Rabbi Daniel Lapin
April 27, 2014
humans, we can't know for sure
what lies ahead,
but the next best thing is to know
that it is possible.
Imagine a desperate man making his way on foot through a desert. Exhausted and thirsty beyond endurance he keeps driving himself forward, day by day, in the hope of reaching an oasis. Eventually, he can go no further and drops hopelessly to the hot sand. Rescuers discover his body only a half-day's walk from a large oasis.
Let's rewind and replay the story with the same man. Except in this version, he knows exactly where the oasis is located. In this account, when he reaches the place where he gave up and died in the first story, he is exactly as exhausted and just as madly thirsty. Yet he does not give up and die. Why? Because he knows that redemption lies just over the next sand dune, a half-day away. Knowing-not hoping or believing, but knowing-that redemption is near endows us with superhuman powers. The mere knowledge that the oasis is near endowed this man with the power to overcome the heat and thirst.
It is hard to build a business. Urgent need for capital can entirely wear down even the hardiest entrepreneur. Gnawing worry morphs into fear that he won't find the funds, diminishing the effectiveness of most business professionals in this unenviable position.
Compare that situation with an entrepreneur who is grappling with precisely the same pressures except that he knows that his next round of financing is happening in three weeks' time. The knowledge that redemption is round the corner endows this human with astonishing powers.
Then there is the married couple struggling to hold their marriage together. One day he is doing his best while she feels it all to be futile; another day she is willing to move mountains in the hope of saving her marriage while he has emotionally checked out. As any counselor knows, the odds of a successful salvage are slim.
Now imagine that each is shown a future vision of their marriage so happy and solid that all recollection of past suffering has been expunged. Just the knowledge that they will be joyfully reconciled makes the hard repair work so much easier to accomplish.
This is one message of Passover. Let me offer a brief example of how ancient Jewish wisdom combines seemingly unrelated incidents to overwhelm us with a Technicolor extravaganza of Truth.
Here are the first two uses of an extremely rare word in Scripture - Mitmameha - meaning delaying or lingering:
And he [Lot] lingered... (Genesis 19:16)
...and they [the Israelites] were not able to linger... (Exodus 12:39)
Here is another feature unique to the Israelite's exodus from Egypt and Lot's rescue from S'dom:
...and he made them a feast and he baked Matzoh... (Genesis 19:3)
...and with Matzoh on bitter herbs they ate it. (Exodus 12:8)
Let's look at two more examples of the strong similarities that unite the account of the Israelites escaping from a doomed Egypt to safe refuge, and the account describing Lot and his daughters escaping from a doomed S'dom to safe refuge:
And God rained upon S'dom and Amorah sulphur and fire... (Genesis 19:24)
...and God rained hail upon the land of Egypt. (Exodus 9:23)
Finally, from the Hebrews' rescue out of Egypt emerged the nation of Israel and from Lot and his daughters' rescue out of S'dom emerged the nations of Amon and Moab.
Many more striking similarities link Lot's rescue from the soon to be destroyed S'dom with the Jews' rescue from the soon to be destroyed Egypt.
Ancient Jewish wisdom explores the linkage. As improbable as it seemed, it was possible for Lot to escape the destruction of his city. Passover teaches that not only is redemption available for one man and his family, but even on a national level, God can bring redemption where no hope exists.
As humans, we can't know for sure what lies ahead, but the next best thing is to know that it is possible. One of the great gifts that God gives His faithful is the eternal vision of tomorrow's redemption no matter how dark it may look today. Knowing this in our heads and believing it deep in our hearts makes today's journey bearable.
Powerful and practical lessons like this one leap from Scripture as well as from the Hebrew language itself. We neglected to make sure that everyone knew our store and offices would be closed the past two days, so we are extending the sale on our best-selling book, Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord's Language for another 24 hours. Many readers tell us how this book enhanced their lives. It penetratingly probes God's inner meaning into twenty-nine of His special words providing non-Hebrew-readers with uplift and inspiration in short easily digestible doses. We'd love it if you made it part of your library and perhaps invest in a few copies to enable you to bless others at opportune times.
© 2014 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