Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Nissan 5760 - April 12, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Pesach: The Victory of Light and Truth

"Will the formula at last be found, by which love can coexist peaceably with justice, and freedom with law -- on this earth? Will light and truth finally gain genuine victories? Or will science and art debase themselves and increasingly become accomplices of sensualism and despiritualization? Will the mind of man bend ever lower under the yoke of sensuality?"

These were some of the questions posed about Pesach 142 years ago by HaRav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch (see "Nissan II," Collected Writings, Vol. I, p. 23). Speaking about the beginnings of his century (the nineteenth), HaRav Hirsch writes: ". . . people were convinced that brilliant eras of enlightenment and knowledge, of well-being and peace were approaching on the horizon of the nations."

Already two hundred years ago, the explosion of knowledge and the increasing mastery of humanity over nature led people to anticipate the benefits of this progress in these terms. Two hundred years later there has been tremendous progress in these areas, in everything from life expectancy to mastery of space and time with jet planes and cellular phones. Yet morally and spiritually these utopian goals seem no closer to realization. On the contrary, they do not even have the mass appeal that they had two centuries ago. So much of humanity has clearly been overwhelmed by the yoke of the souped-up and technologically-magnified sensuality that is so easily available today for an affordable price.

Love, justice, freedom and law are still on the lips of our leaders, but all too often they are hollow words that are filled with content that is quite the opposite of their promise.

As humanity is hell-bent on going fast forward to a hi-tech future, it forgets that in the areas of morality and spirituality, innovation is not the tool to use to search for the best. To make progress in those all-important fields which are the locus of all that is truly valuable in the universe, we can do no better than to restore the past.

It was on the night of Pesach that Hashem wrenched us out from under the yoke of Mitzrayim -- both the physical domination of our work and the sensual blandishments of the fleshpots of the country. We passed through the sea where it became so clear that this was not a singular occurrence but a reflection of a constant reality: Hashem yimloch le'olom vo'ed. We followed Hashem out into the desert, far from the distractions of civilization, where it was easy to see that the purpose of our gold is to help build a Mishkan for Hashem among us, and nothing else.

On the night of Pesach, we relive these ideas and refresh our commitment and understanding of what our real goals are. It is because of what we do and experience that night, that Hashem keeps us going. It is our commitment to Torah and mitzvos which forms our goals and supplies the meaning of everything that we do.

Ba'avur ze: it is when we are doing it and it is in front of us, that we can explain why Hashem saves us. A family united in the performance of mitzvos and discussing Torah is true love, justice, freedom and law, all combined in a small, one-night victory of light and truth.

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