To our friends around the world!
In the collective consciousness of the Jewish people, the joyous family holiday of Passover is one of the greatest highlights of the year. The celebration of the seder, with the recitation of the haggada that recounts our forefathers' exodus from Egypt; the abstention from all leaven and the Biblical commandment to partake of matza and bitter herb...of all the sacred seasons of the L-rd which the Jewish people are instructed to observe, the Passover experience cuts through to the deepest chord of the Jewish soul and resonates with the words, "if you truly seek to be free, you must become My servants." True spiritual emancipation can only come about when each person succeeds in freeing himself from the shackles of his own evil inclination, represented by Pharoah of Egypt. The lesson of Egyptian bondage is that the only man who is truly free -- free from his own oppressive illusions, fear and self-deception -- is one who is completely subservient to G-d.
The festival of Passover is intrinsically bound up with the concept of the Holy Temple. As we have written in the preface to "The Temple Haggada":
"Many would indeed be surprised to learn that the Passover celebrated today by Jews the world over bears little resemblance to the Passover Festival which was celebrated during the golden age of Jewish scholarship -- the era of Jerusalem's Second Temple. This was the time when the holy city served as the spiritual center for a vast segment of mankind, Gentiles as well as Jews; the very name "Jerusalem" shone forth like a beacon to a world seeking spiritual meaning."
Tonight begins the observance of the Seventh Day of Passover. This is the night, one week after the Holy One, blessed be He, took the Israelites out of Egypt, that our forefathers crossed the Red Sea. As we have learned, our sages relate that when Israel left Egypt and came face to face with the Red Sea, the waters did not split until one man, Nachson the son of Aminadav, prince of the tribe of Judah, walked into the water as far as he could...until the water came up to his nostrils. Then he could go no further, and it was then, at that moment, that the sea split. When G-d saw that we had done all that we, as ordinary human beings, can possibly do, then and only then did He step in. For G-d makes miracles happen every day, but it is we who give those miracles the legs to stand on in this world.
There is no better symbol for the work of the Temple Institute, than the faith of Nachshon. For although many think that it will take nothing less than a miracle to rebuild the Holy Temple, those who have visited the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, or are familiar with its work, know that that miracle has begun. It is just as we learn from the actions of Israel at the sea: G-d grants miracles to the Jewish people only after we show Him our own willingness to be ready for Him; to dedicate every ounce of our being to fulfilling our obligations to Him in this world.
In the song that Moses and the children of Israel sang at the miraculous crossing of the sea this very night, we find direct reference to their prophetic revelation that the entire purpose of the great exodus from Egypt, and indeed, the entire purpose of Israel's entrance into the Land of Israel...was all for the sake of building the Holy Temple: "You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O L-rd, which You have made for You to dwell in; in the sanctuary, O L- rd, which Your hands have established." (Exodus 15:17)
We close with the words of the "musaf" prayer for the festivals:
"Bestow upon us, L-rd our G-d, the blessing of Your appointed festivals."
Rabbi Chaim Richman THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE JERUSALEM