Erev Pesach 5772
The festival of Passover is, in essence, the festival of redemption.
The Exodus from Egypt is, in fact, the prototype of redemption for all generations.
Surely, everyone would like things to improve and be more successful in all aspects of life; yet this is not redemption.
Redemption is much more than a mere improvement in the current state of affairs.
Whether on a large-scale like the redemption from Egypt, or as a minor event, redemption is a transition to a new phase totally different from the previous one.
Although in essence, redemption is not a matter of work or processes, but rather a gift from Above, it does require one fundamental preparation from below, on the part of the redeemed: the desire to be redeemed.
People are not always willing to be redeemed, because in principle they tend to accept their present situation.
Redemption arrives in answer to a request or an expectation when people can no longer bear to continue under the present conditions.
It says in Jewish sources that the doorway for redemption occurred when "the Egyptians made the lives of the Jews bitter" (e.g. Exodus 1:14).
Although the bitterness ended with the coming of the redemption, it became engraved in our memory.
Yet, redemption brought about a change in the nature of the bitterness.
What until then was just a bitter herb, with redemption, became a spice for the good things accompanying it.
We live in a world of material bounty, nevertheless it is a place full of stress in the present, and doubts and fears about the future.
If these doubts only bring about an overall sense of despondency, they are not sufficient to enable us to be redeemed.
Only when they turn into a feeling of bitterness and a drive to move forward, do they bring about redemption.
Although generally redemption is seen as pertaining to an entire nation, perhaps even to the whole world, it also has a very private side to it: every individual can long for his or her own redemption.
And if each one of us will open our hearts to it, redemption can indeed reach us.
for a happy and kosher Passover,
and with wishes
for the redemption of the nation
and the individual,
(Message from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz sent on April 5, 2012 to Arthur Kurzweil for readers of this blog.)