Chol Hamoed Intermediate Days of Passover
Tonight there is no Torah portion read. We are in the Chol HaMoed days of Passover, which means the intermediate days. Two biblical holidays have intermediate days. Passover is one. What is the other? The answer is Sukkot. Both of these holidays extend for a full week. So tonight we are in the Shabbath of the intermediate days of Passover.
Many biblical scholars believe that Yeshua would have risen on the evening of the Sabbath of that Passover. Matthew 28:1. The first fruits of the resurrection. This could be the reason Ezekiel 37:1-14 is used as the Haf Torah reading today. It could have been chosen because of the inclusion of the first Jewish believers when the structure of the readings was being finalized.
However, tonight I would like to carry on with our discussion of freedom and how it ties into Passover and into our own lives. My assignment this week was for each of you to tell me what you think freedom means to you today?
I think our definition of freedom and its influence in our spiritual and physical lives must be broadened. G-d’s purpose of freeing the slaves from Egypt was that He would be their G-d. He wanted to have a relationship with them. The same goes for us when we are freed from sin. (Deut. 6:4, Exodus 6:7) His purpose was to have a connection with His creation, a connection that would bring His people to realize there was a G-d and He cared for them, a connection that would foster trust. In Deut. 11:10-11 G-d told the people that the Promised Land would not be like Egypt, a land that was predictable. The Nile rose and fell on a yearly cycle and because of that it required little trust on the Egyptians part. Israel, however, was a land that depended on the rain, the dew of heaven. Life would be different. It would require obedience and work. There would be times when uncertainty would come but He was still G-d. It required total trust in Him. We are not bound by cause and effect like the Nile River. Everything in our lives, everything that comes into our lives, is in G-d’s control. Nothing is beyond Him. We are not to despair.
All this brings me back to the word freedom. In the concentration camps of the Holocaust the Nazis took everything from the inmates in order to break them. However the one thing they could not take was the freedom of how to respond. The inmate still could choose how to respond, to give up and die or to hold on to life. For us also, between some incident that happens to us and our response there is a space. In that space we have the power to choose how we will respond. In that power lies our growth and our freedom in the L-rd. We did not have the freedom to choose the environment we were born into, or maybe even the conditions we find ourselves in right now but we always have the freedom to choose how we respond.
We often make the mistake of blaming someone else or circumstances for our lives, parents, boss, spouse, economy, the list goes on.
In reality we are the only ones responsible for the success or failure in our lives. G-d has given us the freedom to choose, to rise above what is and stretch toward what can be. Passover shows us this is real freedom, the freedom to live each moment to its very fullest, to be exactly what He created us to be no matter what. Choose life, an abundant life, one filled with what G-d has given us – Freedom.