WWOT – Weekly Words of Torah for Passover
To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism
In our Torah reading for the First Day of Passover, from the book of Exodus, we read about Moses instructing the elders of Israel in all of the laws of Passover. All generations to come are expected to observe the Passover traditions. In addition, the children of succeeding generations are to be instructed at Passover as to the origin and significance of the festival, thus the Haggadah and the Passover Seder. The Torah reading concludes with the last of the 10 Plagues: the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn. Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron and tells them that he wants them out of Egypt as soon as possible. Moses and Aaron comply, and the children of Israel begin to make a quick exit, not allowing time for their bread to rise, hence our eating Matzah.
On the Second Day of Passover, the Torah reading from the book of Leviticus discusses Moses instructing the Israelites in the observance of the Sabbath and festivals. This reading presents a comprehensive description of the sacred seasons of the Jewish year, including Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. On the Shabbat of Chol HaMoed Passover, the Torah reading from the book of Exodus is set after Israel worshipped the golden calf, and Moses shattered the first set of tablets. Moses once again ascended Mount Sinai in order to receive the new set of tablets. Moses pleads for God’s assurance of support. God reassures Moses and also reveals God’s Thirteen Divine Attributes. Moses then brings down a new set of tablets with the Ten Commandments.
Many people might think of Passover as just a home holiday – the Seders done at home, and perhaps a Community Seder at the synagogue. However, there are Services every day of the year, and especially on Passover, the Services are very uplifting, with Hallel, the chapters from Psalms sung, and Torah read every day, and also Musaf. The Torah readings remind us how important it is to teach our children the history of our ancestors, and remind them of the miracles that God performed for us, not only by delivering us out of slavery in Egypt, but also throughout our journey towards the land of Israel. God’s ultimate sign of love to Israel was the gift of the Torah. During Passover, as we spend time with family and friends around the Seder table and at Services, remember the many miracles in your own life and the great gifts that God provides each day. How does the gift of Torah continue to give each and every day, and how do we pass that gift along to the next generation? May your Passover Seders and week of Passover be inspirational, meaningful, and enjoyable.
Weekly Words of Torah is a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here.