The Time Is Now
Yael Eckstein | March 23, 2021
“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 week, beginning on Saturday, March 27, my family and I will join Jews around the world in celebrating the most important event in Jewish history — the Exodus and redemption of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt. In preparation for that biblically mandated observance, I offer you these devotions related to the Passover holiday.
When my father Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein was alive, he traveled to the former Soviet Union every winter in order to provide aid to elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors who had no one else to take care of them. Sometimes when he arrived at a home with a box full of food and winter supplies, my father would be heartbroken to find that the person had already passed away from the harsh winter conditions.
Upon his return, he always would say to me, “Yael, the second we have the opportunity to help, we do it right away. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year. The time to do it is now!” That has become a motto that my family and I try to live by every day.
This week, Jews around the world are celebrating Passover. This idea of not waiting to do something good is expressed in the very name and meaning of the holiday. At Passover, we wake up and realize the time is now.
The Time Is Now
Tradition teaches that when God wanted to take the Israelites out of Egypt, they wanted to wait just a little while so that they could properly prepare for the journey. This included allowing enough time for their bread to rise before baking. But God was not interested in waiting. God called the people to “pass over” the steps of preparing and packing and told them to go toward their freedom immediately.
Scripture tells us “The dough was without yeast because they … did not have time to prepare food for themselves” (Exodus 12:39). This is why we eat matzah bread every year on Passover, and why Passover is also referred to as the Festival of Unleavened Bread in the Scriptures. (See Exodus 12:17; 23:15).
The time to go was now. Not later. Not when the bread had fully risen. Not when they had packed up all their belongings and shut the doors to their houses. Now.
Consequently, in the Jewish tradition, Passover is the time of year for doing all the things we have been putting off because we weren’t quite ready. All year long, we talk about the changes we’d like to make and things we’d like to do. We want to become more patient or less angry. We want to make a major lifestyle change. We want to make more time in our crowded schedules for prayer and Bible study. All year long we talk, and we think, and we deliberate, and we plan.
On Passover, it’s time to pass over all the thinking and planning, and as the Nike slogan goes, just do it. The time is now.
What is it you have been waiting to do and putting off because the timing was not right? Consider how you might pass over what’s standing in your way, and move forward in faith.