From Stress to Salvation: A Passover Story

April 12th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 29 comments

To the dismay of my parents and the bewilderment of my wife Susan’s parents, some years back we sailed our family from Los Angeles to Honolulu on our small sailboat. We spent nearly a year in preparation. Susan planned the meals for the entire voyage and wrote down where each item of food was stored, while I strengthened the vessel and polished my celestial navigation skills. We departed on the fourth of July and by mid-month we were about a thousand miles from the West Coast and the same distance from Hawaii.

That night, as usual, I measured our water supply and in an exhausted state from too many hours on watch mistakenly determined that we had only one more day’s water left. In a terrible panic, all I could think about was how would I keep my family alive till we reached Hawaii. In my mind that became the only problem.

However, in reality all the other challenges of crossing the Pacific in a small boat hadn’t vanished; they’d merely been eclipsed. I still had to locate the tiny speck of Oahu in a vast ocean; we still had to feed our crew, and we still had to avoid collisions. But in the middle of that dark and frightening night I could only think about what we would drink.

Stress makes it easy to ignore all the other important parts of life. In the dark gloom of financial need, family relationships are easily sacrificed. We neglect physical exercise in the gnawing worry of want. Whether its source is health, finances, family or something else, stress has a way of looming large enough to overwhelm all other parts of life. The annual Passover holyday offers a clue to coping.

The Egyptians enslaved and oppressed the Jews. You would have thought that God would get them out of Egypt as quickly as possible. Yet first, each Israelite family was to take a lamb, roast it and prepare for the first Seder. You’d have expected a chorus of protest from the Israelites: “C’mon God, get us out of here—there’ll be plenty of time for lamb barbecues once we’re in the desert.”

Instead, they first had to sit down for the formal Passover meal, each family with its father at the table. Why couldn’t this family celebration have been postponed? Furthermore God instructed the Israelites to go and gather all the money owed them by the Egyptians. That had to take quite some time. Yet no Israelite is recorded to have said, “Forget about the money, God, just get us out of this Egyptian hell-hole.”

In order for the big problem of slavery and oppression to be solved, we first had to address smaller problems like religious ritual, family affirmation, and yes, money. During centuries in Egypt, just surviving put people under so much pressure that families fell apart, finances fell apart and they seldom connected with God through religious practice.

God’s Passover statement was, “Look, I’ll get you out of here but you need to do your part too—first recapture all the important aspects of your life which you’ve neglected. Fathers get back to building your families, reconnect with God, and focus on the finances.”

If you have a big problem, keep on the program with the other stuff. Take care of your body and take care of your relationships with family and friends. Keep your spiritual life healthy as you chip away at your financial challenges. Don’t let stress in one area eclipse the rest of your life. Solving money problems won’t be easier if you lose your health. Resolving family dilemmas won’t be easier if your finances go south. And nothing will be easier if you write-off your relationship with God.

Oh, and that water problem on the boat? Well, I remembered the ancient Jewish wisdom I have imparted here and realized that sacrificing sleep was going to leave me less capable of dealing with the problem; not more. I prayed, and in the process of moving my mind away from the problem onto my relationship with God I recalled that every can of fruit and vegetables on board contained some liquid. That already sent me to bed with an easier mind.

When I awoke I discovered that I had measured the water level incorrectly and we had plenty of water after all. When tackled as part of the bigger picture, some problems even vanish.

While some of our resources focus more on one area than another, we always have family, friendship, faith and fortune in mind when we teach. As we celebrate Passover, we offer the chance for you to get all our resources in one big Library Pack (with some extras in the Library Pack PLUS) at 15% off the always discounted price. Just enter the promo code PASSOVER at check out. You still get FREE shipping in the continental U.S.! It’s a great opportunity to fill in the gaps in your library, stock up for gifts and make your own plan for improving all areas of your life.

                                                                                                                                               First published April, 2009

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29 comments

Darrin says:

Wow wonderful, thought provoking, inspiring, good material to think about our mindset, i just admire jewish wisdom, a man needs to take control of his entire being n family.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you Darrin–
Though there were those naysayers who predicted we’d lose our way and end up in New Zealand which all would agree doesn’t quite fit the model of responsible navigation not to mention taking care of family
Cordially
RDL

Alla Kuehn says:

Thank you, very insightful, and the importance of our source and focus!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you for writing Alla-
Stay stress free always!
Cordially
RDL

Timothy Mauch says:

I enjoyed your sea-story. I’m probably not the first to say this: Build a solar still.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Right Timothy–
I did play around with a solar still before the trip and discovered that the rate at which they produce drinkable water is so slow as to be all but useless since we were eight people on the boat. Wouldn’t have done us much good. However, I did plumb the deck drains to be able to send rain water into our water tanks and that worked pretty well.
Cordially
RDL

Meredith Flautt, Jr. says:

Recently Christianity Today published an article written by a Jew that indicated his disapproval of Christians celebrating the Jewish Passover Seder. What are your thoughts?

