Vaulting, Bounding and Leaping
The name of the holiday Pesach, or Passover, derives from the Hebrew
words meaning "and G-d will leap over." [ 1 ] Rashi [ 2 ]
explains further: "The festival is called Pesach because of [G-d's]
leaping.... Therefore perform all its aspects in a manner of bounding
What is the particular relationship between the holiday that celebrates
the Exodus, and bounding and leaping?
The Jewish people lived in Egypt for many generations, eventually
descending to a state of slavery. Some became so mired in slavery that
when the time came for their liberation they did not want to leave
Egypt! [ 3 ]
During the period that the Jews were in Egypt, the country was
considered to be the most culturally advanced of its time in terms of
knowledge, art, technology and philosophy [ 4 ] - the things people commonly refer to when they
speak of "culture" and "civilization." But in terms of morality and
ethics, Egypt was the most depraved, degenerate and immoral of lands,
[ 5 ] so much so that it was known
as the "abomination of the earth." [ 6
It was from a land such that the Jewish people had to attain complete
physical and spiritual freedom, so that soon afterward they would be
able to lift themselves to the heights necessary for receiving G-d's
Torah. For the main purpose of the Exodus was the receipt of Torah, as
G-d told Moshe: "When you will take the nation out of Egypt, they shall
serve G-d upon this mountain [of Sinai]." [ 7 ] Indeed, Rashi notes [ 8 ] that it was in merit of their eventual service
to G-d at Sinai that the Jewish people were redeemed from exile.
Receiving the Torah from G-d involved the acceptance of all its decrees,
beginning with the Ten Commandments, the first of which was: "I am the
L-rd your G-d, you shall have no other gods," and the last of which was:
"You shall not covet... anything that belongs to your fellow man." [ 9 ] These themes of G-d's absolute
unity and the highest degree of ethics and morality in terms of man's
relationship with his fellows stood in stark contrast to the depravity
of Egyptian "culture" and "civilization."
Clearly, departing from such an abject state and achieving true inner
freedom to the extent of accepting Torah and mitzvos before fully
comprehending them [ 10 ] required
the mighty leap of "Pesach - in a manner of bounding and leaping."
All this began while the Jews were still in Egypt, when G-d told them
about the Passover service, including the instruction that the entire
service be done "in a manner of bounding and leaping."
This vaulting manner of service culminated on the first night of Pesach,
when G-d Himself leapt over the bonds and fetters of exile, revealed
Himself to the Jewish people while they were still in Egypt, released
them from their captivity and established that from then on their inner
state would be one of spiritual freedom.
This Passover theme of vaulting and leaping is fundamental to Jews and
Judaism at all times and in all places, and is to be carried through the
rest of the year.
We find ourselves exiled in a physical world, with a preponderance of
our time required for physical acts such as eating, drinking, sleeping,
earning a living, etc. The time remaining for spiritual affairs such as
Torah study, prayer and the performance of mitzvos is thus severely
Nevertheless, Pesach tells us that as Jews we are expected and empowered
to "leap over" all physical and corporeal limitations to attain true
spiritual freedom the whole year through.
Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XII, pp. 160-164.
- Back to text Shmos 12:23.
- Back to text Ibid. 12:11.
- Back to text See Shmos Rabbah 14:3; Tanchuma, Va'eira 14.
- Back to text See commentaries of our Sages on I Melachim 5:10.
- Back to text See Toras Kohanim, Acharei 18:3.
- Back to text Bereishis 42:12.
- Back to text Shmos 3:12.
- Back to text Ibid.
- Back to text Ibid. 20:2-14.
- Back to text See ibid. 24:7; Shabbos 88a.