"Speak to the entire community of Israel, saying: In the tenth day of this month every man should take a lamb, according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household."
The midrashic account of Avraham avinu - our patriarch Abraham - in which he single-handedly smashes the clay idols of his father's idol shop, destroying not only the inanimate figures, but also the false pagan doctrine that informed the city of Ur, at once fills us with awe and inspiration. After all, people of Avraham's vision and integrity aren't found every day. And, as for most of us, we are quite prepared to wage our wars against the idolatries of our day vicariously, through the hearing and telling of stories such as this.
Imagine for a moment if G-d were to call upon an entire nation, man, woman, child, and elder, to simultaneously engage in an activity every bit as provocative and audacious as that of Avraham's. Imagine that that same nation were given explicit instructions to do this act of iconoclasm in the most public and "in your face" fashion as is possible, so that their collective act of rebellion could not possibly go by unnoticed by their neighbors, overseers, police officers, government ministers, high priests of morality and public opinion, and even the ruler at the top of the pyramid, whose sovereignty and legitimacy is solely dependent on all that they are calling into question?
Imagine that you were a member of this nation and that you had but four days to complete all the preparations necessary to perform this deed of open rebellion, to actually carry out the act, and to ready all your household and possessions to face the inevitable consequences.
No way? Yes way! This is exactly what the nation of Israel, man, woman, child, and elder, were called upon in Egypt to do without delay. Insurance policies, lay-away plans, savings accounts, job security and the myriad other amenities of society that effectively shoe-horn us into the narrow confines of our well-planned lives are of no relevance any more. One, and only one quality comes to the fore here, as all other safety nets fall away. Known in Hebrew as emunah, it is no more and no less than absolute faith and trust in G-d.
We all spend most of our days in a situation not unlike that of the Hebrews in Egypt - Mitzrayim - literally a narrow place. We are slaves to routine, to inertia, and to the prevailing dogmas of our day. We can shake our fists at the television news anchor, and argue with the morning newspaper, but until we are ready to actively and openly, provocatively and brazenly take society's godless precepts by the throat, and slaughter them for all to see, we will never emerge from our lethargy. The process of liberation begins when we unequivocally cut our ties with all that rules in the name of mistruth, and attach ourselves uncompromisingly and unshakably to the G-d of Israel, who created the heavens and the earth, and who brought the children of Israel our from their bondage in the land of Egypt.
The korban Pesach - Passover offering - referred to in Exodus 12 is the essence of the annual Passover re-enactment of our liberation from Egypt, not merely symbolically, but in the very act of performing the commandment. For too long the nation of Israel has been bereft of the korban Pesach, and, of course, of the very place where that public offering is to be performed: the Holy Temple. This year, for the first time in nearly two thousand years, the Temple Institute led a day long symposium in Jerusalem, overlooking the Temple Mount, in which, not only were practical issues concerning the renewal of the Passover offering discussed by leading Rabbis, but a one year old, flawless lamb was ritually prepared, slaughtered and tended to according to halachah (Jewish law), and the specific instructions concerning how such an offering would be made at the Holy Temple. Although this event was only for instructional purposes as the nation of Israel readies itself for the renewal of the Passover offering, and was not an actual offering, (and although the meat was distributed to needy families), the controversy that it raised in Israel clearly reminded us that liberation from the narrow straits of the politically correct, post modern society in which we live, is no less urgent to us today than it was those many years ago, when an entire nation made known its trust in G-d.
Tune into this week's TEMPLE TALK as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven reflect on the moving experience of the practice Passover offering that they took part in the day before, and the implications of the korban Pesach for the nation of Israel today, and, indeed, for the entire world.
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