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To Pesach, with love

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The Shabbos before Pesach is called “Shabbat Hagadol”, and it’s upon us once again. As we walk around shopping centres this Pesach season, we’re drawn to all the specially marked shelves which are advertising “kosher for Pesach” everything. People are boasting about their latest purchases and moaning about this year’s prices. Shops display the latest products, and friends talk about Pesach plans. The air around us is abuzz with “Pesach, Pesach, Pesach”.

When we look through the Torah, however, the references to Pesach are mainly through the pascal offering. Throughout the rest of the Torah, Hashem refers to this holiday as Chag Hamatzot (the festival of matzah). The Torah doesn’t seem to have picked up the Pesach spirit. What’s the reason for this?

To answer this question, let’s see when the Torah does talk about Pesach. It’s mentioned by Hashem passing over our houses during the plague of the “killing of the first-born”. Hashem purposely spared the Jewish people to become His nation, and killed our oppressor’s future haters. The festival of matzah, on the other hand, refers to the remembrance of how we left Egypt in a great hurry to arrive at Mount Sinai to receive G-d’s Torah – even to the point that we didn’t give our bread enough time to rise.

This explains the reason for the specific usage of these two different names. The Jewish people remember Hashem’s love, and we’re thankful to Him for having spared our lives, therefore, we refer to this holiday only as Pesach – Passover. We’re eternally grateful that Hashem passed over us. Hashem, however, remembers how devoted we were to Him, how we were so eager to receive His Torah that we didn’t even wait for our dough to rise and left with flat bread.

It’s for this reason that we read the megillah of Shir Hashirim next Shabbos. A book composed by King Solomon that describes in great detail the love we have for Hashem and the love He has for his people.

So, as we do the last bit of shopping and see Pesach all around us, let’s try and remember how much Hashem loves us.

Wishing you all a very good Pesach.

  • Rabbi Ryan Goldstein is the rabbi at West Street Shul.

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