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Reclaiming True Life

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

On Seder night we drink four cups of wine corresponding to the four terms of redemption mentioned at the beginning of Parshat Va’erah. “Therefore, say to the children of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will extract you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their labor, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. And I will take you to Me as a people …”

A close analysis of the text reveals that there is, in fact, a fifth term as it states “I will bring you to the land, which I promised to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it to you as a heritage; I am the Lord.” The obvious question arises: Why did our sages only institute four cups of wine on Seder night relating to the first four terms of redemption? Surely the fifth term mentioning our final phase of redemption, our entry into the Holy Land, should be added as a fifth cup?

Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Fisher explained it as follows. On Pesach we commemorate and celebrate the redemption from Egypt. It would, therefore, not be appropriate to focus on the final destination, the Land of Israel. Our sages are teaching us an important life lesson–one needs to learn to appreciate, enjoy, and celebrate the journey! We often get so caught up in focusing on our future goals and aspirations that we forget to enjoy the process unfolding in the present moment.

We spend most of our time thinking about the past and anticipating the future. Whilst it is important to learn lessons from our past and plan for our future, we are missing out on the only real life that exists, the present moment. The past is history, the future is yet to exist, and the only thing that really exists is now, the present moment. Consuming our minds with past and future is therefore an illusionary existence and robs us of the only real life we have, the present moment. Let us learn to focus more of our attention on the here and the now and reclaim our enjoyment and appreciation of real life.