Passover is not only the birthday of the Jewish people, it is Independence Day for all mankind.
Until the day that G-d took the Jews from Egypt there were only two courses in life available; spiritual or physical.
For instance, the Torah tells us that the Egyptians were a very spiritual people. They could change inanimate sticks to snakes, water into blood and produce frogs from nowhere; spiritual powers unheard of today.
And they were also very advanced in the mundane; to this day it is a mystery how they built the pyramids and according to some opinions they ruled the entire world at that time.
But although they seemingly lacked nothing, they were, in fact, slaves to their natures and trapped in creation.
On the other hand the Jews seemingly lacked everything; they were fourth generation slaves with no future and almost no hope. But when G-d took them from Egypt they brought a new possibility to the world; to be attached to the Creator.
So ironically the Egyptians were the epitome of slavery and the Jews of freedom!
But does this make sense? Can we really leave creation? How is such a thing possible and what practical meaning does it have?
Here is a story to illustrate.
It was a few weeks before Passover 1976 in Holland. George (fictitious name) lived in a small village in the Dutch countryside. He wasn't exactly a religious Jew, but he did keep the few commandments that he learned from his parents. But they had been killed with his brothers, sisters and all the other Jews in the area by the Nazis some thirty years earlier.
Now he was alone. The only Jew left. But he didn't complain. He got a good job as a cook in a restaurant, fixed up the old house the Germans had destroyed and was quite content. His problem was he was alone and shy.
He always had had trouble finding friends or making any major moves in life but now, coupled with being a Jew, it was taking its toll.
At first being the only Jew in the area didn't really bother him that much; he enjoyed privacy and had enough to do on his own.
But the weekends were becoming unbearable. On Saturdays he had to pray the few prayers he knew alone at home and on Sundays he watched all the people going to and coming from Church while he had no where to go. And, of course, there was the problem of finding a wife. There were simply no Jews for miles and where would he find a Jewish girl?
Of course he had considered many times just selling his house, leaving his job and moving to the city where there was a big Jewish community but that meant making a jump.. a major move! And he was afraid. He needed someone to help him, and there was no one.
And so he kept putting it off week after week, month after month year after year until he was already well into his thirties and decided to give in; he made up his mind to go to the priest and change his religion! That would be the easiest and most simple solution.
Not that he hadn't considered the idea before, he had, many times… but something inside him said it was wrong. He'd heard stories about how Jews gave their lives not to do it and he was sure that his father and grandfather, if they were alive, would be horrified. But he was tired of being alone and always fighting.
Finally he made up his mind. He'd had enough!! The holiday of Passover was approaching, the holiday when G-d helped the Jews with miracles thousands of years ago.
He decided that unless something miraculous happened to him. Well, maybe the whole Bible thing was (G-d forbid) just a story.
He even prayed to G-d. He said, "Listen G-d, if you care about me then… I need a miracle like you did in Egypt. Send me someone to help me be a Jew. But if it doesn't happen in the next two weeks …then … well, I'm going to the priest."
And sure enough, two weeks passed ….. and nothing happened.
"Well, that's it!" He said to himself as he was cooking up orders in the restaurant. "Two weeks is up. As soon as I finish work today I'm going to the priest. That's it!!"
Suddenly his boss' voice broke his thoughts. "Someone here for you, George."
He looked up and couldn't believe his eyes. It was a full-fledged Jew with a hat, beard dark suit and all.
"You're Jewish?" the man asked. George wiped his hands on his apron and nodded yes with tears filling his eyes."
"Hey! Good to see you! I've been wandering around this town for the last three hours looking for you."
"Me?" George asked. "You want me? Who are you?"
"I'm a Chassid, a follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Schneerson in Brooklyn. I live in Amsterdam and got a call a few days ago from the Rebbe's office that the Rebbe wants me to come here to this town, find the Jew that lives here and give this to him. " He handed George a nicely colored box flat box. "It's three matzot for the Passover 'seder' tomorrow night."
George took the box as though he was in a dream and blurted out! "This is a miracle! Your Rebbe saved me! He answered my prayers" and proceeded to tell the Chassid his entire story.
"One correction" The Chassid said, "It's not my Rebbe it's our Rebbe. The Lubavitcher Rebbe is 'Rosh Bnei Yisroel'… the head of the Jewish people. (The letters for Rebbe are an acronym for Rosh Bnei Yisroel) and just as the head automatically feels all the limbs of the body, so the Rebbe feels the pain of every Jew. He must have felt that you were considering, G-d forbid, leaving your Jewish soul."
This answers our questions. At first glance what would be so bad if George, G-d forbid, went to the priest? Aren't all religions basically the same? Why have Jews given their lives rather than change religion?
The answer is that since we left Egypt we feel the truth; that there really is no existence except for G-d … and His Torah is the only way to reveal this Oneness in the world. And every Jew FEELS deep down that it is impossible to deny this.
While the other religions divide G-d, the physical world and the spiritual after-life into separate domains … the Jews cry "Hear Israel, G-d is our G-d, G-d is ONE!"
But now, all this is concealed. That is the meaning of Egypt… exile and concealment.
This is why we are waiting so impatiently and doing all we can to bring Moshiach.
Just like Moses began to bring this truth into reality so Moshiach will finish the process. He will teach the Jews to bring blessing and meaning into creation, and transform this physical world into heaven-on-earth.
And this is symbolized by everything we do in the night of the 'seder'. The three matzot; the food of faith, mean bringing this awareness into our intellect, understanding and reality (Chachma, Bina, Daat)
The four cups of wine are to reveal joy and emotion (represented by wine);the four letters of G-d's name.. into the four directions of the world and through the four spiritual worlds (Atzilut, Briah etc).
Then the entire world will go out of 'Egypt' with.…