"This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD-a lasting ordinance." - Exodus 12:14
The Torah portion for this week is Bo, which means "come," from Exodus 10:1-13:16, and the Haftorah is from Jeremiah 46:13-28.
In this week's Torah portion, we are in the middle of the most important story in Jewish history. The Exodus isn't just another story among the many that make up our past. It is the story that defined us as a nation and determined the course of world history for millennia to come.
Not surprisingly, remembering the story of the Exodus has become a focal point in Judaism. As we are commanded in this week's reading, we commemorate the events of the Exodus every year during the holiday of Passover. In addition, in the very first commandment of the 10 Commandments, God refers to Himself as the God Who brought us out of Egypt. We remember the Exodus every week on the Sabbath when we make the special blessing on the wine at the start of the Sabbath meal. Moreover, the story is recalled daily when men put on tefillin, phylacteries, as well as in our daily prayers, which all include references to the Exodus story.
The Exodus story that we are reading this week is something that we are meant to remember every single day of our lives.
Of course, the question that we have to ask is: Why? Why that story and not any other biblical stories? And why every single day?
The Jewish sages teach that we learn from the Exodus story, a story of openly evident miracles and wonders, how God runs the world daily through concealed miracles and wonders. Maimonides, a 12th century rabbi, didn't mince his words. He wrote, "A person who doesn't believe that all that we do and that everything that happens to us is a miracle, has no place with the God of Israel." Believing in miracles - ones that happen to us every single day - is so very important and that is why we have to remind ourselves daily.
Not only is believing in miracles important, it's also difficult. When we look at the superficial world and things seem impossible, it's not always easy to muster up authentic faith and belief that God can change things. Let's be honest; when things look bad, scary, or dangerous, stepping out in faith is no easy thing. The sages teach that even on the eve of the Exodus, the Israelites were still doubtful. Can it really happen? Will God really redeem us? Are miracles on such a grand scale really possible?
This is why we have to remind ourselves every day what the Israelites learned on that fateful night - that, yes, God does amazing miracles. Just as He did then, He does so even now. Every day, all through the day, we can see the hand of God moving the world in miraculous ways. A person should never turn to despair or give up hope. Salvation can come in a moment. Even today.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President