On April 28, 2021, pro baseball player Bryce Harper stepped into the batter’s box and was hit in the face by a 97-mile-per-hour fastball.

He crumpled to the ground, and after a few scary moments, walked off the field.

Seven months later, at the conclusion of the season, the Most Valuable Player of the league was announced: Bryce Harper.

After getting hit in the face and missing the next few games, one can only imagine how frightening it must have been to step back into the batter’s box. Just the thought of that piece of cork coming at you with such velocity can send shivers down the spine. But somehow he summoned the courage to do so, and apparently, with smashing success.

But can everyone do this? What if you get smacked in the face with a proverbial fastball and are too scared to even step back into the batting cage of life? When life smacks you down and you’re feeling unable to step in to take a swing, how can you become the next MVP?


The final plague that broke the Egyptians and set the Exodus in motion was the death of the firstborn. On that fateful night, Moses instructed the Jewish people to prepare the Paschal Lamb and to stay indoors the entire evening. “Paint the doors of your homes with the blood of the sacrifice,” Moses told them, and then:

G‑d will pass to smite the Egyptians, and He will see the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, and the G‑d will pass over the entrance, and He will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses to smite [you].1

And thus, the holiday of Passover was born.

But why is this the moment we remember for eternity? The Exodus narrative is full of miraculous and dramatic moments, so if we’re looking for holiday names, why this particular moment? Yes, there are other names for this holiday, like “Festival of Freedom” or “Festival of the Matzot,” so how did “Passover,” or Pesach in Hebrew, earn the medal for all time?

Making an Entranceway

Passover is the name of choice because it captures the true theme of the holiday.

To explain, we’re going to take a detour to a beautiful Midrashic statement in which G‑d tells the Jewish people:

Make an entranceway for me the size of a needle's eye, and I will open it for you like the doorways of a palace.2

The Midrash refers to a Jew seeking to turn to G‑d, whether after spending time apart due to sin or apathy, or simply a Jew’s desire to get ever closer to his or her Creator. G‑d tells them, “Make just a small effort, however small it is. If you do that, I will help you do the rest.”

You see, G‑d is always willing to help us. But the way it works is that you must take the initiative. It need not be something huge, but it must be something. As soon as you do that, G‑d pulls you up, lifting you past any benchmark you could have reached on your own.

This is a comforting thought—for most. The problem in Egypt was that the people weren’t even capable of that little bit. They desperately needed G‑d’s help, but they were sadly unable to make even the smallest effort to do anything about it.

This reality was true on both the physical and spiritual level.

In the literal sense, the people were simply exhausted. When Moses first came to them with tidings from G‑d that redemption was on the way, the Torah tells us that they didn’t listen for they were “out of breath from the hard work.” This is a profound psychological prison, in which the slave is so deep into his oppression that he’s no longer capable of even contemplating freedom. Even the hopes and dreams are gone, leaving a shell of a human too deep in bondage to consider freedom.

And from a spiritual perspective, the Zohar tells us that the people had sunk to the 49th of the “50 gates of impurity.” After centuries in that depraved land and so much suffering, they had nearly forgotten their identity and had even stooped to idolatry.

All in all, our ancestors in Egypt were in no position to do anything to better their own situation. They were unable to follow the classic rule of “You make the first move.”

So what happened? How did they end up leaving?

G‑d Passes Over the Entranceway

This is the deeper meaning of Passover. The Hebrew word for “entrance” in the verse, “And G‑d will pass over the entrance” is the same word for “entranceway” used in the Midrash in which G‑d declares that we must make the first effort.

So, when the Torah tells us that on Passover night, “G‑d will pass over the entrance,” what that means is that when it came time for Exodus, G‑d made a dispensation, and said, “This time, I’ll forgive even the need for a small entrance. I’ll pass over that, too.”

In other words, G‑d did all the heavy lifting, from A to Z. He required the people to do nothing. Instead, G‑d reached out and whisked them away from the physical fatigue and their spiritual abyss. They didn’t deserve it, they didn’t do even the smallest bit, yet G‑d did it for them anyway.

And that’s why Passover is the name—because it highlights just how much G‑d loves us and will ultimately do anything for us.

Your Passover Moment

So it is with us. Of course, the right way to do things is to try, to do something. If you want to improve your life—physically, emotionally mentally, spiritually, or what have you—you should make a move. And then G‑d will do the rest.

That’s indeed how it should be. But sometimes you’re simply exhausted. You know your life could be better, and that you should be doing something about it, but the months and years have piled up and you feel trapped underneath the weight of it all. You can’t even make the first move.

Or perhaps you did something so egregiously wrong, you feel as if there’s really nothing you can do to right your ship. When someone else yells at his children or your coworker is nasty to her friend, they can take initiative and make things right again. But you? You feel as if you did something so terrible, you are now trapped, unable to do even the smallest thing in repair.

So is all lost? Are you destined to fall further and deeper into the abyss?

No way! G‑d is big and benevolent. There’s a “Passover moment” in store for you yet. Believe in Him, pray to Him, and believe in yourself that come what may, all is not lost.

Perhaps you don’t deserve it, but neither did our fathers in Egypt—and G‑d was there for them. He’ll be there for you, too.3