ISRAEL’S great watch-night dates its origin from the very Deliverance it was to commemorate through all the coming years. Ah! With what a delirious impatience did Pharaoh’s slaves await the midnight hour that was to be at once the knell of Egypt’s tyranny and the joy-note that announced their own freedom!
God Himself had singled it out as the time for fulfilling His ancient promise—singled it out, as the Rabbins tell us in hyperbolical language, from the days of creation itself. Too long had unrighteousness flourished. Too long had God seemed to slumber in His Heaven; but now He was to show that the cry of the oppressed had never failed to reach Him, for accumulated wrongs were to be redressed by a complete and unparalleled deliverance. It was for so signal a vindication of the Divine justice that this night was reserved.
It was as though the Supreme had set His finger upon this night, in the almanac of Heaven, and declared: This shall witness the long-deferred triumph of Right over Might; this shall tell for all time that I am the Lord, that I reign, and that righteousness and justice are the foundation of My throne, the principles on which I govern My world. This night shall show to all coming generations that it is only the fool who says in his heart ‘There is no God’; that the earthly despot who pursues his career of cruelty, thinking that he has only his victims’ tears to reckon with, is deluding himself to his own ruin.
And is this truth not worth treasuring in these latter days? Often does God seem to hide Himself, to have deserted earth and shut Himself up in Heaven. It is the souls of the meek and the faithful from which humanity’s tears are distilled, from which the painful chorus of a world’s lament goes up, and seemingly up in vain. But the lesson taught to Pharaoh and to Israel on that awful, that joyous night of deliverance, is still a living lesson; not one jot of its force is abated. God neither slumbers nor sleeps. He watches ever. Not one sigh passes unrecorded in the Heavenly Volume.
MORRIS JOSEPH, 1893.
Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz