Based on a Sicha (Talk) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Parshas Bo conveys the Mitzvah of the Korban Pesach (Paschal offering), a lamb to be taken on Nissan 10, guarded for four days in the house (actually tied to the bedpost!), shechted (slaughtered) on Nissan 14, and eaten roasted on the night of Nissan 15. Already an eyebrow-raising ritual, it jeopardized the Jews, as it meant sacrificing the furious’ Egyptian’s deity. This is why Moses insisted the Jews couldn’t sacrifice among the Mitzrim, for “lo yiskolonu – will they not stone us?!” When questioned by an Egyptian, Israelites were to admit the sheep was intended as a korban for Hashem, but they refused to be intimidated to serve G-d and carry out the Mitzvah before the Egyptians; their mesiras-nefesh (self-sacrifice) and shtarkeit (strength) brought the Geulah.
The entire content of the Torah, including all its stories, delivers a critical lesson for our generation; and whatever transpired in Geulas Mitzrayim will repeat in leading up to the Geulah Sheleima. “Kiyemei tzeischa mei’Eretz Mitzrayim Erenu nifla’os – As (the wonders) in the days when you left Egypt will I show you wonders (with the coming Redemption):” The cosmic tale of Exile and Redemption from Egypt set a precedent for today; whatever endorsed Redemption in the past is likewise the key for us in unlocking future Redemption.
The Mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel – loving one’s fellow Jew – is a foundation of the Torah and prerequisite to Redemption… and we need mesiras-nefesh and shtarkeit to carry it out too. We MUST share the beauty of Torah and Mitzvos with our fellow Jews, and speak to them about it – their heritage! Sometimes, though, we are hesitant due to external divides (e.g. age, social status, different levels of knowledge and observance) and a discouraging voice inside us. We are taunted and threatened by insecurity and imperfection, self-consciousness and fear of rejection. It’s a modern-day Pharaoh and Egypt, but we learn from our ancestors we aren’t subject to it, and are empowered to go beyond our comfort zone. Drop all the negativity, go beyond yourSELF; recognize you’re only part of a greater whole, and you have a mission: to be a LAMPLIGHTER. Share the light of Torah and Mitzvos, and kindle a passion for them – our means of personally connecting to Hashem – in others’ hearts.
Quit fretting about your imperfection and their unknown reaction; just reach out to them with love, respect, and a desire to connect with them and share a little light. Every Yid is a diamond, even if that diamond is ‘in the rough’ and in need of some polishing, so don’t desist from bringing it out – their soul and best self – to shine. It takes work and time, but handle with care; don’t think you’re superior to them, and address them with pleasant and gentle words. Be authentic and real. If the situation is appropriate, you can even share personal experiences, emotions and vulnerabilities; and always, “words that come from the heart will enter the heart.” You have a message of truth, purpose and inspiration to share, but know it’s not about you, but that message, and how it can impact others. With this in mind, if your efforts to be mekarev (bring close) another Jew don’t bear the desired fruits, you have the strength to try again, and the mesiras-nefesh to extend yourself to become familiar with what speaks to THEM; engage them through that. (E.g. Is she a gourmet/foodie? Share family kosher recipes, or better yet invite her to cook with you; show her how lovely and delicious dining can be within the laws of Kashrus – nourishment for the body AND soul!) If you didn’t succeed before, it’s due only to a lack in YOUR heartfeltness, and because you weren’t connecting to them in a relatable way. We really need to give all we’ve got. It is also very helpful to recite Tehillim (Psalms), pleading with Hashem to give us the right words to which people will be receptive; to help us to be confident in ourselves yet sensitive to others’ needs.
Get over your nerves, and go beyond your comfort zone with “tokef – passion,” perseverance, quiet strength, fearlessness for ourselves and love for others to help them become excited about serving Hashem in their own way. What will be if you neglect this vital opportunity, and it can only come from shining your light? We’re truly giving over our souls to Hashem… and their most intense radiance is brought out. Even in the darkest depths of Exile, when the forces of evil are pressing in around us, telling us it can never be done.
With personal reflection, I might suggest my sheep, my mesiras-nefesh defying voices which threaten and discourage me from reaching out to others on my mission to spread light…is…speaking in front of others, especially divrei Torah (words of Torah). I don’t feel qualified, I worry if things flow right, and I’m no stranger to people showing they downright don’t care to listen; but still, if the moment is right, and people have the attention to listen, I will speak. Words of Torah purify the air, and give us a much-needed hora’ah (teaching) for today! However, that is not enough. It needs to be personally relatable, and that will start with me. I might want to share something lofty, but my ‘audience’ is very down-to-earth, so I am better off going with something simple and practical. They could think Torah is a bunch of nice stories and archaic laws, so I share with them a real heart-to-heart, a personal experience I had in order to illustrate this, and the message becomes more real. I am naturally more serious, but they like to laugh, so I throw in a couple jokes… and it becomes memorable; we mamesh (actually) bond through it, and the lessons last, too! Torah – teaching and learning it – comes in all shapes and colors; but such is life. And Torah, we LIVE.
WHAT IS YOUR ‘SHEEP?’ WHAT IS YOUR KORBAN?
Please share in the comments; let’s be in touch, as we live with the times – the Jewish way!