During the Seder we tell the story of Passover: how G‑d "passed over" the Jewish homes and spared the first born Israelites from the fate that was in store for their Egyptian counterparts. While all the Egyptian first born were stricken at midnight of the fifteenth day of the month of Nissan of the year 2448, not one Jewish first born was harmed.

This tenth and final plague got Pharaoh to finally agree to let the Jews go. This is why the festival is called Passover, or Passover, because G‑d "passed-over" the homes of the Jews.

One might ask: Are we to imagine that G‑d physically traveled from house to house? We can just imagine the juvenile mind's image of G‑d reaching a Jewish home and then exclaiming, "Oops, wrong house!"

Obviously, G‑d who is Omnipresent, did not have to travel to reach the Egyptian first born and He did not have to jump over any home to spare its residents. Instantaneously, at the most precise moment, all those who were destined to die, died, and all those destined to live, lived.

There was no physical passing over. Why then, does the Torah describe it as such. And why do we highlight the "Passing-Over" phenomenon, by referring to the Holiday as "Passover".

According to our sages (Onkelos and Rashi), the word Passover has another meaning too: 'And He had compassion'. G‑d had compassion and did not kill the Jews in Egypt.

The question can be raised: Why was it necessary for G‑d to have compassion not to kill the Jews? Why did they deserve to be punished and needed G‑d's compassion to be spared?

Our Sages explain that compassion is an emotion which enables us to override our normal reactions to a situation. Compassion derives from an inner precinct of the soul; it is an expression of a transcendent force which can override even one's very correct sense of indignation.

When the Jewish people were ready to leave Egypt, they had so degenerated into the depths of Egyptian depravity, that G‑d's own attribute of justice - His very own law-and-order system demanded that the Jews be treated as harshly as their Egyptian counterparts.

And then a remarkable thing happened. G‑d passed over, not the homes of the Israelites, but, rather the very Divine institution of law-and-order, or as the Kabbalist’s put it, his own attribute of Gevurah - judgment. In spite of the law-and-order demand that the Israelites and the Egyptians be treated equally, G‑d's sense of compassion, i.e., a more sublime, transcendent G‑dly force, suppressed and overrode the existing system. And the Jews were spared.

Every Passover, we too can "pass over" - we too are given the spiritual potential to override our own established norms and modes of behavior. We might define ourselves by our natural tendencies. We act in a certain way because this is the way we are and this is the way we were created. The festival of Passover tells us, that we have the ability to transcend our own G‑d-given parameters. Even human nature, created by G‑d, can be altered, by utilizing the G‑d-given capacity to "pass-over".

In these very unique times, when we stand on the threshold of Redemption and await the imminent coming of Mashiach, we should prepare ourselves and the entire world to welcome Mashiach. People ask, "What does that mean for me?" "What should I do differently, now that I know that the Messianic Age is upon us?" "How should I prepare for Redemption?"

The answer to these queries is provided for in the festival of Passover. Redemption is more than just freedom from persecution and oppression. Freedom from tyranny is something we have already witnessed in the last few years when the last despotic empire - the Soviet Union - collapsed, giving Jews the right to be Jews there and to emigrate to Israel. We have already been given a taste of that physical dimension of Redemption and we are grateful to G‑d for it.

Now, the emphasis must be placed on the spiritual dimension of Redemption, where we strive to "pass-over" ourselves and do more than our own nature dictates we should do.

Now is the time for us to search within and find the innermost and most profound core of our soul; reveal it, allow it to override the limits of our outer personality. For example, if we are not so charitable, we have the potential to override that natural inhibition. If we are lethargic or lazy, we can find the fountain of energy deep down, which, when elicited, will pass-over our ingrained tendencies. If we struggle with temptation, we should realize that we have the power to "pass-over" our own weaknesses.

This passing-over spirit within us, this self-transcendent power represents the spark of Mashiach. As the Ba'al Shem Tov taught us, every one of us possesses this spark. The Jewish belief of Mashiach is that he will be a great leader whose teaching and inspiration directs us inwardly to discover our "override" capacity.

And then it is up to us to respond to Mashiach’s initiative and activate this spark. Indeed, the closer we are to the Messianic age, the more accessible this spark is to us. And, with the collective "passing-over" energy we all possess and activate, Mashiach will transform our normal world into a world of freedom and peace; a world where its infinite potential can be realized, in spite of its inherent limitations.

When we observe Passover this year, we should stop and think about the composition of the name "Pass-over". And by "passing-over" our own parameters, we can actually set into motion a cosmic "passing-over" by G‑d of His system of exile, thereby ushering in the actual Redemption. May we see the realization of all this imminently and joyously.