Passover speaks to me about miracles and freedom. At Chabad.org, the article “What is Passover (Pesach)?” explains, “Passover, celebrating the greatest series of miracles ever experienced in history, is a time to reach above nature to the miraculous.
But how are miracles achieved? Let’s take our cue from the matzah. Flat and unflavored, it embodies humility. Through ridding ourselves of inflated egos, we are able to tap into the miraculous well of divine energy we all have within our souls.”
In my book “Pathfinding,” my late father tells this story, which was passed on to him, that speaks to miracles:
“Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan was born and raised in Radin, Poland. He had a grocery store, and because of his reputation and fame people would flock to his store, causing his competitor to do badly. The rabbi soon realized that he was hurting the other grocer, who was not Jewish. So, he closed his store because he felt that it was not fair for him to capitalize on his fame to do harm to another person.
“He was considerate of all people regardless of their religious beliefs. He wrote several books, one of which was entitled ‘The Evil Tongue,’ which characterizes the tongue as man’s worst weapon. A gun or knife may kill once but words from the tongue will kill over and over again. I learned all this when my oldest grandson was named after this man and I read the story of his life.
“When Rabbi Kagan died, he was buried in the Jewish cemetery in the town of Radin, Poland. During World War II, the town of Radin was in the middle of the war zone between the Germans and the Russians. The town was repeatedly overrun, first by the Germans, then by the Russians. Yet, the town was never destroyed or damaged in a significant way.
“After the war, his family wanted to have the rabbi reburied in Israel. However, the non-Jewish population objected to the removal of his body, and blocked the reburial because they felt that Rabbi Kagan was a saintly man who had spent his life caring for people regardless of their religious beliefs.
“The people of Radin perceived that they had escaped death and destruction during the war because of the saintliness of this one man. Was it a miracle? They certainly thought so.”
Passover also speaks to me of freedom. At Chabad.org, the article “What is Freedom?” by Yanki Tauber, a former editor of Chabad.org, explains the concept of freedom as it relates to Passover. At the end of the article, Tauber writes, “Thus our sages have said: ‘In every generation a person must see himself as if he has himself come out from Mitzrayim (Egypt).’ The Hebrew word for ‘Egypt,’ Mitzrayim, means ‘boundaries,’ and the endeavor to free ourselves from yesterday’s boundaries is a perpetual one.
“For freedom is more than the drive to escape foreign and negative inhibitors: no matter how free of them we are, we remain defined by the boundaries of self and self-definition. Freedom is the incessant drive to ‘Passover’ these boundaries, to draw on our divine, infinite potential to constantly overreach what we are.”
This last sentence resonates with me: Freedom for me is the ability and opportunity to use my potential and gifts and express them for the greater good.
PATRICIA RASKIN hosts “The Patricia Raskin Show” on Saturdays at 3 p.m. on WPRO, 630 AM/99.7 FM, and on Mondays at 2 p.m. on voiceamerica.com. Raskin is a board member of Providence’s Temple Emanu-El