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Samantha Gabrielle Ferszt
Writing to give you something to think about.

Generational Redemption

As I sit on my flight home from spending Pesach (Passover) overseas, counting my blessings, I can’t help but think about the concept of all that we just celebrated as a nation, and how strong we must be to have celebrated with such fervor during a time of such uncertainty.  

While being a classic example of the age- old joke, “we were about to be wiped out, Hashem (God) saved us, let’s eat,” this year’s Pesach experience gave us much more to focus on. 

Generally, Pesach is a holiday in which we celebrate our liberation, rebirth and freedom, as is written in our history. Following that, we have Sfirat Ha’Omer (the Counting of the Omer), in which we spend 49 days focusing on a new, abstract concept regarding our relationship with Hashem (God) which we attempt to comprehend. So my question is, how can someone relate to it now? How do we make the abstract more applicable?

Despite having been freed by 10 miracles (or plagues, depending on how you would like to look at it), our people were forced to wander in the desert with only a Nasi (Leader) and a Mishkan (Tabernacle), both indirect but still available links to Hashem, and both things we lost after the destruction of not one, but two of our Temples during the Babylonian period in 586 BC, and once again during the Roman period in AD 70, before being once more forced into exile.

So, here we are today, with no Nasi and no Mishkan, just left to wander on our own and Daven (Pray.) In a time where everything is so easily accessible, that we seldom have to be active in our individual process, I couldn’t help but wonder what real world examples one could use to grasp the concept of exile that appears, at face value, to be too abstract to properly comprehend.

On Erev Pesach (the Eve of Passover), which also happened to be the second Friday of Ramadan, the last months wave of violence in Israel came to a head when clashes erupted on the Temple Mount between a group of Muslim worshippers and Israeli security forces, which proceeded to spiral so far out of control that Jews are no longer allowed to set foot onto the Temple Mount, the place where our Beit Ha’Mikdash (Temple) once stood, until Ramadan ends on May 2nd. And yet, we celebrated Pesach. 

According to our history, the second day of Chag (Holiday) is when we began to wander through the desert on our path to true liberation, only to then be stuck wandering for another 40 years due to, to put it lightly, poor judgment calls. And yet, we celebrated Pesach. 

And once again returning to our current events, as the war in Ukraine rages on, thousands of Jews were stuck in shelters for their Chag, uncertain of what the next day would bring, just as they have been for weeks. And yet, they celebrated Pesach. 

Sometimes we take our beautifully tragic existence for granted, as we live our lives in accordance with our own wants and needs, while trying to balance a bit of focus on the abstract concept of Moshiach. We go about our lives and let the everyday miracles we experience become something we take for granted. 

 Rabbi Tzvi Sytner once said, “‘Don’t be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I am going down with you,’ the story of Pesach is not only that He (Hashem) took us out but is always by our side.” 

It’s the procession of Yom Ha’Shoa, Yom Ha’Zikaron, and Yom Ha’Atzmaut which serves as a more recent example of exactly that. The concept of Moshiach (Messiah), and miracles no longer become an abstract that we need to struggle to believe or find examples for, we literally have one more tangible, “real world” example after the other of Hashem’s unconditional love. 

With the start of Yom Ha’Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, we are quite literally forced to remain grounded and look back on the blessing of salvation and liberation we were given in 1945. Because while most of the world stood idly by, and 6 million Jews were murdered, Hashem (God) still looked after and liberated us, giving us the State of Israel in 1948. 

Cut to Yom Ha’Zikaron, Israeli Veterans’ Day, a day of both mourning and celebrating the lives of those lost for the continuation of the State of Israel, by both serving in the Israeli Army or having been victims of terror. A day in which the State of Israel quite literally closes down normal operations in order to honor our fallen heroes, and humble those of us who are still here because of the endless amounts of sacrifices made between 1948 and today. 

And immediately after, we have the whiplash effect that comes with Yom Ha’Atzmaut, the day we celebrate the gift we were given of that little State taking up 1% of the Middle East, while also being home to millions of Jews, surrounded by nothing but hostility for miles.

Throughout every step of what can easily be deemed one of the most tragic and uncertain times in both historical and current events, we celebrated. But what did we celebrate? Our liberation from exile millions of years ago? 

We celebrated our rebirth, our existence, and most importantly, our resilience.

We stood proudly at the end of our Seder (Passover meals) and cried out “L’Shana Ha’Bah B’Yerushalayim”, “next year in Jerusalem,” while the reincarnations of the evils and hatred, the persecution we faced all those years ago in Egypt, continue to rear their heads to this day, reminding us why we celebrate the miracles of our liberation. 

We call Hashem by the title of “Av Ha’Rachaman,” “Our Merciful Father,” for the gift that is the constant liberation we see today. When we all make the conscious effort to ground ourselves in the reality of Hashem being all Merciful and always by our side, new meaning is brought to these auspicious days representing both ancient and modern times. Hashem was with us 3,000 years ago, he was with us in 1945 and in 1948, and He is with us now and will continue to be every day until Moshiach comes. 

This year, when we remember the Holocaust, when we remember our brothers and sisters who lost their lives in the fight for our freedom, and when we celebrate our right to control our own fate, let’s also celebrate that we have Hashem in all his Mercy with us every step of the way. Let us celebrate our Generational Redemption.

About the Author
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, making my way through the world and formulating my thoughts and opinions, particularly on the two topics considered more “taboo” for table discussions; religion and politics.
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