Passover: A Love Story
The love story began on a night when the loved one was totally unprepared, undeserving of love, yet the lover came anyway and saved her.
The special love relationship, which the Jewish people share with God, was forged on this night of Passover, the night of leaving Egypt.
The Hebrew word Pesach means "skipping over," rather than "passing over" as it is commonly translated. A deeper meaning for this term becomes evident from this Midrash:
The voice of my beloved, here it comes skipping over the mountains, jumping over the hills.(Song of Songs 2:8)
When Moses came to the Jewish people and said, "This month you will be redeemed," they said to him, "How can we leave when all of Egypt is filled with our idol-worship?" Moses answered, "Since God desires to redeem you, He will not look at your idol worship. Rather, He is skipping over the mountains."They said to him, "How can we be redeemed when only 210 years have passed out of the 400 years of the decree of slavery?" He said, "Since God desires to redeem you He will not look at your calculations. Rather, He is skipping over the mountains." (Midrash Shir Hashirim Raba 2)
On this night, the natural order of things was reversed. Instead of the Jewish people calling out to God to redeem them, God came to them at a time when they were least prepared, when they were at their lowest spiritual low, when they were completely undeserving of a change of fate.
Yet, it is at this juncture that God tells Moses:
"Israel is my firstborn." (Exodus 4:22)
God, our Father, relates to us as His children. A father doesn't wait for his children to deserve to be saved from the lion's den.
This is the founding element of our entry into nationhood, the loving unconditional relationship between God and His people. God skipped over our deeds, like an infatuated lover who overlooks his beloved's faults.
"Love covers all crimes." (Proverbs 10:12)
(It seems like this is the original source for the clich? "Love is blind.")
THE LOVE STORY BEGINS HERE
The holiday of Passover provides us with the initial jumpstart to the Jewish calendar. God initiates the relationship -- one-sided and unconditional at first -- with the fledgling Jewish nation. His love gives us the security and the strength we need to respond in kind and to take the responsibility at Mount Sinai.
This explains why we read the "Song of Songs" -- that ultimate love story -- on Shabbat during Passover. It also explains an interesting point regarding the names of the holidays.
We call this holiday Pesach to remember the "passing over" of God of the Jewish homes during the last plague. Whereas in the Torah, this name isn't mentioned. Instead, God calls it the "holiday of Matzot" to remember our willingness to leave Egypt in such haste, putting aside our concerns about our dough and instead trusting in God.
Each of us -- God and Israel -- appreciates and chooses to remember the other's kindness and contribution to the relationship.
Love, trust and appreciation are the main ingredients of any close relationship, be it between husband and wife, between parent and child, or between two friends. Here, through the story of Passover, the foundation is set for our relationship with God –- not a relationship of servant to master, subject to king, but a relationship of lover and beloved.
IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN
Again, this year we will experience the first night of Passover, which is called Leil Shimurim –- the night of God's watching.
This is the point in time when, again, God desires our redemption and demands nothing in return.
It is an opportunity to feel God's loving presence, as He envelops us in a secure cocoon, protecting us from any danger.
Let's allow ourselves to trust Him in return and take the risks involved in love and commitment.