Home > Sermons > SERMON: Boogie Yaalon, Sha-Shtill and the Meaning of Pesach

SERMON: Boogie Yaalon, Sha-Shtill and the Meaning of Pesach

April 2, 2014

It is hard to believe but there are only 14 shopping days left until Pesach. Pesach has a way of sneaking up on us and so to make sure we know it is coming and to give ourselves time to properly prepare, we have this special Shabbat – Shabbat Parshat Ha-Chodesh – which tells us that the month of Nisan is about to begin and the festival of Pesach is on the horizon. But first, what does Pesach mean? You should know that there are a variety of answers to this seemingly simple question. On a simple level, Pesach is the name of the lamb sacrifice that was brought to form the basis of the Seder. But, The Jewish Study Bible translates Pesach as “protected,” and the first century Aramaic translator, Onkelos, says the word means “compassionate.” The most common translation we have for the word “Pesach” is “Passover.” How did “Pesach” get that name? It got that name in the 1500’s from a Protestant Biblical translator named William Tyndale. Tyndale translated the Bible and had to come up with appropriate translations for our Biblical holidays, and so for Shavuot he came up with “the feast of weeks,” referring to the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot. For Sukkot he came up with the name “Tabernacles,” referring to the booths we used in the desert. And for Pesach he looked at the special Torah portion we read today which told us of God’s intention to destroy the firstborn of the Egyptians, but the Jews first had to slaughter a lamb, place its blood on their doorposts, “u’fasachta alechem – and I will pass over you … when I strike in the land of Egypt.” William Tyndale put these two words together and gave us “Passover.” But there is one other translation – a Kabbalistic one – of the meaning of the word “Pesach” that I wish to refer to this morning. READ MORE

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