The Temple Institute: Passover Greetings from the Temple Institute



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Passover Greetings from the Temple Institute

13 Nisan 5765 / April 21, 2005
2005 The Temple Institute, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved

The festival of Passover which begins immediately after Shabbat commemorates Israel's miraculous exodus from Egypt. It is this extraordinary event that marks the birth of Israel as a nation. "Has any god ever miraculously come to take for himself a nation from amidst a nation... such as everything that the L-rd your G-d did for you in Egypt before your eyes?" (Deut. 4:34)

Turning our backs on Egyptian idolatry and slavery, we headed towards Mount Sinai and our eternal covenant with G-d. Nothing can ever change that covenant, and no force - external or internal - can change or alter Israel's destiny: to be "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex. 19:6).

We are commanded to teach our children about that covenant: "You shall teach them to your children..." (Deut. 6:7).

"The child is father to the man," wrote the poet William Wordsworth. At first mention that may sound like some sort of inverse logic, but parents can learn a great deal from their children. Parents help to mold and shape their children, but the child helps the parent to grow as well, providing the healthy, honest perspective that is born of innocence. Children have no agenda, and thus they can unabashedly declare the truth, as in "the Emperor has no clothes." Perhaps it is this childlike ability to speak the truth without fear, with fresh and unassuming honesty, that our sages had in mind when they taught that "after the destruction of the Holy Temple, even though the spirit of true prophecy has temporarily ceased, the gift of prophecy was given over to little children."

Perhaps it is this honest and "childish" wisdom, so close to true prophecy, that Israel needs to call upon this Passover to relive the Exodus once again, to turn our backs on oppression and bondage and denial of the one G-d who calls upon us to serve only Him.

G-d called us out of Egypt and brought us to this Land, bequeathing it to our nation, Israel, as an eternal, everlasting covenant. We haven't heard that He ever changed His mind in this regard. He gave us no option - no permission - to engage, disengage, compromise or otherwise self-destruct. Only our children, our future generations with whose lives the emperor is gambling, are pure and guileless enough to stand before him to say: Why are you not ashamed of your nakedness? You have nothing on.

Our children are our continuation, our future... our most precious commodity. Passover is all about children. Indeed, the Passover seder revolves around the participation of the children. The main theme of the festive seder night is the obligation upon every father in Israel to tell his children the story of G-d's deliverance. It is an actual Biblical obligation on this night for a father to recount the story of Israel's exodus from Egypt to his children: "And you shall tell your son on that day, saying, 'It is because of this that the L-rd acted on my behalf when I left Egypt.'" (Ex. 13:8).

This verse is in first person. G-d took each and every one of us out of Egyptian bondage, and on this sanctified night, He renews the Exodus each year, and gives us the strength to face down our oppressors and leave the house of bondage.

With the children in mind, we have designed the Temple Institute website's new Passover feature, which describes how the Passover festival was celebrated in the time of the Holy Temple, especially from the perspective of a young boy, who accompanies his family to Jerusalem for the seven day holiday celebration. While we hope that this format will be particularly appealing to children of all ages, we are confident that everyone, adults included, who wishes to learn more about the observance of Passover in the Holy Temple, will find the feature to be very informative.

With prayers for the Great and Final Redemption, for joy in the Land of Israel and all over the world, and blessings for a happy and kosher Passover,

Rabbi Chaim Richman

PO Box 31876 Jerusalem, Israel 97500


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