whatsoever in the entire, ritualized, Passover ceremony (Haggaddah/ Seder)! In fact, Passover's liturgical anthem and peaen (the song at the sea), declares rhapsodically " ze eli va-anvayhu....which immediately implies the reading: "ani vahu..." Simply put: the glory of the Almighty is only revealed through the partnerhip of the Creator with His/Her creation/creatures. 

The precedence of ANI (the ego) ascertains the priority of the individual. He/She must take on the duty of initiating the process of salvation. Initially, Moses instructed the nation to remain silent and still and await the salvation from the Lord. God however, required people to "take the first steps" in achieving this redemption. Since the episode at the Red Sea, the willingness to publicly exhibit acts of faith (despite the scorn heaped upon us by some) has always remained the hallmark of the people Israel. While Moses proclaimed that Israel's mandate consisted of quiet and forbearing patience and submission, the Almighty had different intentions. The mere recitation of platitudes will always be insufficient. Concrete acts of faith and sacrifice plus the taking of tangible initiatives and commitments will be necessary for the rescue/deliverance the people. Visible demonstrations of individual commitment were necessary to achieve salvation.

Midrash insists that God demanded that the Hebrew people go first- into the midst of the sea- before the Lord would work His wonders. Remaining quiet and trustful as Moses first instructed, would not be sufficient. Human partnership with God requires that we take the initial steps. Initiatives, bold and daring, are the indispensible, key elements of salvation (Ani Vahu). The illustrious Judah HaLevi insisted that we produce tangible, visible (tokens) signs to establish our fidelity to the covenant as did Tamar in speaking with Judah (Genesis 38:25). Only these external, visible signs & public displays (like the blood on the doorpost) could form, inform and authenticate our Jewish identity and allegiance. These alone are the evidence of our distinctiveness and integrity as Jews. Passover arrives each year confronting us with the question: What unambiguous evidence exists of my commitment to Torah, covenant and Judaism? What spiritual initiatives have I undertaken?

Have a Blessed, Healthful and Sweet Pesach. Moadim L'Simcha. Haggim Uzmannim L'Sasson!