Lots of Hope

Imagine a desperate man making his way on foot through a desert.  Exhausted and thirsty beyond endurance he keeps driving himself forward, day by day, in the hope of reaching an oasis.  Eventually, he can go no further and drops hopelessly to the hot sand.  Rescuers discover his body only a half day’s walk from a large oasis. 

Let’s rewind and replay the story with the same man.   Except in this version, he knows exactly where the oasis is located.  In this account, when he reaches the place where he gave up and died in the first story, he is exactly as exhausted and just as madly thirsty.  Yet he does not give up and die.  Why?  Because he knows that redemption lies just over the next sand dune, a half-day away.  Knowing—not hoping or believing, but knowing—that redemption is near endows us with superhuman powers.  The mere knowledge that the oasis is near endowed this man with the power to overcome the heat and thirst.

It is hard to build a business.  Urgent need for capital can entirely wear down even the hardiest entrepreneur.  Gnawing worry morphs into fear that he won’t find the funds, diminishing the effectiveness of most business professionals in this unenviable position.

Compare that situation with an entrepreneur who is grappling with precisely the same pressures except that he knows that his next round of financing is happening in three weeks’ time.  The knowledge that redemption is round the corner endows this human with astonishing powers.

Then there is the married couple struggling to hold their marriage together. One day he is doing his best while she feels it all to be futile; another day she is willing to move mountains in the hope of saving her marriage while he has emotionally checked out. As any counselor knows, the odds of a successful salvage are slim.

Now imagine that each is shown a future vision of their marriage so happy and solid that all recollection of past suffering has been expunged.  Just the knowledge that they will be joyfully reconciled makes the hard repair work so much easier to accomplish. 

This is one searing message of Passover. Yet, while Passover in the book of Exodus speaks of national redemption, we have already seen an example in Genesis of personal redemption. Let me offer a brief example of how ancient Jewish wisdom combines seemingly unrelated incidents to overwhelm us with a Technicolor extravaganza of Truth.

Here are the first two uses of an extremely rare word in Scripture—MiTMaMeHa, meaning delaying or lingering:

And he [Lot] lingered…
(Genesis 19:16)

…and they [the Israelites] were not able to linger…
(Exodus 12:39)

The word Matzoh is also  common to the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt and Lot’s rescue from S’dom:

…and he made them a feast and he baked Matzoh…
(Genesis 19:3)

…and with Matzoh on bitter herbs they ate it.
(Exodus 12:8)

Let’s look at two more examples of the strong similarities that unite the account of the Israelites escaping from a doomed Egypt to safe refuge, and the account describing Lot and his daughters escaping from a doomed S’dom to safe refuge:

And God rained upon S’dom and Amorah sulfur and fire…
(Genesis 19:24)

…and God rained hail upon the land of Egypt.
(Exodus 9:23)

Ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that the hail had a fiery center.

Finally, the nation of Israel emerged from the Hebrews’ rescue out of Egypt and the nations of Amon and Moab emerged from Lot and his daughters’ rescue from S’dom.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explores the linkage. Passover teaches that not only is redemption available for one man and his family, but even on a national level, God can bring redemption where no hope exists.

Today, it is not only one family or one nation that is facing uncertainty, but many families and many nations. As humans, we can’t know for sure what lies ahead, but the next best thing is to know that a brighter future is possible. One of the great gifts that God gives His faithful is the eternal vision of tomorrow’s redemption no matter how dark it may look today.  Knowing this in our heads and believing it deep in our hearts makes today’s journey bearable.

Before we close our store on Wednesday evening through nightfall on Saturday for the opening days of Passover, there is still an opportunity to acquire the How to Lead Your Own Seder download resource. I did not initially plan this teaching for this year but the events of the day propelled exactly that.  Our amazing crew worked tirelessly to get it out, and we hope that it provides a blueprint of hope and optimism in these (temporarily) dark and lonely days.

The Seder observance can shine a bright light onto tomorrow for everyone. Using our resource, you and your family can make your own Seder and learn how to transform an ancient ritual into an inoculation against stagnation in all areas of life that really matter.

12 thoughts on “Lots of Hope”

  1. Dear Rabbi and Susan, I have been following you for years.Your Thought Tools are pearls.I ordered the Seder, because I always felt that it must be most meaningful. I was raised a Catholic; now a Baptist, but really all I know is that God loves me, and guides me to whatever means will draw me closer to Him. I read Vol 1 and it is beautiful. Look forward to delving into the other 2 volumes during this time of self isolation. And how appropriate that it is Passover, Easter to Christians, and really by whatever name, it is a time of remembrance, a renewing of my commitment to my Creator and a celebration of God’s love for me. God bless you and your family, and I thank Him that I have a Rabbi!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Virginia–
      Your beautiful words are so encouraging to us; thank you.
      Blessings to you

  2. Rabbi, your lessons are full of wisdom and truth. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I hope to be wise one day like King Solomon! Hopefully though without some of Solomon’s faults! I have enough faults of my own! It is a sad thing, but I am unable to cleanse my mind and heart of all sin. I see myself all too clearly and it saddens me. God bless you for your good works! I hope something good can come from this Pandemic. Perhaps it will turn many people back to God and bring repentance. I pray for this.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thanks for your bright letter, George John,
      They say that it is an ill wind that blows no good at all.
      Surely there will be positive effects also from this epidemic and all the suffering it is causing.

  3. Thank you for your message of hope and the Creators
    Mercy. There seems to be a parallel between Biblical suffering when people turn against God and New York today
    Recall last March NY state approved abortion up to the time of birth. Gov. Cumo through a large celebration. One year later NY State under the same Gov. Cumo, leads America in suffering and death from the covid19
    When leaders screw up the people pay
    I wonder what would happen if the leadership repented

  4. Thank you for all you do. Your words during this challenging time have greatly helped me and my family. God bless you and keep you safe!

  5. Hag Samaach. I type and recall a hymn line used in the times of providing equality in 60’s. And at the time, I am so young, I can’t remember now the year! Yet there seen is Moses and Joshua!
    “Keep on walkin, keep on talkin, marchin to the frreedom land!”
    Reference clearly from the Tanak, which I knew not too much about at the time,of course . Why keep the custom and what is found with the YA’D! Goofy . I get tears remembering. The ouch! Too wonderful. Barakoteem. .

  6. Shalom Dear Rabbi Lapin, thank you for this encouragement. It is our privilege to pray for you & yours each day.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you Paul
      We receive your good wishes with appreciation.

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