The Dichotomy of a Jew
As we celebrate the birthday of our nation on Passover, we are annually confronted with the opportunity to refresh, refocus and rethink our unique role as a member of the "Chosen people".
As with any high-powered position, to succeed in fulfilling the task one must face difficult challenges. As a wise man once said, "If it’s too easy, you're probably not doing a good job". As a nation, the Jewish People have had no shortage of challenges. But individually, there is also a specific challenge that we need to face daily. One that keeps us focused on who we are. And on Passover every year we are commanded to internalize the mindset needed to face this challenge.
We are challenged to understand our exalted position while at the same time realize its frailty. To be humble and proud at the same time. A seemingly paradoxical mindset to maintain, if at all even possible. On one hand we must realize that we were handpicked by the King of the universe for the most important job of teaching and leading mankind. On the other hand we are constantly reminded that we are nothing but flesh and blood like any other creature, and without
This mindset was in fact portrayed to us right from the onset. The Midrash Rabba, at the beginning of Bamidbar, explains that the Torah was given to the Jewish People with "aish u’mayim" — fire and water. Mayim, water, represents humility, as Chazal explain: "Just as water leaves a higher level and goes to a lower level, so too the words of Torah are held only by one who is humble.” Aish which means fire, constantly ascends, representing the confidence and assuredness we are given to fulfill our mission and face any challenge along the way.
The Pesach Seder comes around yearly on our national birthday to help us with our task, and enables us to internalize this mindset. The Si’ach Yitzchak on the Haggadah notes that the various events of the Seder night are outright paradoxical. On one hand we are commanded to remind ourselves that we were slaves in Egypt, and on the other we must feel like free men who serve no one other than
The mitzvot of Seder night and even the contents of the Haggadah are filled with this “double message”. On one hand we are to feel like kings living with unlimited wealth, and on the other we must feel like embittered slaves with nothing of our own other than the barest of necessities. These two opposite mindsets are exactly what we need to internalize into our daily mindset needed to fulfill our year- round mission. We must never forget that we come from a very long line of leaders who have earned the honor of being part of
To live daily as a proud Jew who can fulfill the exalted mission of being a mentor to mankind, one must always remember our humble beginnings and the source of our power. May we all merit celebrating a “Chag Kasher v'Somayach”!