Messages of Passover: Unity of G-d & Overcoming Limitations

For translation of this page in Portuguese, click here:

(1) A Personal Exodus: Overcoming Spiritual Limitations

adapted from an essay by Rabbi H. Pekkar

In Hebrew, the word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, means “limitations.” “Going out of Egypt” does not only refer to the exodus of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt. It also means that each person, Jew or Gentile, can overcome those things in his life which he sees as limitations on his ability to properly serve G-d according to His Will, i.e., according to the Torah-true faith, which in essence is higher than intellect.

Exodus from Egypt

Exodus from Egypt

Self-imposed limitations are caused by the limited or incorrect perspectives in a person’s own intellect and emotions. One should strive to go out from the unfounded limitations he has submitted himself to. A first step in this process is to realize that if he tries properly he WILL be able to see Divine Providence in his life. This will strengthen his faith that creation really is altogether subject to G-d’s Will, so no outside influence really has the power to stand in the way of a Gentile’s personal observance of the Noahide Code.

One can obtain the strength for this by “going out of Egypt” (his own self-imposed limitations), by taking a lesson from the symbolism of matzah (unleavened bread, which is baked before the dough has time to rise), maror (bitter herbs), and wine.

Matzah represents humility, and maror represents bitterness. When a person thinks about G-d and he reminds himself of G-d’s miracles, he should visualize them in his mind’s eye (for example, G-d’s splitting of the sea for the Jewish people during their exodus from slavery in Egypt/Mitzrayim). This will bring him to humility and awe before G-d, because he sees that everything in the world and within himself is from G-d’s power, and not from his own or any other power. This leads one to realize the bitterness of one’s own spiritual errors, and the bitterness of the continuing concealment of the Shechinah (G-d’s Divine Presence) in the spiritual darkness that dominates the world until Moshiach comes.

When a person internalizes these two realizations (the humility and the bitterness), then he becomes able to wholeheartedly and joyfully receive G-d’s word from the Torah, without personal agendas or prejudice. He then realizes that following G-d’s Will (i.e. the Noahide Code for all Gentiles) is the very best thing that a Gentile can do for himself and his family, and he makes a commitment to do this with a joyful heart. This internal joy is connected with the concept of wine, the fruit of the vine, which is a symbol of rejoicing. The fact that a libation of wine accompanied the offerings to G-d in the Holy Temple reminds us that our experience of joy can be redirected away from the false joy of indulging in mundane pleasures, to true joy in serving G-d.

May the humility, awe, and joy experienced in directing our personal lives to G-d bring us to eagerly anticipate the imminent arrival of Elijah the prophet, whose mission is to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers” [Malachi 3:23-24], and to prepare the world for the true and complete redemption through Moshiach (the Messiah, descended from the royal house of King David). Therefore Rambam summarizes the essence of Elijah’s mission as “he will come solely to establish peace” (Laws of Kings, chapter 12).

(2) The Complete Unity and Unlimited Power of G-d

by Rabbi Moshe Weiner

author of: “Sheva Mitzvot HaShem”, “The Divine Code”, “Seven Gates of Righteous Knowledge”

The Passover Haggadah text states about the Exodus from Egypt:

The Holy One, blessed be He, did it in His glory by Himself! Thus it is said: “In that night I will pass through the land of Egypt, and I will smite every first-born … I, G-d.” [Meaning] … I and not an angel; … I and not a seraph; … I and not a messenger; … it is I, and none other!

The mistaken concept of sheetuf (a “partner” with G-d) is the idea that there is an independent creation or being (for example, an angel) that functions independently of G-d. The Jewish people are commanded from the verse (Deuteronomy 6:4), “Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One,” to believe and accept the truth that there is no independent existence other than G-d. Everything “else” is created and truly is only functioning according to G-d’s decree, like an axe that is used in the hands of a woodcutter. [1] The exception is a human being, who uniquely is given free will, and who is permitted by G-d to function as he likes.

Although Gentiles are not commanded that they must reject the false concept of a sheetuf (a “partner” with G-d), nevertheless, a Gentile has no permission from G-d to worship some existence other than Him, that the person imagines to be a sheetuf.[2] One can imagine a sheetuf simply as a being that is independent from G-d, which contradicts the verse “Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One.” One can also imagine a sheetuf that has an independent power over physical or spiritual matters, which contradicts the verse, “You shall not have for yourselves any other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). In either case, it is obvious that worshiping any type of sheetuf is idolatrous. It is obvious that thinking that an angel (for example) is independent does not force one to worship it. Therefore, one who worships any sheetuf transgresses the universal prohibition of idolatry. One who thinks or believes that worship of a sheetuf is a worthy conduct, even though he does not actually worship a sheetuf himself, denies a fundamental principle of Torah faith.[3]

Mankind is even forbidden to worship a person, despite the fact that a person has the unique quality among the creations of having free will, which even angels do not have.

[1] Note from the Director: One of the purposes for all of the Ten Plagues with which G-d struck the idolatrous ancient Egyptians was to teach them this truth, because they worshiped creatures in the physical world, and the “forces of nature” which they imagined were controlled by a host of independent deities. The Ten Plagues also impressed this idea upon the Israelites who had been enslaved for several generations by the Egyptians, and many of them had become influenced by the idolatrous Egyptian culture.

[2]  This is a fundamental principle of the Noahide Code. See The Divine Code, Part II, Chapter 1.

[3] See Rambam, Laws of Repentance 3:7, which states: “Five [individuals] are described as minim (deviant believers): (a) one who says there is no deity and no spiritual ruler of the universe; (b) one who accepts that there is a spiritual ruler, but maintains that there are two or more; (c) one who accepts that there is one master [of the universe], but maintains that [this master] has a body or form; (d) one who maintains that this [one master] alone was not the First Being and Creator of everything; (e) one who worships a star, constellation, or other [physical or spiritual] entity with the thought that it will be an advocate [or intermediary] between himself and the Master of the [physical and spiritual] worlds. Each of these five individuals is a min.”