This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.
Passover (5766 (2))
This week millions of Jews throughout the world will be sitting with family and guests around brightly lit, festive tables eating Matzo and bitter herbs, drinking four cups of wine and reminding each other about the miracles G-d did for the Jews.
They will be celebrating the holiday of Passover for the 3,318th time in history.
That's right; millions of Jews every year since the exodus have never missed a year of Pesach Seder.
And probably the most basic commandment of the Seder is the talking about leaving Egypt. Besides carrying the spirit of the night it is the foundation of all Judaism (first of the Ten Commandments) and is mandatory not only on Pesach but on every day of the year. The Rabbis even wrote a book called the Haggada containing all the necessary praises and ideas of the night to facilitate this vital commandment.
But strangely the main character of the Exodus, Moses, is mentioned only once in this entire book. (in the paragraph beginning "Rabbi Yossi HaGalili Omer")!
If it wasn't for Moses the Jews would have never left Egypt at all. And even after they left if it wasn't for him they would have returned!!
G-d was simply not enough to inspire them. In fact, when the Jews thought that Moses had left them at Mount Sinai, they worshiped the Golden Calf - despite G-d's presence!!
So why isn't Moses given more credit in the Hagadda?
To understand this here is a story about the third Rebbe of Chabad - Rabbi Menachem Mendel, nicknamed the Tzemach Tzedek. (Who passed away two days before Passover almost one hundred and fifty years ago).
Rabbi Shmuel Pinchas was, besides being a Chassid of the Tzemach Tzedek, one of the richest men in the city of Homel.
He was a bit of a genius when it came to finances and the small safe in his home was always filled with jewels, foreign currencies and promissory notes for the large amounts of money the local nobility had borrowed from him.
But in one swift and terrible stoke of fate he lost it all, and was reduced to abject poverty.
It was a cold and rainy night, perfect for curling up in bed under a warm blanket, and that is exactly what Rabbi Shmuel Pinchas did.
But just as he was drifting off to sleep he thought he heard the window in the room next to his slide open.
But it could have been his imagination. Then he heard some more strange muffled noises from the same place.
He got out of bed as quietly as possible, took the heavy stick he kept next to his bed, slowly opened the door and peeked into the hall. There was no one.
But when he went into the next room he almost passed out; the window was open, so was the safe…. And it was …… empty!
There was nothing he could do. In those days there were no phones. So he did the only thing he could; he opened a book of Psalms, wept, read aloud and …. waited for the morning when he could run to the house of the Rabbi, Rabbi Yitchak Issac of Homel.
The Rabbi at the break of dawn opened his door and there stood Shmel Pinchas soaked in rain, face wet with tears and shaken to the bone. After hearing the sad story the Rabbi assured him that his only chance was to get to the Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, as soon as possible.
The next morning Shmuel Pinchas had driven all night in his carriage to Lubavitch and was standing before the Rebbe.
But when the Rebbe heard the story he looked Shmuel Pinchas deep in the eyes, as though to say 'forget the money' and said.
"What is worrying you is the money you lost. But you should know that everything that happens is for a reason. The burglary is only a result of something much more important that you are lacking spiritually. Fix that, and G-d can save you in the blink of an eye!"
The words of the Rebbe totally devastated Shmuel Pinchas. Suddenly he felt as though the ground dropped out from under him and the money was meaningless. What is money worth if he himself is worthless?! Maybe it was his attitude toward the Torah, maybe toward G-d maybe toward his fellow man…. Maybe all three! But his heart was broken inside him.
Something must have happened spiritually that moment because the Rebbe looked at him completely differently and said very calmly.
"Travel to the city of Babroisk and spend the Shabbat there in a small inn owned by a Jew just before the entrance of the town. Then the next two days find a place in the city itself and HaShem will help.
Without hesitation Shmuel Pinchas thanked the Rebbe profusely, ran outside to his wagon and drove as fast as the horses could to Babroisk. It was Thursday night and the only way he could make it before Shabbat was by traveling non-stop.
Just minutes before Shabbat he arrived at the hotel the Rebbe spoke of, got a room, washed up and changed his clothes, prayed the Shabbat prayers, ate a meal from the food he had brought along, learned his daily portions of Talmud he had set for himself and lay down to sleep.
His mind wanted to begin racing but he realized that it would do him no good to think about it… rather he repeated words of Torah by heart until he drowsed off.
But it wasn't easy. A group of five or six drunken gentiles that were staying in the room next to his made raucous noise the entire night. And so it was the night after Shabbat. He even knocked on their door and asked them to be quiet several times but to no avail.
Then, early Monday morning as he was packing to leave, one of his neighbors knocked on his door apologized for the noise and then asked Reb Shmuel if he could speak to him.
He asked him if knew any of the rich people in Babroisk. He explained that he and his friends are working together as investors but now they have an important investment to make and all they have is some promissory notes and jewelry while the other side is demanding cash.
When Shmuel Pinchas heard this he almost jumped out of his skin… but he kept calm.
"Of course I know the rich people of Babroisk. Tomorrow we will enter the city and I'll see what I can do. But what will my percentage be? What do I stand to earn if I help you?
An agreement was made; Shmuel Pinchas would receive half the profits for every buyer he brought and the next day they were in the hotel owned by a friend of his in Babroisk.
"But before I sell anything I want to see what you have" he explained. And sure enough, when they opened the small suitcase there were all his promissory notes and jewels along with others that also must have been stolen!
He managed to keep a straight face and they suspected nothing. He looked through the bills, expressed his satisfaction and walked out, saying he was going to find takers. But in fact went to the owner of the hotel and told him the entire story. Together they made a plan; the owner called his sons… all large muscular fellows, told them what had happened and they burst in on the thieves catching them by complete surprise binding and blindfolding them till the police came.
Suddenly Shmuel Pinchas realized the enormity of what happened. If it hadn't have been for the Rebbe's interpretation of the thievery he would have lost not only his money but also a chance to fix his own attitude toward life.
The Rebbe, with just one sentence had opened his eyes and saved him materially and spiritually at once!
This answers our question. G-d did incredible miracles for the Jews; in fact He did everything… He was the 'star' of the Exodus.
Therefore He is mentioned so many times.
But Moses is mentioned once because it is his job to do only ONE thing; to interpret these miracles in a way that brought the JEWS to serve G-d on their own.
So it wasn't his job to do everything, like G-d did, but only ONE thing… to link the Jews to G-d.
That is why, when his name is mentioned in the Hagadda it the sentence "And they (the Jews) believed in G-D AND IN MOSES His servant" (Exodus 14:31).
In other words, the Torah equates the belief in Moses with the belief in G-d… because there cannot be one without the other.
The Zohar (1:253a) equates Moses with Moshiach. Because the Moshiach will complete this task.
In fact, Moshiach will bring the entire world to serve the Creator (through His Torah) with all their abilities.
Then truly will be fulfilled "And they (the entire world) will believe in HaShem and Moses His servant.
Then all mankind will leave all their limitations (The word Mitzriam means Egypt and also 'limitations'!) and the world will be filled with peace, prosperity and brotherhood.
Wishing all our readers a Kosher, happy and REAL Passover with....
Copyright © 1999-2017 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.