Bringing dreams to life

Rabbi Scott Shafrin 

By Rabbi Scott Shafrin

If you could envision the place you wanted to be in your life, what would that look like? Who would be around you? What would a day in that version of your life look like? What sort of person would you be?

For most of us, having dreams and goals allows us to work toward a future that we imagine will be better and more meaningful than our present, a world in which the things we dream of are simply a part of our day-to-day reality. It sounds great, right? But how can we get there?

The combination of texts we read for the first day of Pesach might be able to illuminate one possible path. The Torah reading comes from the Book of Exodus (12:21-51), and it outlines the rules, restrictions and traditions for celebrating the holiday of Pesach in every generation. The problem is that at this point in the narrative of the Jewish People, they are still in Egypt! Before the final of 10 heinous plagues wrought upon the Egyptian populace, God pauses to instruct the Jewish People on the meaning this holiday will one day have for them. 

And so, we move into the Haftarah reading, which comes from the Book of Joshua (5:2-6:1). Here, we revisit this holiday a generation later and see the first Pesach celebrated after the wandering Jewish masses have entered the Promised Land. They have fulfilled not only the promise God made to them, to bring them out of the land of their enslavement and into a land flowing with milk and honey, but the promise made to our most ancient of ancestors to return to the sacred space pledged to our ancestors. 

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How did this all come to pass? Moses instructs the people, while still in Egypt, to envision a time when they will be free, when they will commemorate the events then unfolding with sacred ritual and story and song, and they made it happen. 

Jen Sincero, an incredible motivational author and speaker,  frames the journey this way: “Our thoughts become our words, our words become our beliefs, our beliefs become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits become our realities.” 

If we habituate ourselves to working toward the visions of the world we want to create, if we let our thoughts and words and beliefs and actions all work in service of that vision, we can make it real. Whether we want a better job, a more caring relationship or to ultimately repair the world, the most important thing we can do is believe, deep in our souls, that it not only can happen, but that it will. Once we can latch onto that, and act toward that dream, each and every day, we can move it from just a vision to our lived reality.

May we all move out of our own narrow and constricted spaces this Passover and follow the journey toward our vision of the Promised Land.

Rabbi Scott Shafrin is associate rabbi at Kol Rinah and a member of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association, which coordinates the d’var Torah for the Jewish Light.