In Jewish life through the ages, the simple fact that Jewish people gather together has tremendous power. We see this in the Sedra, which describes the final stages in the drama which was to culminate in the Exodus, the going free from Egypt.
G-d told Moses to tell the people to organize themselves into groups, each group acquiring one lamb. This was to be the Pesach lamb. The initial and natural group would be the family. However, a family which was to small to be able to consume a whole lamb by itself should join with neighbours.
After slaughtering and roasting a lamb, the designated groups were to come together in their respective homes, distinguished by a sprinkling of blood on the doorposts and lintel. They should eat the lamb together, and should be dressed in their outdoor clothes, ready to leave...
While the Jews were gathered in this way in their homes, G-d would smite the Egyptian first-born. He would "pass over" the Jewish dwellings with their groups of men, women and children safely eating the Pesach lamb together. The power of Egypt would be destroyed, and the Jews would go free.
In Temple times, Pesach was celebrated in a similar way. The focus of the activities was the Pesach lamb and the organization of the people into groups. Everyone had to be very specific about which group they would be joining on the night of Pesach. This aspect of Pesach remains important to this day. "where will you be for the Seder Night?", the traveler is asked.
These assemblies of Jews generate power, a power of unity and of love which has preserved the Jewish people. Something of this force can be felt not only the Pesach nights, but also more frequently. For example, every Friday night.
We come together, unified not by the Pesach lamb, but by the Shabbat candles and their atmosphere of peace.
In Jewish teaching, this power of assembly has a name. it is called 'Hakhel', the term which describes the vast gatherings in the Temple of men, women and children which took place every seven years. Whether on Friday nights, at other festive meals through the year, or at any gathering of Jews, the Hakhel power comes into play, giving added warmth, purpose and direction to our lives.