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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

From Physical Slavery to Spiritual Liberation: The True Meaning of Pesach

Imagine a prisoner who, after many years, finally becomes free. He celebrates the day of his freedom and remembers it for years to come. One day, he returns to is old ways and finds himself back in the prison. Obviously, he no longer celebrates the anniversary of his emancipation from the renewed confinement of his lonely prison cell.

Why do we celebrate our exodus from Egypt every year if we are again in exile? This is a question that often comes up during Passover, as we retell the story of the Jewish people's miraculous escape from slavery in Egypt. Some may argue that it's pointless to celebrate our freedom from Egypt if we're still not truly free today.

However, the answer lies in understanding the true meaning behind the holiday.

The commentaries explain that Passover is not just about commemorating our physical liberation from slavery. It's also about recognizing the spiritual redemption that occurred during that time. When God performed the ten plagues and split the sea, it was not just to free the Jewish people from Egypt, but also to introduce Himself to us and establish a relationship with us.

The Ramban explains that various misconceptions about G-d were prevalent in those times. Through the miracles, each misconception was clarified and the true picture of G-d and His relationship with the world emerged.

It's essential to retell this story every year, to relive the miracles and incorporate them into our world outlook. Even if we are wise, and learned, it is incumbent upon us to retell the story. We must relive it for ourselves, and pass it on to the next generation to keep this special relationship alive. By doing so, we recharge our batteries and take these lessons with us throughout the year. Our job is now to internalize these lessons and realize that even what appear to be natural, normal laws of nature are indeed the hand of G-d as well.

We are celebrating the fact that we are truly spiritually free. We are not dragged down with the day-to-day, but can strive to live for a higher purpose.

Rav Yaakov of Lisa explains even further. The very fact that Hashem took us out of Egypt with such open miracles forever "commits" Him to continue redeeming us. When the Jewish People sinned with the golden calf, Moshe Rabbenu was able to beseech on our behalf with the claim that if Hashem doesn’t save us it will be a Chillul Hashem. What will Mitzrayim say? That You took them out only to slaughter them in the desert? This claim was created by the everlasting bond and commitment that Hashem established by taking us out with an outstretched arm in full view of all the nations.

And this ensures our future redemption! The fact that we maintain this perspective in our present galus will be the key for Hashem to redeem us again speedily in our days!

In conclusion, Passover is not just a celebration of physical freedom; it's a celebration of spiritual freedom and the establishment of our relationship with God. By retelling the story and internalizing its lessons, we can live a life dedicated to a higher purpose and maintain hope for a brighter future. Next year in Yerushalayim!

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