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Take a Pause & Learn More About Yourself: The Meaning of Shabbat Hol Ha’Moed Pesach

Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigelson takes inventory of our Jewish life on Shabbat Hol Ha’Moed Pesach encouraging us all to relax, think and be closer to God.  

I don’t know about you but there are a lot of conflicting feelings about Shabbat Hol Ha’Moed Pesach.

Some people love to have Hol Ha’moed, it gives them time to go places, to do things.

And the way it is this year, especially those who are abroad that you have two days (of holiday) and then Shabbat, it is a lot of time to sit and to be.

I want to make a suggestion, because when you look at the reading the Torah that we have for the Shabbat also there are a lot of things going on. There is Moshe and his relationship with God, and what he wants it to be like.

There is the commandment to re-create the Tablets. And this desire to be face to face with God and how do we do it.

The 13 attributes of compassion that God tells us when you sin, this is the mantra, this is how you come back to me, which also means that we are inevitably, in this relationship, going to sin.

I want to suggest a way of thinking about Shabbat Hol Ha’Moed Pesach as a moment, a moment to pause. It is a moment to take an inventory.

You know we came out of Mizrayim (Egypt) in haste, and we are on our way to Yam Suf (Sea of Reeds).

But for a moment, catch your breath and ask yourself: What did you leave in Mizrayim? Were the things that you behind, that if you had one more minute, you would have taken them with you?

Or maybe in that hastiness, you grabbed things that are too much, or too heavy or a burden, perhaps.

I want to think of Shabbat Hol Ha’Moed Pesach as the way we think, sometimes of the 18 minutes between the time that candle lighting is designated, and Shabbat really comes in and we steal those moments of times.

And the truth is the Talmud tells us that there are numbers and relates to the things that God created Erev Shabbat Bein Hashmashot (dusk). In this in-between time there was still things that creation was not complete without. So, I want us to take this Shabbat, Hol Ha’Moed, and think about it as those 18 minutes.

Why is it important? It is important because it is not only a question of how we left Mizrayim, how we left Egypt, but it is also a question how we are going to make it to the splitting of the sea?

Do we want to get there out of breath, with no understanding of who we are and where will we be going? Or do we want to take a moment to be accountable to who we are? To take inventory on who we are?

So that when we get Yam Suf on Shvi’I shel Pesach (7th day of Pesach), that we make a choice, we make a choice to enter into the desert, we make a choice to go through the Sea of Reeds?

We make a choice of not only to leave Mizrayim but we make a choice to enter into the journey the desert will take us on.

As I like to often suggest, it is not only a question of who we are running away from but who are we running away to?

When we enter into the Sea of Reeds on the 7th Day of Pesach is that going to be because we are running away from the Egyptians or is that going to be because we will be running towards the one and only, towards the Divine, towards God, towards the Divine Mother?

I want to suggest, to think of, of this Shabbat of Hol Ha’Moed Pesach as a moment of pause, as a moment of inventory.

Like the Mishnah tells us where we are going…know where you came from and to where you are going.

To not get lost in the exhaustion of preparations, the exhaustion of all the words and the text of the Hagaddah.

But this Shabbat, sit, take an inventory, put yourself, ask yourself what have I left behind? What am I grateful that I left behind? Is there something that I want to reclaim? Something that I left behind that I still really want?

This is an opportunity to really allow ourselves a new identity and to walk into freedom not only walk away from slavery but walk into freedom.

And to be able to pause as an element of freedom.


I want to wish you a Shabbat Shalom from Schechter


(image – wikicommons, Susanne Nilsson)

Reb Mimi serves as the Mashpiah Ruchanit (spiritual mentor) of the Rabbinical School, and  teaches Talmud and Hassidic Thought. She will guide and walk with the rabbinical students on their personal-spiritual journeys. She served as the Mashpiah Ruchanit of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles for the last 16 years. Prior to this Reb Mimi was one of the founding administration and faculty members of the “Yakar” Beit Midrash and community.

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