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  • The Vehi She’amda, is what made us survive | Photo: PxHere
Teachings

Immensely Rich

Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs - 21 April 2020

Two days of Yom Tov (Jewish holidays) and shabbat in a row are behind us. The Seder evenings, different from other years. With all my heart I hope that all patients have recovered and those who were not so ill, stayed healthy and will stay healthy. And for those who have not yet fully recovered: a rephu‘a shelemah, a speedy and full recovery.

During the Seder evening I noticed something this year, something that didn’t cross my mind in previous years. During the vehi she’amda we raise the cup of wine and merrily sing with a beautiful melody the following lyrics: “And this Divine promise has given our ancestors and us the strength to endure all persecutions.” Because not only once did people want to destroy us, but in every generation, there were those who wanted to extirpate us. But G’d has saved us time and again and will continue to save us repeatedly.

“And this Divine promise has given our ancestors and us the strength to endure all persecutions”

It may well be that ultimately, we as Jewish people survive all attempts to annihilate us, yet the message that is written here is a very painful one. Persecution after persecution. Exactly why to this text the cup is raised, sign of freedom, and then also a very merry melody, while the text speaks of nothing but misery?

Immensely rich
A penniless young newly married couple lived in with the bride’s parents. A tiny flat with hardly enough room for one family. It may be clear that everything was very difficult, but there was no money, so they had no choice. And then the aged grandmother, who still lived independently, died. Her shabby little house in a backstreet district was given to the young couple.

But after a few weeks they were burgled. The fresh bridegroom heard a strange noise, loaded his gun and could chase the burglar away. The attempted burglary was not restricted to only that first attempt. Week after week they were confronted with burglars. The young couple couldn’t head or tail of it. Since, so they thought, there was nothing worth stealing from us. We have no money, no jewellery, no nothing. And still their house apparently remained an attractive location for burglars. Curious about the aim of the burglary the young man decided to not chase away the next thief but to catch him and hear from him what he intended to steal.

And then the truth of the matter was discovered. It was known in criminal circles that underneath the house a great treasure was hidden. And so, the poor young man started to dig and stumbled across a big chest full of gold and silver. The newly married couple was now immensely rich!

We, the Jewish people possess a vast fortune. We are rich! Not always are we aware of this, is it withdrawn beyond our scope. But the thieves, our enemies, know about its existence. And that is why they try to destroy us to take possession of our fortune. We sit on a treasure, Torah and tradition, the secret of our existence.

And that’s why we sing at the top of our voices, with the cup of wine in our hand, the Vehi She’amda, and this is what made us survive.

“The Vehi She’amda, is what made us survive”

In Hebrew we write “Vehi” as vav, hee, yod, aleph.

  • The vav with numerical value 6, symbolizes the six parts of the Mishnah, the Oral Torah.
  • The letter hee is 5. The five Books of the Torah.
  • The yod, ten, are the Ten Words, the Ten Commandments.
  • And the aleph, one, stands for belief in the Eternal our G’d.

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