The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills. – Song of Solomon 2:8, ESV
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
On Passover, the Jewish tradition is to read the Song of Solomon. Why? One connection is with the Song of the Sea that the Israelites sang after experiencing the parting of the sea. The Song of Solomon relates to the unbounding joy felt by the Israelites on that particular occasion, which caused them to burst into song. However, there is another connection between the reading and the holiday. The Song of Solomon is a book about love, and at its core, the story of Passover is a story of love. It’s the love story of God and His people.
Even the name of the holiday points to the love element of the Passover story. In Hebrew, the holiday is called Pesach, taken from the verse that speaks about how God passed over the homes of the Israelites when He carried out the plague that killed every Egyptian’s firstborn son: “I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). However, while Pesach is commonly defined as “pass over,” a more accurate translation is that God would “skip over” or “leap over” the homes of the Israelites. The Jewish sages connect this to the verse from Song of Solomon: “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills.”
The sages offer the following explanation: When Moses came to the Jewish people and said, “This month you will be redeemed,” they responded, “How can we leave when all of Egypt is filled with our idol worship?” Moses answered, “Since God desires to redeem you, He will not look at your idol worship. Rather, He is leaping over the mountains.” The Israelites said to him, “How can we be redeemed when only 210 years have passed out of the 400 years of the decree of slavery?” Moses said, “Since God desires to redeem you, He will not look at your calculations. Rather, He is leaping over the mountains.”
Friends, the celebration of Passover is also the celebration of God’s love for us. His love is so great that he skips over our shortcomings and passes over strict judgment. The foundation of our relationship with God is unconditional love.
So many people falter in their walk with God because they feel unworthy or think that God is mad at them because of their sins. But the truth is that God’s love for us is unwavering. There are times when we must be held accountable for our actions, but that doesn’t diminish His love for us. God desires us even when we act undesirably. He wants us even when we don’t do what He wants. God loves us even when we turn away from Him. God loves us unconditionally. During this holy season for Christians and Jews, let’s celebrate that fact and love Him in return.