The Story of Passover

A couple of week’s ago, Glenn invited Rabbi Bentzi Epstein to the studios to give a Torah lesson for anyone in the building interested in attending. Glenn found the session so compelling that he asked Rabbi Epstein to come back, this time with a full studio audience. Many only know the story of Passover from the Charlton Heston movies, so Glenn asked the rabbi to explain the true story behind this holiday and why it means so much to Jews and Christians around the world.

Glenn: Hello, America, and welcome to The Glenn Beck Program and to TheBlaze. This is the network that you are building. We have a studio audience today, and I’m glad you guys are all here. Is everybody ready to have a good time? All right, okay, so anyway, so, this weekend is Easter and Passover, and everything I knew about Passover I learned from Charlton Heston. So, I know squat about it, but I will tell you that in the last few years, I have gotten to know many Jewish people and many, many rabbis, and I love this religion. I love the people of this religion.

As I was in Israel at two o’clock in the morning, and I know nothing really, I mean, I’m the whitest white guy you’ve ever met. I lived in Seattle, Washington. I mean, nobody even has a tan there, and that’s where I grew up. I remember the first time that I ever saw an African-American, my father said, “Don’t stare.” I was just like, “Look how dark he is.”

The first time, I think, I don’t know, I didn’t card people as a kid, but I think the first time I ever met a Jewish person was when I moved to New York and I had a Jewish agent. I mean, I just didn’t know anybody. So, the culture is completely foreign to me, and so I’ve had a chance to discover it myself. I have several Jewish friends. Some practice, some don’t.

The ones who practice it have enriched my faith so deeply, because as Christians, we are scratching the surface. When you read the Torah, you start to see we don’t know jack as Christians. We just don’t have any concept of how rich all of this is. I honestly don’t think that we should close that book. I think we should embrace the Jewish people and learn from them because they have so much to teach. I absolutely love this, and so a Rabbi here in Dallas, Bentzie Epstein, is a man who has come in here, what were you, two weeks ago?

Rabbi: Two weeks ago.

Glenn: I asked him to start Torah studies for anybody in the building who wanted to learn the Torah, and so we had non-practicing Jews, we had Christians, we had everybody. We do this with Christians pastors as well, and we study the Bible. We had such a great time in that 90 minutes I thought we should do a show on Passover and let him just teach Passover.

Here’s the first thing I want to start with, if this is the Passover table, I don’t want to eat any of that. None of this looks yummy. So, maybe we’ll save that. Why don’t we start with everything I learned, I learned from Charlton Heston. So, that’s not much. I know the blood on the door, and I know you eat bitter herbs and everything else, but tell me the whole story of Passover.

Rabbi: Okay, so the first thing, my mother-in-law happens to be in your group as well. You know, she saw The Ten Commandments as a kid, and that was her education. As I’ve been teaching and going through history, I tell people whatever you learn from Hollywood is wrong. So, the only way you can go ahead and you can watch any of these shows, I said, is if you pay your kids, you know, $0.50, inflation, maybe a buck, for every mistake they find, because it gets so ingrained. Like at our Seder, my in-laws are here, and we talk about the Ten Commandments. All she can think of is Charlton Heston. That’s all she can think of.

Glenn: So, I think a lot of people are like that though. How much would it cost you if you did every dollar per mistake?

Rabbi: You know, it would take forever. I actually told a few of my students, I said, “Why don’t you tape the show?” I said, “And then we’ll have a little showing,” and we’ll stop the movie every scene, you know, and kind of see if they got anything right.

Glenn: Next year we have to do that. That would be fantastic.

Rabbi: But we need more than an hour. So, that’s kind of how these things go. So, Passover, we’re about to celebrate our 3328th Passover tomorrow night, okay? So, Passover, the actual Exodus in Egypt took place 3328 years ago. The Gregorian calendar, it would be 1313 B.C.E, and Jewish calendar would be year 2448, 2448 years from the creation of man, not the world. The world one is actually…well, before the world. Judaism has a fiscal calendar and a calendar year. Our fiscal calendar or our calendar year starts on Rosh Hashanah, right? That’s the anniversary of the world, anniversary of man.

Glenn: But this is the month of like New Year’s, right?

Rabbi: Right, so this month, this is the month of Nisan, and the month of Nisan which is really the first month—

Glenn: Everybody gets a car?

Rabbi: A Nissan. So, I was wondering how they got the—

Glenn: Yeah, I know.

Rabbi: This is the first month of the year. So, in the Jewish calendar, for example, today would be the 13th day to the month of Nisan, year 5775. [So] 5775 connotates from the creation of man, and the 13th of Nisan is from the Exodus of Egypt, okay? The Exodus of Egypt is probably the most important event. It’s a piece of the most seminal event in Jewish history because that’s really…tonight or tomorrow night we’re all going to be sitting down at our Seders, you have the birth of the Jewish people. Okay, this is where the Jewish people were birthed into. Okay, it means 430 years before tomorrow night what happened was you had Abraham ink a deal with God to be the Jewish people. So, Jewish people then were 1743 B.C.E. was when the Jewish people, when Abraham inked a deal with God for the Jewish people to be the Jewish people.

