Pesah: A new beginning


The special maftir reading for Shabbat HaHodesh comes from the moment when the Israelites are in the midst of the plagues in Egypt, still not sure whether to believe that redemption is really at hand.  God asks Moses to speak to them and say, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first for you of the months of the year” (Exodus 12:1).  God strives to impress upon the people that the Exodus from Egypt is not merely one event along a timeline.  The freeing of the slaves re-sets the clock of creation.  It creates a new beginning for a new people, a people now free to set about the work of re-setting human relationships, just as the natural world re-sets itself in the spring with new growth coming from what appeared to be dead.  As we prepare for Pesah, we need to ask ourselves how we can make our celebration a new beginning for us.  How can we re-set the relationships we have with other people and groups?  How can we free ourselves to pursue the goals of freedom, justice, and equity for all people that are enshrined in Torah?  As important as our Pesah cleaning and material preparations are, may we devote equal time to promoting renewal in ourselves and in our world as we move toward the Festival of Freedom.