Rabbi Daniel Lapin
April 15, 2012
[NOTE: Our offices and store will be closed from sunset Thursday night PT through an hour after sunset Saturday night in obedience to God's command to not work on the festival days of Passover. We appreciate your patience.]
A certain Passover image is burned into the memories of many American Jews. They remember Grandpa droning his way through the standardized text of the Seder (Passover evening program) while his children make a dutiful effort to listen. His grandchildren succumb to abject boredom.
Today, that picture has become rare. Those grandchildren have grown up. Some have utterly abandoned observance of Passover while others take it very seriously. The latter correctly understand the Passover Seder to be full of vital life lessons.
After being enslaved by the Egyptians for more than two centuries, no Hebrew even remembered what freedom meant. Their slave status was natural. Just as natural, in fact, as it is for each of us to accept our ‘Egypt’ as natural.
“Our Egypt?” you ask. Yes, our slavery to whatever circumstances block the path to our own Divine destiny. Egyptian slavery is the ultimate model of any oppressive force that obstructs our attempts to reach the purpose God has planned for us.
Our audio CD Let Me Go teaches three vital strategies for escaping the invisible forces that restrain you from reaching your dreams. A peculiar phrase used in the description of the Exodus guides us towards a fourth escape strategy.
the Children of Israel are going out with a high hand.
Perhaps because present tense is so rare in Scripture, the King James Bible substituted the past tense:
…and the Children of Israel went out with a high hand.
Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the present tense actually used emphasizes the relevance of this section to anyone wishing to emulate the Children of Israel and escape his own Egypt. It applies to each of us today - present tense.
Second, the Hebrew word used for high is RaMaH. It appears in a similar context in Deuteronomy 32:27:
…lest they will say, “our hand is high; the Lord has not done this.”
RaMaH means high and dominant. However, look at this verse:
horse and its rider has He flung down into the sea.
How perplexing that the Hebrew word used for ‘flung down’ is also RaMaH.
To make matters worse, see this verse from Job:
much less man, who is [after all] a worm…
The Hebrew word used for ‘worm?’ RiMaH. Regular readers of Thought Tools know that RaMaH and RiMaH are the same word with slightly different pronunciations. With the special power of Hebrew, their meanings are also related. Identifying that relationship exposes us to deep spiritual insight.
The mysterious message of the twin words RaMaH and RiMaH suggest that though they appear to be antonyms, there is a spiritual link between high/dominant and low/abject. Furthermore, this link is a key to escaping one’s own Egypt.
That majestic record of Jewish durability known as the Hagadah, read at the Passover Seder, hints at the link. Not surprisingly, the Hagadah relates how the powerful and mighty Egyptians were humbled. But another essential characteristic of the Hagadah is its commencement with deprecating accounts of the ignoble beginnings of the Israelites. The Hagadah reminds us that Abraham’s father was an idolater before relating the achievements of his children.
Therein lies the valuable key. Life is not static. If you happen to be riding high at this point in your life, retain humility by remembering how easily and quickly high can turn into low. No matter what struggles you face today, you must remember how much lower you or your ancestors were yesterday. Neither the depths of misery nor the heights of triumph are constant states.
In this way, the Passover Seder serves as an annual inoculation against thinking that the status quo defines you. With God’s help and in the blink of an eye, we can go out from our difficulties with a high hand.
It is easy to descend into Egypt while searching for a life mate. I want you all to have the book, I Only Want to Get Married Once by a wise and experienced Jerusalem-based relationship coach. You or someone you love urgently needs the crucial guidance given here – and it’s only $10 online this week! Leave behind your status quo or help someone else do so!
© 2012 Rabbi Daniel Lapin - All Rights Reserved
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America's Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author and host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show on San Francisco’s KSFO. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths. In 2007 Newsweek magazine included him in its list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis.
You can contact Rabbi Daniel Lapin through his website.
Web Site: www.rabbidaniellapin.com