The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping
upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
–Song of Songs
The most popular version of the Passover story tells of a people waiting with bated breath for the chance to escape Egyptian bondage, fleeing gleefully at the first chance offered them. It is the literal account of the Passover story.
There is, however, another analysis based a midrashic interpretation. The prophet lauds the Jewish people: “I remember your youthful devotion, the love of your bridal days; how you followed me through the wilderness through a land unsown.”
This interpretation is more relatable to human nature. Distressed, slave laborers, the Jews were nevertheless settled in the life they had grown accustomed to in Egypt. As has been considered in the literature of prisoners who grow comfortable in the consistent, reliable misery of their incarceration, the Jews of Egypt possibly preferred the predictable discomfort of their circumstances to the unknown that awaited them.
Yet without much more than a promise that G-d will lead them, with no knowledge of how they would sustain themselves on their journey, with the Egyptians at their heels and the sea facing them, they took G-d at his word and fled Egypt. It was an exquisite leap of faith, as would be proven time and again through their long sojourn in the desert.
Page 5 of the new edition of Lubavitch International explores the theme of faith in the lives of several individuals, a theme especially apropos to the holiday of Passover.
Dovid Birk, Chabad representative at Cornell University, shared his take on faith. If you’d like to read more from other contributors please see the newspaper. If you aren’t receiving Lubavitch International in the mail, and would like to get your own copy, please contact us here with your mailing address.
In 1992, I watched a movie called White Men Can’t Jump, and thought that I was the exception to the rule. In my final year of school I competed in the high jump and it was down to me and my friend, Adam Lin. The crowd watched with bated breath as the bar inched up and up until finally, I emerged triumphant. I proved that white men can jump!
I love to jump! And so, after school I went leaping around New Zealand, across Australia, Africa and finally to Israel.
Why jumping?” people asked me.
Because to jump is to have faith, I answer. When you walk, one foot remains connected to the ground, lifted only when the next foot lands in its place. Walking is safe. It is measured. It makes sense.
To jump is to have both feet leave the ground at once, to defy gravity, to allow yourself
to venture into the unknown. But you need to have faith to take the leap and you need to have faith that it will deliver you to better, higher and more complete place. Most of the time, we walk through life, and that’s good enough. But sometimes, we need to let go and take that leap.
Dovid Birk is Chabad’s representative to Cornell University. Born in Zimbabwe, raised in Australia he jumps around (leaps of faith) in Ithaca, New York.