Friday, April 10, 2020 /16 Nisan, 5780
Parashat Chol HaMo-eid Pesah Exodus 33:12-34:26
In every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he left Egypt,” our Passover Haggadah reminds us. For the past two nights, we have relived the slavery and oppression of our people. We have celebrated the strength, resilience and hope which enabled our people to march to freedom. At long last we are free.
The story of the Exodus does not end on Passover. Rather, the story is just beginning as we leave the narrowness of Egypt for the expanse of the vast desert. Although void of definition, the wilderness is filled with possibilities and rebirth. It is also filled with uncertainty and fear. As we walk through the desert, we are unsure of what life will bring. We may be free in body, but, as the Slonimer Rebbe teaches, the spiritual Egypt and all its aspects that enslave us continue to persist in our souls. Over the course of these seven weeks, we are tasked with spiritually freeing ourselves from fifty aspects of enslavement. Each week, we focus on a particular facet of our personalities—Kindness, Discipline, Compassion, Endurance, Humility, Foundation, and Sovereignty. Each day we will focus on the qualities of that attribute, and how it reflects itself in our lives. By the time we reach Shavuot on Thursday, May 28th, we will be ready for the revelation of Torah.
Just as the Israelites needed something to guide them as the marched in the wilderness, Jewish tradition offers us this custom to center us as we journey through the uncertainty of our times. Each morning at 8:30 am, I will be counting the omer, and offering a short meditation to consider throughout the course of the day. You are welcome to join me at https://www.facebook.com/tbesanpedro. Even if you do not have a Facebook account, you will be able to see what was posted. The wonderful thing about Facebook is that you can access these short 5-10 minute videos any time of day that you choose.
This week, we begin with the attribute of love. Psalms 89:3 teaches us, “The world is built with chesed (love),” so we begin our journey to freedom with an examination of the ways in which we show love each day, and the opportunities we have to expand that love. The Torah teaches, “You shall love the stranger in your heart, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” May the counting of the omer inspire us to offer love and compassion wherever possible—not just today, but every day.
Rabbi Cassi Kail