Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

7th and 8th Day of Pesach 5776

Dear Friends,

We observed Israel's Exodus from Egypt at the Family Seder that we held in our homes last Friday evening. We retold the story of the liberation from slavery that took place on the fifteenth day of Nissan. However, our people's liberation was not complete. Pharaoh and his people had second thoughts and decided to pursue the fleeing slaves and return them to their work. They caught up with them on the night of the Seventh day, Shvee-ee shel Pesah. The Children of Israel were in distress and in a bad place. Facing them was the Sea of Reeds, behind them was Pharaoh and his army.

We know the end of that story. Another extraordinary miracle is needed for them to be saved. The sea splits and allows them to cross, while the Egyptian pursuers drown in it, when the waters return to their position.

Our ancestors' celebration of being liberated from Egyptian rule and the oppression of slavery was short-lived. It lasted just six days, before they had to rely on G-d's intervention to be saved again.

There is a well-known Talmudic saying: "Maa-ssei Avot, Siman Labanim" - What happened to our ancestors is a sign of what will happen to their descendants. For the past 3000 years, the Children of Israel have experienced independence and success, followed by wars, exiles and sufferings. In every place of our dispersion, we overcame discrimination and succeeded in making significant contributions to our people and the people who welcomed us. Those periods were short-lived as we continued to be the most persecuted people on this planet. Today, after having witnessed the most tragic period in our history, we also realize that this is the most successful period in our history, but still filled with many challenges. Antisemitism is on the rise in many European countries. Israel is still surrounded by enemies who seek its destruction. The UN and many countries in this world, cannot stand Israel's successes.

The Midrash emphasizes that the Sea only split after brave individuals led by Nahshon ben Aminadav risked their lives and walked into the water. Shvee-ee shel Pesah, the events of the Seventh Day of Pesah, remind us that even under the most dire situations, we must continue the fight and do what we can to help our people. Nothing can stand before us as redemption will come, just like it happened to our people by Yam Suf, by the Sea of Reeds.

As we enter the last two days of Pesah when we celebrated Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt, I want to share with you a Hassidic teaching. Our Hassidic teachers explain that there are two types of Yetziat Mitzrayim. There is the historical Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt when our people were liberated from the oppressions of Egyptian enslavement. And there is also a Mitzrayim in which we live. Mitzrayim comes from the Hebrew word of Tzar, meaning narrow or Tzarah, which means trouble.

Every human being at one time or another faces Tzarot or Tzuros as it is pronounced in Yiddish. Mitzrayim, therefore, is a constant struggle that comes with life. It comes with issues related to relationships, family, earning a livelihood, health, etc., etc. when we find ourselves in Mitzrayim.

Yetziat Mitzrayim. therefore is the Pesah message that we do our best to overcome the challenges that come with life, and hope for a Yetziat Mitzrayim, going out of our own Mitzrayim - those things that sadden us and restrict us.

May your Mitzrayim be small, and may you find ways to get out of Mitzrayim.

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach!

Avram