This week we finished celebrating the the holiday of Passover, with its many traditions from Matza to Matza balls. In Jewish thought, not only is it a celebrated holiday, but Passover serves as the beginning of a character-building process.

The prophet Ezekiel refers to the holiday as the birth of the Jewish people. Birth is the beginning of a new lifetime, a brand new world. There is boundless potential embedded in every newborn child. Yet birth is just the beginning - we spend our entire lives trying to discover, nurture and bring to fruition the potential that we were given at birth.

At Passover and the exodus from Egypt, each and every Jew was freed from slavery and taken by God as his chosen people. This is the birthright of every Jew, and is inherent in every individual. Yet ultimately, what really counts is what we do with it.

Over the next seven weeks, starting from Passover, there is a systematic countdown to the next holiday, Shavuot, when we received the Torah. Every day of this count, know as the "count of the Omer", we focus on improving one element of our forty-nine dimensional character. We try to make sure that we are using every capability and talent at our disposal for the best purpose - that we are maximizing our God-given potential.

Judaism is a bottom line religion. The true beauty of the Jewish faith shines the brightest when we look at the results and accomplishments over the millennia, not only the theory and philosophy of Judaism. The intellectual contributions, the belief in one God, the charity, the giving, the spirituality, the idea of loving another as yourself, the kindness, innovation and morality of the Jewish people over four millennia are truly amazing.

The Ten Commandments themselves, which where given at the end of this seven week character-refining process after Passover, imply the same message. They begin with lofty spiritual ideas such as worshiping one God, but end with down to earth commandments like not to steal or murder, being honest, and honoring your parents. A true believer in God is one who brings his faith into real life and practicality, one who is truly kind and caring to other human beings and to all creatures. If not, the belief itself is flawed.

Our mission after Passover, is to take the eternal gift of freedom, the uniqueness of the Jewish people and every individual human being, the gift of being part of a 3,000 year old beautiful tradition, and make it real. To bring it down into our daily lives, and aspire to be more selfless, giving people. To share it with others, with our families, and with ourselves. To free ourselves of our self-imposed limits and climb higher, achieve more, help one more person, do another mitzvah. Make your Judaism real.

Rabbi Avrohom