“I need help to know how to cope with all that is happening now in the world.” That is what a close friend said to me when I asked her what type of religious guidance she most needed now as Pesach approaches. And no wonder. For over the last weeks and months, Israel has been torn apart with an unprecedented and tumultuous political upheaval and in the U.S., anti-Semitism—which not too long ago we thought had receded into the dark corners—has now reached its highest level in 43 years.
What can we do that can make a difference? Perhaps, as individuals and in the short run, not much. But Pesach teaches us that when we are in need of redemption, then no matter how distant it may seem, we must act. For only when we act, do we break through chains of helplessness and despair that immobilize us; only when we act, do we become free.
The Israelites in Egypt were helpless, subject to powers much greater than they. They had no control over whether they would be slaves or be freed; nothing that they could do would make a discernible difference. And yet, before the redemption could come, there was something that they must do first. Take a paschal lamb, they were commanded, put its blood on your doorposts, protect your homes and be ready to go when the time comes. God surely did not need this to protect them. Their actions made no difference in whether they would be saved, they made a difference in how they would be saved. Not as passive slaves, but as people with agency, as a people who could become truly free. Because they acted, they were not just saved, they were redeemed.
For us today, we, too, must become an active part of the redemption that we seek. Find out what organizations and causes are making a difference, support them, and reach out to your friends to do the same; volunteer; organize and go to a rally, call your family and friends in Israel to give them emotional support. Do something. Do anything. Contribute in some small way. Do, so that you can be free. Do, so that when your child asks you ”what is this?” You will be able to say: “Because of this,” because of how I and so many others acted, “did God act for me. Because of this, redemption did ultimately come.”
Chag Kasher vi’Samayach.