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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Month of Nissan

Pesach’s “Open-Door” Policy

Everyone likes a nice intro! In fact, even our Chagim have an “intro” to set the mood for them before they begin. Pesach, I suggest, has Parshat HaChodesh. Always read before the month of Nisan. In essence, our calendar - & our history - begins again.
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It never fails: Whenever I speak somewhere, the moderator invariably opens the program by saying, "Here is a man who needs no introduction!"

But folks, everyone likes a nice intro! In fact, even our Chagim have an "intro" to set the mood for them before they begin. Consider: The High Holidays have the month of Elul, which prepares us for Teshuva & introspection. Purim has Ta’anit Esther; Tisha B’Av has the 3 Weeks. Pesach, I suggest, has Parshat HaChodesh. Always read before the month of Nisan, this last of the 4 special Parshiyot commands us to honor Nisan as month #1. In essence, our calendar - & our history - begins again.

This is the primary message of Pesach, is it not? No matter how gloomy things appear, no matter how hopeless the situation seems, we need never despair – there is always hope, always a second chance for us if we are ready to seize the moment & act upon it.

The Jews of Egypt had reached a dead end: They had sunk to a depth of behavior barely above the Egyptians; they were bitter, depressed & resigned to their fate. They did not even want to bring children into the world, knowing what awaited them. No slave, Chazal say, had ever escaped from Pharoah’s clutches. How would they, so downtrodden & despairing, find salvation?

But their pessimism proved unfounded. There’s always hope, because – like the moon – we are a resurgent people. We may wane, but we never disappear. From the most unlikely of places – Paro’s palace itself! – our hero would emerge. He would forsake the life of luxury to cast his lot with his enslaved brothers & evoke G-d’s saving hand. In short order, the tables would turn: We would become star players on history’s stage, while the mighty Egyptians would be reduced to a footnote in history.

Among all the holidays, only Pesach has a phenomenon called "Pesach Sheni." If you miss the 1st Pesach (for a valid reason) you can "make it up" a month later & bring the Korban Pesach in Iyar. Again, 2nd chances. All is not lost. There’s always an open door, if you really want in.

Pesach, then, is the Chag of "open-doors." Not just for Eliyahu, but for everyone - even the rebellious Rasha has a place at our Seder table! And so we open the Hagada by welcoming strangers to our Pesach celebration; indeed, close to 90% of the Jews in Israel attend a Seder each year! And now - Baruch Hashem, our societies are "opening" after more than a year of Corona closures.

So don’t be "plagued" by pessimism; have faith in G-d & "take a chance" – a second chance - to make it right.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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