“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” — Exodus 12:13
This month marks one of the most ancient and holiest of Jewish celebrations, Pesach, or Passover. It is a celebration of God’s redemption of His people, Israel, from bondage, and freedom is a theme underlying the celebration. Please enjoy this collection of timeless devotions from my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, on this sacred observance. – Yael Eckstein, President
Sometimes we feel that God has “skipped” over us. We feel as if God forgot about us when He was giving out blessings. Or He passed over some of us when He was giving others their spouses. Maybe God forgot about us when He was blessing others with children. Or, maybe God passed over us when He was distributing sustenance.
I love the following teaching on the verse from which Passover gets its name. The verse reads: “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The Jewish sages teach that God continues to pass over us each and every day, but not in a bad way, rather in the best way possible. God skips over our mistakes. He passes over our transgressions. He overlooks so many of our shortcomings, preferring mercy over strict judgment.
The Talmud teaches that God prays every day. How do we know this? Because in Isaiah 56:7, God makes reference to “my house of prayer.” The Jewish translation is slightly different and reads: “the house of my prayer.” From here, the sages learn that God prays. And what is God’s prayer? “May it be my will that my mercy conquer my anger, my mercy be revealed in my attributes, that I treat my children with the attribute of compassion, and I go for them beyond the bounds of strict justice.” God’s prayer is that He skip over pure justice and treat us with kindness, compassion, and mercy.
However, the teaching on the verse doesn’t stop here. God passes over our transgressions, but “I see the blood.” God doesn’t forget our suffering for even a minute. He sees our blood, sweat, and tears that have poured out from all our hardships. He knows exactly where we struggle and He hasn’t passed over our pain. Rather, God looks to our suffering as a source of merit so that with proper faith and obedience, we can be redeemed.
This Passover, remember that God runs the world with abundant mercy. The scales are tipped heavily in our favor. While God overlooks much of what should lead to punishment, He focuses on our achievements. That’s a good lesson for how we should treat ourselves as well. If we focus on where we go wrong, we might get stuck in the muck. But if we “pass over” our mistakes – which are in the past anyway – and focus on our victories, we will be inspired to continue on a virtuous path. Let’s make amends for the past where we must, but then let’s look forward and celebrate moving onward.