Jewish Faith

Jewish Faith is epitomized in the theme of Pesach, recognising the good in the apparent bad. This is based on the knowledge that Hashem (God) runs the world and He is all good.

Whilst in the universal picture there were not meant to be negative experiences in the world, since the sin of Adam, the world runs on a balance of reward and consequence. The latter being a fix for sin and required for the existence of the universe.

Thus the word for punishment in Torah, onesh, refers to compensation or pay-back (Sefer HaShroshim LeRadack; Rashi Shmos 21:22.)

Jewish Faith and Pesach

There are 3 levels of discernment of this concept. The highest level is that of Nahum Ish Gamzu (Taanis 21a,) who famously stated: gam zu letovah – also this is for the good, actually seeing the good in everything.

Next was Rebbi Akiva (Brachos 60b,) who was noted as saying: kol deavid Rachmana letav avid – whatever Hashem (God) does He does for the good. This even if we don’t see it, we know it.

A third level, heard from a survivor of the concentration camps was: Hashem knows what He is doing. Even if we don’t see the good and we don’t know how it is for the good.

The cause (onesh) of the exodus of Bnei Yisrael (the Jewish People) in Egypt (according to Shmuel – Nedarim 32a) was Avraham saying: bameh eida ki irashenah – by what will I know that I will inherit it (the land.)(Braishis 15:8)

How does the exodus relate to Avraham’s words?

The words showed at Avraham’s level, a presumptiveness or lacking in trust of Hashem (see Rashi and Ran in Nedarim.) When we understand that the Avos are the generators of the generations and everything that they were spiritually is carried down in the genes of the offspring, we understand why this is so serious.

The exodus was a tikun for this, both in humbling the Jewish people through the servitude and in the turbo charged injection of trust in Hashem generated by hitting the spiritual bottom followed by the greatest redemption amongst miracles and wonders (see God in Judaism.)

Thus Pesach is all about reliving the low of the slavery and the high of the redemption, both of which were essential ingredients in the creation of the Jewish People.

This theme is pervasive throughout the practices of Pesach. Chometz is the paradigm of negativity yet it is used for good in the positive mitzvah of tashbisu (destroying.)

Matzah is the bread of poverty and the bread that couldn’t rise due to the speed of the exodus. Lachma anya (bread of poverty) can also be translated as bread of answering (Hashem answered our cries.)

Even the maror which represents the bitterness of slavery is sweetened by the charoses and is part of the Pesach offering (al merorim yochluhu – you will eat it on bitter herbs, Shmos 12:8)

Egypt, as capital of witchcraft, black magic etc represented darkness; the redemption was in spring, symbolising the return to light (through the Jewish people.)

Thus the exodus and all that preceded it, can be recognized as the ultimate good and stands as the model for Jewish faith throughout history.


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