One of the buzz words of our time is "transformation." Whether institutions or individuals, everyone seems to want to be transformed.
It is a worthwhile goal to seek the next step in unlocking the potential within. But I fear that what most of us mean when we say we want transformation is that we want something to happen in one fell swoop. We want a miracle. And our tradition teaches us not to rely on miracles.
When the Israelite slaves left Egypt their days of unrelenting servile labor came to an end. They were, in the technical sense, free. Yet no sooner had they left Egypt than they faced the challenge of being caught between Pharaoh’s advancing army and the sea that blocked their way. Moses called to God, and God responded, "Why are you crying to me? Speak to the Israelites and get going!” It was the first of many lessons to the former slaves that their transformation would not happen in a moment. In fact, the generation of the Exodus proved time and again that their bodies had been liberated, but they could not free the slave inside. They relied on the miracles and they never made it to the Promised Land.
It took a generation of proud and self-reliant Israelites to fulfill their own potential. They, too, were not without their faults, but they came to the Land and they lived there
It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about the Exodus, the synagogue, the nation or the individual. Transformation takes time — steps forward and steps back — until the transitions that are necessary become integrated into the soul. Those who believe our ancestors walked from Egypt to the seder table don’t understand that lesson. Freeing anything from the long-held presumptions of the past requires patience. Freedom is a process.
As you prepare your home for the upcoming festival of Pesach, pay attention to what changes take place as a result of your deliberate action. Your home will still be your home, but it will be transformed over a period of time. And when you sit down to seder — in your own home or at someone else’s table — you will be a person ready to hear the story of how transformation began.
My "fifth question" to you this year: are you ready to continue the process?
A happy and kosher Pesach to you and yours.
The Pesah Guide for 5770 is now available on the home page of the public section of RA website, www.rabbinicalassembly.org The guide has been extensively revised by the CJLS. We thank our colleagues, Barry Starr, who revised the document and Paul Plotkin, chair of the kashrut subcommittee and Ashira Konigsburg, secretary to the CJLS. We have a link to the guide on our website www.agudasachim-va.org, and it will also appear in our e-mail list serve each week until Passover.