The Untold Story of Passover

nachshon-joyish.gifNo one ever taught me the “behind the scenes” story of Passover at my Sunday school. The main theme of the Pesach tale was always freedom from slavery—as in, escaping from Pharaoh. But as explained in last week’s post, “Passover Made Personal,” relating to Pesach as a mere history lesson wastes our present day opportunity.

The energy of freedom used by our ancestors to escape slavery remains alive and available to us every year during Pesach. Leveraged properly, we can each escape our own Mitzrayims (Egypts)—aka: our own limiting beliefs and behaviors.

But perfunctory participation won’t render results. Earning the energy of freedom requires emunah, faith. Faith that once the Seder ends, we have all the strength and resources we need to realize our new selves. We learn this Passover lesson from the often-untold story of a fella named Nachshon.

See, thanks to Cecil B. DeMille, most of us imagine Moses raising his staff before the sea, and the water splitting obediently. But, that’s Hollywood magic. In truth, the hero of that part of our history was Nachshon.

The actual scene: The Israelites stood dead ended and terrified on the bank of the sea with the Egyptians hot on their tails. Doubts overwhelmed them. Maybe they couldn’t break free after all! But one among them, Nachshon had no doubts. He had emunah (faith) despite the circumstances, such emunah that he began walking straight into the water.

The water reached his knees, the others looked on. The waves lapped at his navel, he determinedly moved forward. Salt water got into his mouth, nevertheless he persisted. Only when the water passed his nostrils did the water part, allowing the Israelites to hurry through the sea and seal their free future. Nachshon’s faith in Hashem split the sea.

Once we say “Next Year in Jerusalem” at the conclusion of our Seder tonight, we too will be free. But whether or not slavery captures us again depends on our emunah. So, hold your nose and move it, friends! May we each become the hero of our own exodus story and walk forward into our lives with total emunah, forcing our seas to part, enabling miracles and forever securing our freedom. Chag Pesach Sameach!

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When Hashem’s Timeline Doesn’t Match Yours

“How wonderous are your deeds, Hashem.
All of them are done with wisdom.
The heavens tell of your glory.
And the earth is filled with your kindness.” -Tehillim
Art by Yochana Chavah Sandler

There are certain lessons that are particularly difficult to learn. One of the hardest ones for me is acceptance when Hashem’s timeline is different (sometimes dramatically different) than my own.

Example: I wanted my chosen career set by this age, the love of my life by that age, and my summer home in Israel by another age…and these important deadlines have passed.

Admittedly, I’m a big dreamer. Always have been. But never a magical thinker—I’ve also always been a fiercely hard worker (Thanks, Dad!), throwing myself toward my goals wholeheartedly. So, when that hard work doesn’t pay off in the way that I want, or in a way I can see at all, uncertainty rears its ugly head. It challenges my core belief system that hard work must pay off. Right?

Stepping back, I know it does pay off…however, not necessarily in the way I expect. That’s the rub. It will pay off, but 5 years later. It will pay off as I use those skills in an entirely different profession. But that effort and dedication will pay off. You just don’t know how or when. And that. Really. Sucks.

Emunah or faith means believing in what you can’t see. It means believing in what you just somehow know, sometimes in spite of physical evidence that suggests otherwise. Emunah is a choice. There is no challenge to believe when the proof can be written before you. The leap happens when you believe despite what is written before you.

However frustrating, confusing or maddening, the reality is that we don’t want a Gd whose every step we understand, who we can out-think. What good is that?

Moments of doubt build character. Who are you really? Show yourself. A visionary, an upstander, one who is true to his values come what may? Then, what will you do now? Shrink and choose the easy route because the fear is too intense? Or breathe and walk into the unknown remembering, “In the end, it’s all good. And if it’s not good, it’s not the end.”

“.בסוף~הכל טוב
.ואם זה לא טוב~זה לא הסוף”
“In the end it’s all good.
And if it’s not good, it’s not the end.”

At the crux of my conviction lays the idea that Hashem is good, and that the circumstances aren’t just for the good, but are actually for the best. This knowledge soothes me in the face of challengers like time.

Time scares me. I never have enough of it. It races ahead, I always want more, and I measure myself ruthlessly against it. But, underneath my moments of inner pandemonium, I do know it’s working. I do know that ha-kol b’seder. (Literally: it’s all in order.)

I don’t get to see the big picture in real time. That’s the bad news and the good news for the future is determined in the very moment I decide whether to quit, or persist with the emuna/faith that it’s all happening in the most harmonious way for everyone involved.

Today was a day where I didn’t understand Hashem’s process or timeline. Yet despite my frustration and impatience, I suspect I will one day look back and say, “Thank Gd.”

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