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Parashat Shmini – Our Existence


“What did you learn in Sunday school today?” Mrs. G asks her son. 

“We learned that Jews left Egypt and came to the Red Sea, Moses built a bridge for the Jews to cross, and then when the Egyptians got on the bridge, Moses blew it up…” 

“Is that really what happened?” asks Mrs. G. skeptically.

“Mom,” the young boy responds, “if you don’t believe that story, you’ll never believe the one my teacher told me!”

That’s right; the whole story of our Exodus hardly makes sense. In fact, our entire existence simply doesn’t make sense! But that’s just the point: the Jewish People don’t exist because of reason – we exist in spite of reason.

But how? What has kept us together? We are dispersed across the globe – Morocco, Israel, Australia, the USA – what makes us a unified people? Chummus? Gefilte fish?

The holiday of Pesach holds the answer to this question.

Here we are today, in the year 2020, fulfilling the biblical precept of eating matzah – the very same matzah that our people ate at a secret Seder in Spain during the inquisition of the 1400’s, the very same matzah that Jews baked for Passover in the Middle Ages. Yes, the very same matzah that we carried as we exited the land of Egypt some 3,000 years ago.

So as we celebrate Pesach this year, let us not be mistaken in ascribing our survival to mere culture or tradition. With all due respect to chummus and gefilte fish, that’s just not it. It’s eternal mitzvot like matzah that keep us as a nation.

Wishing you a Happy Passover! 

Rabbi Mendy