Is there an Eighth Day of Pesach?
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We sometimes follow tradition blindly. The Eighth day of Pesach says it all. in the Torah there is no eighth day of Pesach only seven, so why do we all celebrate it? Our sages can be overzealous for God but does the Bore Olam need our adulation? He wants us to serve Him by which He means that we are to serve our neighbor, our community. He doesn’t need anything from us. Each of us has a purpose, something special to give. It is sad that so few people have that understanding perhaps because we are living a “give-me” generation, an age of entitlement. We read in Deut: 14 22-29 about the special giving at the end of every three where we were to bring all our tithes to a special place. It was for the Levite, the foreigner and for the widow, in other words for those who have less. Many of us are tied to our possessions; they own us instead of us owning them. It is sad that we constantly struggle with everything and live in a state of fear.
Why is Pesach so important to us? It speaks to us about deliverance, but there are many types of deliverance; more difficult than physical deliverance is spiritual deliverance. There are multimillionaires who are trapped in a prison of their making while others who have very little are happy. Let’s ask ourselves, upon whom do we depend? We must be careful not to fall in the trap of religious observances. The greatest gift we have been given by the Creator is Free Will, the capability to think for ourselves. We are living in a time when we are forced to be theological, politically, and sociologically correct. Certain groups are untouchable. For the Creator, no one is untouchable, and Truth needs to be told.
Deut. tells us “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof, justice, justice, you must pursue” no matter what, but most of us are afraid to say anything. They have come up with a term “Islamophobia”. We can no longer say anything about Radical Islam who are teaching murder and hatred. They are responsible for the death and enslavement of countless lives around the world yet at the UN very few stand up to say a word except to condemn Israel. When we speak out, we are accused of being racist and spreading hate. I wonder why people who belong to that religion, the ones who supposedly say that it is a religion of peace, do not condemn the fanatics. We don’t need to defend evil. We do not need to follow rules and regulations of man, which are replacing the principles of God’s Torah. It is now all right to accept every type of behavior if it is accepted by the majority. When we do, it considered hate speech. When we speak up against the doctrines of religious people and we ask, where does it say that in the Torah, we are called a rebel, a heretic.
The question is, “have we been liberated?” Are we free? Or are we worse than ever? Pesach represents freedom. The Creator is against slavery where we surrender our will to others. He never asked that we surrender our will to Him; He asked that we go to Him willingly. If we don’t, He doesn’t force us unlike the religions who destroy us if we don’t believe like them. The Catholic and Christian religious are the most prevalent yet most of the killing is done to these people around the world. Where are their leaders? No one speaks up against those who are killing their own people. They call us Jews cry-babies because we are constantly crying out against anti-Semitism. We know what it means to keep silent. We remember the Holocaust. When we remain silent, we give others the right to abuse us. It’s time we began to challenge others without getting into a fight.
The Creator spoke to Israel through Moshe Rabeinu. They had slave mentality and were not so keen on leaving. You would be surprised at how many people today have slave mentality. They do what their master tells them. Sadly, young people get caught up in the latest fads instead of thinking for themselves. It’s not only them. How many of us put our personalities on the side and imitate others? Certain religions teach us to imitate this or that! Stop being a copy-cat and be the best of who you are. We need to allow the Creator to bring out the best in us so that we are serve others.
I know that I am swimming against the current. The Torah is alive, it’s a way of life, which we practice every day. It’s not about how or what we eat or sleep, but about what we do with our life to help others. The Jewish people are known for being the most generous people in the world. Being the smallest, they give more to the world per capita than any of the other richest countries. How much do the other wealthy countries give back? The US also gives more because of the influence of the Jewish population living there. They changed that mentality. Israel is the first responder when other countries have suffered a disaster. It’s not what we talk about, it’s what we do. It’s not to be following man-made rules but doing what is right.
A good tradition is what helps us to have a better relationship with Him but what is destroying that good relationship is when we do things by rote. When we go through the Siddur, if you can’t understand the Hebrew, read it in the language you can understand. Read what is being sung; don’t go through the motions. Every week we publish a blog but very few read it. I wonder why I expend so much energy. When we become so mechanical, we lose the relationship with living God. He didn’t make us robots; He wants us to come to Him willingly. How often do we show up on Shabbat or the Holidays, but our hearts are not in it? We need to be alive and be happy that we are here. The most important thing is now, and we need to live for now. Our children need to learn from our example, from basic things, not about the rules but about the meaning, the principles. We need to be free to apply the principles of the Torah to our lives.
Our sages added one extra day when we are outside Israel, in the diaspora. Our readings this Shabbat should have been from Acharei Mot since there is no 8th Day of Pesach. That is not found in the Torah. Adding an extra day to Pesach is being overzealous. God does not have an ego and does not need our adulation. The idea came from the time of our exile in Babylon where the greatest Hebrew schools were built. Their time was ahead of Jerusalem, so they added an extra day to be in sync with each other; however, what about us in West, we should start a day before. Now we continue blindly without understanding where the tradition began. I was once invited to a Pesach Seder and was asked to bring a dish to share. As a poor student all I had to offer was a bowl of rice which I humbly handed to the hostess. She cried out, “we are not supposed to eat rice on Passover!” and threw my rice in the garbage! I am Sephardic Jew and the only thing that we are not allowed to eat during Pesach is bread or anything with yeast, leaven. I had no knowledge of the Ashkenazi customs that dictate that nothing that rises can be eaten. The lady who invited me was a Gentile and was falling into the trap of religious fanaticism. This is the blind following the blind.
Our great Rabbi Yeshua was telling us. He was not against the people of Israel or the God of Israel. He like us are against organized religions. When we are called by God, it’s to serve, not to be served. Most of our politicians want adulation not to serve. Government employees whose salaries are paid by our taxes act as if they are gods. How often have I seen these “public servants” take their power to heart and make people suffer? They are treated worse than slaves. The Creator is not very happy with them. We live in a generation of entitlement as if they are owed something. When will we understand that it is more blessed to give than receive? May we understand our place, our purpose, our role; that our gatherings and our life is not an exercise in futility. When we do, we can grow in wisdom and knowledge that we are special in the eyes of God.