There was once a wealthy chassid who was precise in his observance of the mitzvos and a serious student of the Torah. Despite his material and spiritual success, however, he had one desire. He wanted to see the prophet Elijah. He had tried various techniques suggested by different texts to bring about such a revelation, but to no avail. Once he poured his heart to his Rebbe, telling him about his wish.

“I have an idea for you,” suggested the Rebbe. “Go to the city of Kiev; arrive two days before Passover. On the outskirts of the city, on this-and-this street, lives Reb Mordechai, the tailor. Go to him and invite yourself for the holiday. Maybe in this way, your wish will be fulfilled.”

The chassid happily took his Rebbe’s advice and went to Kiev and found Reb Mordechai. Reb Mordechai was very happy to see him, but when he heard that he wanted to stay for the holiday, he explained: “Look, I’d love to have you, but I have seven children at home and I don’t have anything to feed them for the holiday. You’re welcome to stay, but....”

The chassid told Reb Mordechai not to worry. He would provide the family with all their holiday needs — which he did in a most generous manner.

It was a very nice and inspiring holiday, but the chassid’s wish remained unfilled. He heard many enlightening stories and words of Torah, but did not see Elijah.

Disappointed, he returned to his Rebbe and complained. His Rebbe, however, smiled and placed his hands on the chassid’s eyes. The chassid could see Reb Mordechai’s home. There he was with his children huddled around them. One of them asked: “Father, who was the guest who came for Passover and made our holiday?”

Reb Mordechai answered: “I don’t know. It must have been the prophet Elijah.”


There is a beautiful passage in the Book of Ezekiel describing the exodus from Egypt: “I passed by you and I saw you and behold your time was a time of love.” As our Sages commented: “The time for the fulfillment of the oath taken to Abraham to redeem his descendants had come.” From Above, it was clear that it was a moment of destiny. The appointed time for the end of the years of oppression and exile in Egypt had come and redemption was at hand.

There was one problem. The Jews were not worthy of deliverance. They were pagans, worshiping the same deities as their Egyptian masters. Was it fitting that G‑d work miracles for such people? Or to refer to the words of the afore-mentioned prophecy: “You were naked and bare,” as our Sages said, “naked of mitzvos,” lacking the merit to warrant G‑d’s mercy.

What did G‑d do? He gave the Jews two mitzvos: the Paschal sacrifice and the circumcision to show their devotion. The circumcision is a sign of the covenant between man and G‑d. Moreover, the covenant is in the flesh, and indeed, at the very place of man’s most intense desires. And bringing the Paschal sacrifice involved the ultimate self-sacrifice. The Jews were taking a lamb, the animal the Egyptians worshiped as a deity and setting it aside to be slaughtered. Moreover, they did so in a manner that would certainly attract the attention of the Egyptians, taking it four days before its slaughter and tying it to their bedposts.

Moshe had told Pharaoh: “If we were to slaughter the deity of the Egyptians in their sight, would they not stone us?” Nevertheless, without a second thought, the people were prepared to take that risk to show their commitment to G‑d.

Why was it necessary for the Jews to risk their lives? One of the fundamental principles in Judaism is that rewards are given “measure for measure.” The word Pesach — translated as Passover — means “jump” or “leap.” The miracles of the exodus represented a leap beyond the natural order, transcending the ordinary pattern of Divine revelation. To merit such miracles, the Jews had to show a corresponding level of commitment, Divine service that represented a true leap beyond self-concern.

“In every generation” — and more particularly, every day and every moment — “a person must see himself as if he himself left Egypt.” For Egypt is not merely a geographical location, and slavery is not merely a condition our people once suffered. The Hebrew term for Egypt, Mitzrayim, relates to the term meitzarim meaning “boundaries” and “limitations.” Leaving Egypt means going beyond one’s personal limitations. This should be done in a manner of Pesach, making a radical leap forward.

One of the easiest ways to step beyond oneself is to share with others. So too, our personal journey out of Egypt should not be a private experience; we should take others with us. For that reason, we celebrate the Passover holidays with our families — and with guests — involving as many people as possible in reliving the exodus.

Looking to the Horizon

Our Sages teach that Nissan is a month of redemption, not only for the past, but also for the future, for this month has a special potential to lead to the fulfillment of the prophecy: “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show [the people] wonders,” with the coming of Mashiach.

The process of redemption works from the microcosm to the macrocosm. Our personal experiences of redemption — the drastic leaps we take beyond our boundaries and limitations — lead to the collective redemption, the time will lead us all out of the boundaries and limitations of exile.

For just as there was an appointed time for the end of the Egyptian exile, there is an appointed time for the end of our present exile. Moreover, our Sages teach that we can hasten the coming of the Redemption by increasing our Divine service. Simply put, by stepping beyond our limitations and doing another deed of kindness to our fellow man or increasing the scope and depth of our Torah study and observance of mitzvos, we can motivate G‑d to bring the time of Mashiach’s coming closer.