The Hebrew word “Pesach” denotes a holiday, and refers to the angel of death skipping over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. But the same word that means skipping also means “lame.” Hidden in that similarity is a deep lesson.
That which limits us can empower us. Moses’ words were all the more powerful for being hesitant, and his impediment became a catalyst for eloquence. The famous kabbalist Isaac the Blind had deep mystical insight sparked by his physical inability to see. Many people have been driven to succeed precisely because of the trials of their childhood. The modern state of Israel, deprived of the oil that enriches its neighbors, as a result built a technology industry that is the envy of the world.
Everyone is given obstacles in this world, some more serious and painful than others. Part of spiritual growth is to use them as motivations and not merely restrictions. Sometimes the challenges we are given become the accomplishments we create. Perhaps the Hebrew root “psh” is teaching us that the angel could not walk, but he could fly.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book, “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press), has recently been published.