Glenn: I’ve never heard anybody ink a deal with God. It’s funny. It’s like, “I’ve got some changes here on page three.”

Rabbi: The Bible talks about that God told Abraham, take some animals, cut them in half, put them on either side, and then God sent down a pillar of smoke in a fiery furnace and walked through the pieces of the animal, right? Genesis 15, right, that’s where that takes place, so actually it’s a real deal. That’s when we became the Jewish people, so Abraham is considered the patriarch of the Jewish people. Got it? You have Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, those are the three patriarchs. You had four matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, and they are the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. They created the spiritual DNA of the Jewish people. As a people, we became birthed on Passover, okay?

Glenn: Because that was the coming together and saying we’re all entering Exodus together. We are one as a people, and we are moving as one for the first time.

Rabbi: And we’re all accepting the deal that Abraham made with God. That’s actually what takes place, because one thing that we really don’t talk about a lot but you should know, only 20% of the Jewish people left Egypt. During the ninth plague, the plague of darkness, 80% of the Jewish people died because they said we would rather be slaves to Egypt than serve God. They said, “We’re outta here.” They said, “We’re not going.” God says you’ve got two choices, you could come with me or you can stay here dead.

Glenn: This is the thing that amazes me. When I first heard that, because I’ve heard 10%, but I’ll take your 20. Don’t argue with me, Rabbi. This is the thing that amazes me, because we think that is unusual, but there was only 20 to 30% of the American people that went to fight against the king. They weren’t all with George Washington. It was 30% was the number. The rest were either neutral or against it. If you look at what’s happening right now and you said, “Hey, we all have got to stand up,” you’d be lucky to get 20%. There would be a lot of people that believe, “No, this really isn’t right,” but standing up and doing something about it, that’s a small number. So, God always kind of unfortunately whittles it down and purifies those people right before there’s another great expansion.

Rabbi: Yeah. Actually Egypt is called a cauldron, right, a crucible. This is where the Jewish people were purified, and the 20% that left, all Jews today, descended from that.

Glenn: Now, how did they go from being purified…this is the thing I’ve never understood with The Ten Commandments, the Charlton Heston, is they’ve seen all these plagues. They’ve seen all these miracles. They walked across the Red Sea. They see Pharaoh’s armies destroyed. Moses leaves, and the minute he’s gone, it’s…it took a little longer than that?

Rabbi: Yeah, 40 days.

Glenn: Okay still, but 40 days and they are building an altar to—

Rabbi: A golden calf.

Glenn: I mean, what happens? How does that happen?

Rabbi: Actually it’s interesting. Really what happens on that piece is that the Jewish people are in the desert.

Glenn Because these are the good guys. These are the dedicated.

Rabbi: You should know, just in their defense, first of all, the 20% that left were not God-fearing people. When the Jewish people, seven days after we left, we came to the Reed Sea. It’s actually not the Red Sea. The Hebrew word is Yam Suph. Yam means sea. Suph means reeds, Sea of Reeds. It probably was the Red Sea. You know why the Red Sea is called the Red Sea?

Glenn: No.

Rabbi: Because the reeds that grow on the bottom of the Red Sea are red, so they make the water look red.

Glenn: Okay.

Rabbi: Okay, so it’s really the technical term is the Reed Sea.

Glenn: Is there a Reed Sea other than the Red Sea?

Rabbi: I don’t believe so.

Glenn: Okay, so we think it’s the Red Sea.

Rabbi: It’s probably the Red Sea, and actually the Red Sea—

Glenn: So, if it’s reeds, it’s not really deep. It’s like the new one I think or maybe I saw…I also learned a lot from Prince of Egypt, that great cartoon, because in that cartoon there’s like a whale or something there by the water. Like wow, that’s cool, there’s a whale in the sea.

Rabbi: So, I mean, the reeds could be pretty tall. So, Sea of Reeds, it’s actually interesting because there’s a question about the Gulf of Suez or the Gulf of Aqaba, and it seems that really took place, that the splitting of the Reed Sea actually was the Gulf of Aqaba, not the Gulf of Suez. So, if you could imagine, here’s Egypt, okay, and here’s the two fingers. Here’s the Suez which eventually they turned into Suez Canal, and you have here the Gulf of Aqaba where you have all the oil stuff coming out of. They traveled across the desert to the Gulf of Aqaba, probably a place called Nuweiba Beach, okay? Nuweiba Beach is sort of almost a peninsula or a delta into the Sea of Reeds, and that’s why when the Egyptian army came chasing after us we couldn’t go no place.

Glenn: No place.

Rabbi: I never understood if here’s the Sea of Reeds and you’re camped right here, go north, go south. The answer is we’re on a delta. The mountains came up to the Sea of Reeds, and so we’re stuck on this delta. There’s only one way in, and that was through the Wadi, and down the pike was coming the Egyptians. So, we were trapped on the beachhead.

