Pesach (“Passover”): Transforming Blemishes into Divine Wonders

Summaries, Charts, Translations and aids for recorded lecture tapes by Rabbi Ginsburgh

Lecture No. E_015

 

The potential of every Jew is to express Divinity. The Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, means “constraints.” Constraints are the inability to fully express oneself. In Egypt, the Jewish people were constrained, and could not fully express Divinity. The redemption from the constraints of Egypt is the Divine power and the miracle of the holiday of Pesach.

 

The Compassionate Skip

 

According to the famous Biblical commentator, Rashi, the Hebrew word for “Passover,” Pesach, (pei, samech, chet)  has two meanings:

  1. To skip or leap over–God skipped over the homes of the Jews in Egypt during the smiting of the firstborn of Egypt
  2. Compassion–this skipping over was a great expression of God’s compassion on the Jewish people.

In the Torah, the word that is used for a “lame” person (who skips or limps) is pisayach. This word shares a root with Pesach, and is the source of Rashi’s explanation that Pesach means, “to skip.” The skipping of the lame person is considered a blemish and precludes a Priest from serving in the Holy Temple. Likewise, an animal that is a pisayach is considered blemished and unworthy to be brought as a sacrifice in the Temple.

 

The Transformative Power of Pesach

 

A beautiful image of the future redemption is written in Isaiah 35:6: “At that time (whenMashiach will come) the lame man will skip like a hart.”

In reality, we often observe or experience things that seem to be bad. The beauty of creation is in the Torah, which gives us the power to transform evil to good. Pesach has that transformative power. It can transform lameness to true and beautiful free skipping. The vision of the lame man skipping like a hart is a very important image to have in mind on Pesach.

 

The Future Skip

 

In Egypt, God skipped over the homes of the Jews.

In the Song of Songs, (2:8) however, we encounter a different type of skip. “The voice of my beloved is approaching; it skips over the mountains and leaps over the hills.” According to our Sages, the mountains represent the Patriarchs, while the hills represent the Matriarchs. In the merit and power of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, God skips over the mountains and hills andinto our hearts to bring us His revelation.

 

The Key to Penetrating the Heart

 

The constraints of Egypt are psychological barriers that cannot be penetrated. These psychological barriers, which exist at some level in all of humanity, leave us all lame. The Hebrew word for “compassion,” chemlah (chet, mem, lamed, hei), is a permutation for the Hebrew for “disease,” machalah (mem, chet, lamed, hei). When we connect to another with compassion, which is even deeper than the embrace of love, we redeem him from his psychological barriers. His diseased state of lameness is then transformed to the Messianic skipping of the hart.

The transformative energy of Pesach is the power to break free of all psychological barriers, and with compassion in our hearts, to leap all the way into the hearts of God, our spouse, family and friends.

 

Transforming the Blemishes to Miracles

 

The blemish that is juxtaposed consistently (6 times) with lameness in the Bible is blindness. These two conditions are interdependent.

The numerical value of “lame,” pisayach, is 148.

The numerical value of “blind,” iver, is 276.

Together, they equal 424, which is the numerical value of Mashiach ben David, Messiah the son of David.

Mashiach initially has the two all-inclusive blemishes of lameness and blindness. Additionally, he is described in the Bible as a leper. Leprosy is a disease of the skin. In Hebrew, the word for “skin” is or, (ayin, vav, reish) whose spelling is identical to the word for “blind,” iver. This is an allusion to the virtual “skin” covering the eyes of the blind to prevent him from seeing. Redemption depends on removing the barrier over our eyes to reveal the miracles around us. At the moment of his arrival, Mashiach, with God’s help, will be redeemed from and transform his blemishes to the miracles of the final redemption.

 

Pesach: The Revelation of Divine Wonders

 

In the book of Micah 7:15 God promises us “More than in the days of the redemption from Egypt, I will show you Divine wonders.” The power of Pesach is the potential to transform our constraints to Divine wonders. May we merit to relate to others with true compassion. In the merit of our compassion, may God have compassion on us and transform our lameness and blindness to the skip of the hart and the opening of our eyes to reveal the wonders of the arrival of the Mashiach.

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