Dear Friend,

A recent coffee break found me rereading some of my favorite Passover stories. I read of Passovers celebrated during the Holocaust, in the Siberian Gulag, and in dim cellars during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. The faith and courage that these stories convey never fail to inspire me.

Is it incongruous, one might wonder, to celebrate freedom while living under oppression? To commemorate salvation during times of desperation and deprivation?

The heroes of these tales knew, though, that Passover is more than just a memorial to past glories. The strong hand and the outstretched arm that redeemed our fathers from Egypt have continued to defend our people throughout the ages. “For not just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand.”

On an individual level, too, we each experience a personal bondage to “Pharaoh”—those internal and external things that prevent us from reaching our full potential. Passover empowers us to overcome our limitations and serve G‑d in true freedom.

This year, don’t just retell the Passover story—relive it.

Wishing you and yours a joyous Passover!

Rochel Chein,
responder for Ask the Rabbi @