Glenn: Tell me about…because we talked privately about miracles, so tell me about the parting of the Red Sea and the choice you have to believe.

Rabbi: Okay, so this is quite fascinating. Most people, when it comes to miracles, they have a hard time figuring it out. You know, like if I levitate you off this couch—

Glenn: That would be cool.

Rabbi: That would be cool.

Glenn: If I levitated you off this couch, that would be very cool.

Rabbi: I love your couches. Once you sit in them, you don’t get up.

Glenn: I know.

Rabbi: Right, so people define miracles, if I picked up this building, wow, what a miracle.

Glenn: Right.

Rabbi: Judaism, that’s not how we define miracles. Judaism, we define miracles, God will always try to do a miracle…He will always try to do it within the bounds of nature, okay? So, it will always be as natural as it could be, and in fact, if you actually read the Torah, right, it says that Moses stuck his hand out over the sea, and it says an east wind blew all that night. The next morning, the Sea of Reeds split. At dawn, the Sea of Reeds split, and in we went. So, you see the sea splitting was a natural event. The wind blew.

Glenn: It was the stacking up of the water.

Rabbi: The stacking up of the water.

Glenn: Have you ever read Velikovsky, a guy named Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision? Has anybody ever read Worlds in Collision?

Rabbi: Is he in the Bible?

Glenn: No. He was a guy who actually was really besmirched. He was a scientist and besmirched. When Einstein died, he had just written Velikovsky a letter and said I am sorry that I was part of the besmirching of you. He said some of the stuff that you’ve said has turned out to be accurate, and he said I will make it my life’s mission to correct any of the stuff that I have done. He died a week later.

So, Velikovsky is still discredited, and it’s not that his conclusions are necessarily accurate, it’s his idea. He talked about worlds in collision. He talked about let’s go through the Bible, and let’s look now if the sun did stop, we should find that in many religions, and they might explain it differently.

If the Red Sea…and how he explained the Red Sea, he said could it have been that the fire coming down and stuff was maybe a very large meteor coming by that actually changed the gravitational pull and actually made the riverbed or the sea stand up? What he was saying was if God created the universe, He would use his own natural laws to do these things, so we should look for scientific ways and natural ways for miracles to happen. It’s how we translate them. I thought that was great.

Rabbi: Actually the Jewish tradition teaches that when God came, like Noah and the flood, said God took two stars out of orbit and that flooded the world. It’s kind of quite fascinating. When you go through the Bible, it’s amazing. So, the Sea of Reeds, going back to the Sea of Reeds, it was a natural event, and yet in Judaism we consider that to be…the miracles that took place at the Sea of Reeds was five times, four times more than the miracles that took place in Egypt. Everyone knows the ten plagues, right? I didn’t watch the movie, so I can’t tell you.

Glenn: You didn’t watch the movie? Oh, you’ve got to come over to my house for Passover.

Rabbi: And so you go, you get the ten plagues, right? You have ten plagues there, right? And yet the plagues that took place at the Sea of Reeds were multiples of that. Fifty, two hundred, two hundred fifty plagues took place at the Sea of Reeds, right? It’s humongous, and yet like, “Well, what’s the miracle?” Like, big deal, you know, like whoopie-doo. The answer is as follows, and the answer to this is something so significant. The definition of a miracle is timing. The Jewish people stood at the Sea of Reeds, and the Egyptians are pounding now. They’re going to chop their heads off, right? They finally have them in their gun sights. You know, they’ve been taking it for a year, and you can’t fight God. Like, it’s hard to shoot God, right? They go ahead, and they’re about ready to take the Jewish people. They’re going to teach them a lesson, right? How many of them are they going to bring back? They’re going to wipe the floor with them, and they have them in their gun sights, right? The Jewish people are stuck, and we say, “God, help us.” God goes in, and God splits the sea, and we walk through. You have to pardon me. I don’t understand the Egyptians, okay?

Glenn: Yeah.

Rabbi: Ten plagues you’ve lived through, right? You’ve lost everything. You show up at the Sea of Reeds, and all of a sudden, the sea parts, and then you’re stupid enough to follow the Jews in?

Glenn: Yeah, I know, yeah, like way behind them too. If I’m like with them, that’s one thing.

Rabbi: What are you doing? Like, I just don’t get that. The Jewish people get in there, right? The Jewish people walk across. We go ahead, and we go through the Sea of Reeds, and it’s an amazing thing, right? In the last 3328 years, how many times has the Sea of Reeds split?

Glenn: Zero.

Rabbi: Zero, and before this time, how many times has the Sea of Reeds split?

Glenn: Zero.

Rabbi: So that, in Judaism, we put up a big sign, and we say “God.” We say that’s God because it’s timing. That’s God. That’s the miracle. The miracle is it never happens before. It happened just when we were there and we cried out to God. Stick out your hand and poof, poof, poof, and there we go. It’s like amazing.

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