From the Rabbi’s Study…January 19, 2024/9 Shevat 5784
The Torah portion has Moses and Aaron continuing to plead with Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free. The Pharaoh keeps refusing their pleas, and now the Egyptians will be punished with the last three plagues (locust, darkness, and the death of their firstborn) of the Ten Plagues. Pharaoh finally allows the Israelites to leave. The Israelites proclaim that each year, on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month (Nisan), a festival lasting seven days will be observed to recall their freedom from bondage. The unleavened bread, matzah will be eaten for seven days.
Many Jews believe that Tishrei is the first month of the year because our High Holidays are in that month. In Exodus 12:2 it is G-d that commands the Jewish people that the month of the Exodus was to be the first month of the year. This action of the Israelites replacing the Egyptian method marking time is the beginning of the Jewish calendar and the final break with Egypt. Today, each new month is celebrated and called a Rosh Chodesh, which in ancient times special offerings were presented to G-d.
One of the greatest miracles in history is the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt. Today the custom of eating matzah and celebrating our freedom throughout the festival of Passover. The Jews that live outside of Israel celebrate Passover for eight days. The reason is that in ancient times fires were lit on the top of mountains to announce the new month and it may have taken an extra day to reach all the Jewish people.
Why do the Jewish people continue to tell the story of Passover? This comes from Exodus 13:8, which states that you shall tell your son the story of the exodus from Egypt. The Hebrew word Haggadah means to tell! So each year every Jewish family reads from the Haggadah around the world at their seder.
Knowing about our ancestors being slaves in Egypt and the horrors they endured. We are reminded that today, the world has witnessed the barbaric attack by Hamas on innocent Israelis. It has been more than 100 days and more than 100 were taken hostage. May they have a speedy release from their terrorist capturers so that they can live free with their loved ones and celebrate many holidays.
May Israel have B’hatzlacha/continued success in all their endeavors!
Am Ysrael Chai!
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder