From Redemption to Redemption

BY RABBI ELI TARAGIN

Redemption. It is the bond that binds the biblical festivals of Pesach and Shavuot with Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim. 

Between Pesach and Shavuot lies a significant journey, marking a continuum rather than two distinct holidays. Pesach initiates a process that unfolds and evolves, culminating on Shavuot. This period forms a unified progression, a continuous journey. While various explanations exist for this process, all agree that it constitutes a single unfolding narrative.

Rambam views Sefirat HaOmer as anticipation for Matan Torah, an anticipation that begins immediately after the first day of Pesach, the time of the Exodus. This teaches us that the entire purpose of the Exodus is to reach Matan Torah. Pesach marks the start of a process that culminates on Shavuot.

Ramban goes a step further, describing the period from Pesach to Shavuot as one protracted holiday. Just as Sukkot is considered a continuous celebration from the first day through Chol HaMoed until the eighth and final day, Ramban equates Pesach to the first day of Sukkot and Shavuot to the final “eighth” day. Ramban offers two explanations to support this comparison of Shavuot to the “eighth day” of Sukkot. Firstly, Shavuot is referred to as “Atzeret,” mirroring the term used for “Shemini Atzeret.” Secondly, it occurs following a count of seven weeks, akin to the seven days of Sukkot. In line with this perspective, Ramban dubs the transition period from Pesach to Shavuot, Sefirat HaOmer, as “Chol HaMoed,” stating, “And the days counted in the interim are likened to Chol HaMoed, from the first to the eighth day of the holiday.”

This prompts the question: What commonalities exist between Pesach and Shavuot? Ramban characterizes the book of Shemot as the narrative of “Exile and Redemption.” Though the Exodus marked a physical redemption, a deeper dimension of spirituality and holiness still had to be attained. As Ramban elucidates, it was only upon reaching Mount Sinai and erecting the Mishkan, with the Divine presence dwelling among them, that they could truly be considered redeemed. Considering this perspective, we can comprehend how Pesach and Shavuot constitute a singular, extended holiday of “Redemption” encompassing both physical and spiritual dimensions.

Rav Kook compares the transition from the physical redemption of Pesach to the spiritual redemption of Shavuot, linking them to the types of sacrifices offered on each holiday. In Egypt, the foundation of our nation was established, representing the fundamental life force – the “bestial soul.” This primal level is epitomized by the offering of the omer sacrifice on Pesach, composed of barley, a staple feed for animals. Conversely, on Shavuot, coinciding with Matan Torah, Am Yisrael ascended to a higher spiritual plane, symbolized by the offering of a sacrifice made from wheat. Wheat embodies knowledge and spirituality, reflecting the elevation of Am Yisrael’s consciousness and connection to the Divine.

The emergence of new holidays of redemption

In hindsight, we realize that these events were not merely historical occurrences of the distant past. Rather, they were predetermined moments meant to foreshadow the future redemption of Am Yisrael. Rabbi Yehoshua declares, “they were redeemed in Nissan and they will be redeemed in the future in Nissan.” This assertion draws from the Torah’s reference to “Leil Shimurim” – a night reserved for the future, a concept originating from the six days of creation. 

Rabbi Yehoshua’s statement yields two significant insights. Firstly, it suggests that the future redemption will also occur in Nissan. Secondly, it implies that these specific days were ordained for redemption since the dawn of creation.

Redemption unfolds: Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim

Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim stand out as remarkable “holidays of redemption,” occurring during the period between Pesach and Shavuot.

Even more striking is that these events unfolded in two stages. On Yom HaAtzmaut in 1948, the Declaration of Independence marked the establishment of the State of Israel, representing the physical stage of our nation’s resurgence. Subsequently, Yom Yerushalayim in 1967 witnessed the liberation of Jerusalem. This pivotal moment allowed us to return to the Kotel, symbolizing the spiritual elevation of Am Yisrael.

In those days; in our times

We find ourselves in an era fraught with formidable challenges, as external adversaries threaten the very existence of our nation. This is not merely a physical conflict. Our enemies, in the name of Islam, seek to dismantle our spirit and erase our Torah heritage.

In these trying times, it is incumbent upon us to unite, not only in defense of our physical safety but also in the reconstruction of our collective bonds and the advancement of the spiritual essence of Am Yisrael. Let us join hands to build the next level of our spiritual journey in a manner that is both profound and impactful. With the help of Hashem, may we swiftly merit the ultimate redemption in our lifetime.

 

Rabbi Eli Taragin is the CEO of Sulamot and Rabbi of Congregation Maayan Rivka. 

© 2024 World Mizrachi

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