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Hello Meredith-
Yes, I saw the article to which you refer as well as a couple of others on the topic that CT has published during the past couple of years. I think it is think-skinned and short-sighted for those Jews to protest Christians celebrating the Seder. I get a real kick when I see Christians blowing the shofar, or wearing a talit and kipah and anything else including a Seder that stresses the alliances between the twin civilizations of the Bible, Judaism and Christianity. I wish that all Jews would observe Jewish ritual as faithfully as many Christians do. A Seder brings into sharper focus the vision of hope and redemption that we all need in order to live optimistically and it does so for everyone who participates regardless of background.
Cordially
RDL

Miller says:

Thank you, Rabbi Lapin, very applicable! As a side note, your boating stories are awakening a deep desire to explore and engage this pastime. Maybe someday I’ll see you out on the High Seas!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Miller–
we started boating when we got married because we wanted to do something as a family that the children would enjoy (they still do!!!) and which would make it easier for a family with young kids to travel and also keep kosher in the food department. Boating fit the bill. To this day, many of our children still enjoy joining us on our maritime adventures in British Columbia
hope you follow suite and that it adds as much to your life as it has to ours.
Cordially
RDL

Lynn Perrizo says:

Worry! What a destructive thing it is.
You have often mentioned your trip to Hawaii on your boat with your family and I would love to hear more about that trip. Have you ever written anything on it other than mentioning it occasionally? I’m sure there were many lessons you learned. How did your children react and what are their memories? What are Susan’s favorite recollections? I’m sure there were many teachable moments during the trip! I would love to hear the tale!
Hope your Passover was blessed.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Lynn–
It takes enormous will power carefully cultivated over years to be able to banish worry. We often talk of our trans-Pacific sailing adventure but have not written much on it. It was a wonderful experience and we each cherish our own favorite memories. Mine was arriving at Diamond Head right on schedule after not having seen land for 22 days. (Without a GPS–our Magnavox unit broke before we were out of sight of California!)
Cordially
RDL

Gene Shipp says:

You answered my question Rabbi. And congratulations on grasping the principles of navigation and flexing your brain in the midst of stress.

I have suffered under worry and strained all of my adult life to rid myself of the nagging dead weight. Trouble is I am excellent at recognizing when others are riding that downward spiral but I am not so quick to derail myself from worrying.

Thank you Rabbi and Susan Lapin for making all of this available. What a wondrous love our God and Jesus have for us if they make your ministry available to teach us how much God and Jesus love us.

I love looking at Jesus’ face. You probably have seen the rendering of it by Akiane Kramarik. I might have butchered her last name.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks for writing Gene,
and thanks for your kind words.
We all find it easier to spot other’s weaknesses and prescribe solutions for them than we find it to move ourselves upwards onto exciting new plateaus of achievement.
But we persevere,
Cordially
RDL

gail jo says:

I love how you teach. Your depth and focus on the important parts of life is written so well. I am a Christian and find the Old Testament very rich with truths and what God has said there is not to be considered second to any truths. Thank you, Rabbi Lapin.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Gail Jo-
Thanks for your kind words.
I agree with you about the timeless truths found in the Torah
Cordially
RDL

Jennifer Conner says:

Thank you so very much for this. Very timely for this season in my life.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

So happy to hear that the message is timely for your life Jennifer–
we are always so happy when we hear that we have been useful
Cordially
RDL

Sara Shenk says:

Thank you for sharing a personal experience to go along with the principle being taught. I too so much enjoy the Jewish wisdom that you share.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you for writing Sara–
We enjoy sharing some of our personal stories and if it clarifies the principle so much the better.
Cordially
RDL

ROBIN D RUSH says:

Oh my goodness! I really needed to hear this today. Facing financial challenges, I’ve become totally focused on what to do and began to ignore everything else. I love watching your show and receiving these emails. Such refreshing wisdom.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

I hope this message blesses you Robin–
Right now, as I write, it is Passover and we focus on the message of Let My People/Me Go in terms of overcoming life’s challenges and escaping our own Egypts.
Cordially
RDL

What a wonderful time with the Rabbi! In fact,so timely and thought provoking. Above all, I am blessed and inspired. Very grateful!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you so much Anafo–
We so appreciate hearing from you
Cordially
RDL

Carl from South Carolina says:

Thank YOU for the figurative ball bat you bring to battle to solve physical problems……GOD continues to bless me and my family as I listen AND follow your teachings ( and my WIFEY).

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Blessings to you both, Carl from SC–
good to hear from you. Don’t forget to tell your wifey how lucky you know you are!
Cordially
RDL

H- says:

I just imploded when I read your reply. Hahaha awesome!

James Hoff says:

Thanks Rabbi for your story and teachings. I am enjoying it and its very helpful to me when I go through the same experience. The Truth has the power to set people free. Stay Blessed.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks James
I am deeply gratified to know that our work is helpful to you when you undergo these challenges.
Cordially
RDL

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