This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Passover (5769 (1))
Here are a few Chassidic ideas to enliven your Pesach Seder.
Pesach contains two seemingly opposite messages.
On one hand it is the birthday of the Jewish people.
In other words they went out only from Egypt (Y'tziat Mitzraim) but from the entire creation (!) to become part of the Creator. On this day the Jews became Sons of G-d (see Exodus 4:22) and separate from all the other nations.
On the other hand, the Exodus from Egypt is the forerunner ofthe future final Redemption by Moshiach. As the Prophet says: "As the days of leaving Egypt, I will show you miracles" (Micha7:15). Then the Jews will be involoved withwith all the nations; teaching them about the true nature of G-d.
But they are not really opposites. When the Jews left Egypt only 20% (or less) actually made it out because they weren't able to accept the revelation of G-d. Butthis was onlythe start. G-d took these Jews out in order to begin purifying and refining thephyicial world for the future redemption. Then not only all the Jews will be able to participate;ALL the gentiles will worship ONLY the Creator as well and there will be peace and prosperity for the entire world's population .
A few of the commandments of this evening: 1) Saying the Hagadda; Talking about how G-d took us from Egypt, 2) Eating Matzah 3) Eating Morir and 4) Drinking four cups of wine all strengthen and renew these opposites.
Let's look at each of them.
1) The Hagadda: The power of the Jews is in their mouths (prayer and Torah). In fact the word Pesach can be divided into 'Pe' (mouth) Sach (speaks). Talking and praising G-d about His miracles brings it both into to our hearts and also out to the world. It help us to remember who we are, feel how much HaShem loves us and gives us power to transform the present moment into the future redemption.
So on one hand it shows that we are helpless to conquer Pharaoh:('Pe' (mouth) 'Raoh' (evil)) and can only talk but on the other hand our speech awakens the ultimate power of the Creator. Two opposites.
2) MATZAH is called the food of faith and the food of healing. It symbolizes truth and humility.
Simple and unleavened it represents an attitude of unquestioning, childlike, complete surrender to the Creator; open to the infinite.
But interestingly it has the same exact ingredients as Chamtz; flour and water.
And is even spelled similarly: Both Ma Tza H and CHa Me Tz are spelled with Mem and TZadik. Just that 'Chametz' has the letter 'Chet' and Matzah instead has the almost identically shaped letter 'Hey'.The only difference between them is that 'Hey' has an opening at the top whileChet is closed.
So the only difference between them is that little opening.
It's a big sin to eat Chametz or even to posses it. It is a commandment to get rid of it some six hours before the holiday even starts and the custom is to begin to search and destroy the previous evening. Chametz …. closed at the top, represents false egotism; servitude to one's self which has no place on this holiday of freedom.
That little opening is the difference. That's why Matza gives us the feeling of how small we are and, simultaneously, if we are connected to HaShem we can fix the entire world.
3) MOROR is bitter and its letters (MROR) are the numerical value of Death (446). Paradoxically it is also connected with G-d's mercy [because it is put in the middle of the items on the Seder plate and according to Kabala mercy is in the 'middle' of the Ten Sferot].
Eating it reminds us of the bitter-as-death exile we are in and the even more-bitter fact that we don't really want to leave it. But on the other hand this will bring us to plead to G-d for mercy: that we should desire the redemption. Two opposites.
4) The four cups represent the four words for redemption used in the Torah (Exodus 6:6,7). Each cup of wine is another step in bringing out the redemption of the secret Jewish Soul in each of us [The letters of Wine (YYN) are the numerical value of 'Secret' (70)] and reveal our power to bring Moshiach and redeem the entire world.
Just like the wine is hidden in the grapes and must be squeezed out so through this two thousand year exile is enough to bring out the hidden G-dliness in each of us and, consequently, in the entire world as well.
And just as wine brings joy, so too, the only way we can bring our Jewish souls into action and manifest the redemption is through Joy. So winerepresents what his hidden and whatis revealed. Two opposites.
Finally, remember that when we open the door for Eliyahu, HaShem opens all the doors in heaven to our prayers; that is the time to REALLY request Moshiach NOW!!
To help feel all the above here is a story:
Some five years ago a young Chabad Chassid was invited by a Chabad house in Russia to make a Passover "Seder" in a nearby town.
The young man, recently ordained as a Rabbi, arrived several weeks before the holiday. He went, together with the Chabad representative that invited him, to the Mayor of that town to look for a suitable place to hold the festive ceremony. They were expecting several hundred people and needed a big hall.
After a few minutes the Mayor decided that the only place in his town that would serve their purposes was the Communist meeting hall. It seems that when the Communists were in power, they made sure that the biggest building in every town in Russia would be their party meeting hall. The Rabbis and the Mayor went and had a look, and sure enough the place was perfect.
Posters were put up, people were invited personally, and food was brought and prepared. All the vessels had to be new, all the meat had to be strictly Kosher, the cooking had to be supervised constantly so that no one would bring "Chametz"’ (leavened bread products) into the kitchen, and the building had to be completely cleaned, "koshered" and decorated.
All the work paid off. Some three hundred people arrived! Young and old, men and women, all dressed in their nicest clothes and with shining faces. Some came from nostalgia, some from curiosity, some for a good time. But everyone, whether they knew it or not, came because they were Jews and tonight was Passover.
It took a while to get everyone seated and settled. The Rabbi made a short welcoming speech telling them what to expect. For some of them it was their first "Seder" in fifty years, and for many the first in their lives. Hagaddas (Seder books) translated into Russian were handed out, cups were filled with wine, Matzot were distributed, and the evening began.
Everyone did what they were told with joy, and listened to the Rabbi's explanations with great interest. They all read aloud from their books about how G-d did great miracles thousands of years ago, and how He took the Jews out of Egypt. They all ate the Matza, drank four cups of wine, finished their holiday meal, sang, and even danced at the proper times.
Everything went smoothly until the cup of Elijah. This symbolic "extra" cup of wine is poured at the end of the meal to remind us of the imminent arrival of Moshiach. The young Chabad Rabbi explained with enthusiasm how this fifth cup stood for Moshaich who will arrive any moment to gather all the Jews and make a beautiful new world with the revelation of G-d everywhere etc.
Suddenly one of the older men stood up, tapped on the table and said in a booming voice, "Young man! Excuse me please young Rabbi!"
The place went silent and just as they all had listened to the Rabbi they now turned to the new speaker. He waited a few seconds and continued.
"We are very grateful to you for this beautiful evening with the wonderful food and wine. Everything is very nice. Very beautiful and very tasty." Everyone in the room turned to one another, shook their heads in agreement and wondered what he was getting at.
"Everything you said is also very interesting and nice." The man continued. "Beautiful stories; G-d took the Jews from Egypt, made miracles...very nice Bible stories. We all love stories.
But what you said about some Messiah coming and making a utopia, building a Holy Temple and all this. Please Rabbi, we are grown up people. We are not little children that we believe such nonsense! You are a very nice man and we are very grateful, but please save such foolish superstitions for your children not for intelligent grown-ups. Please understand us, dear Rabbi, nothing personal but you are a naive person. You have been locked up in Yeshiva (Rabbinical College) and we live in the real world"
Everyone again shook their heads in agreement. And looked sheepishly at the Rabbi as though to say "We are sorry, but he's right."
The young rabbi however did not loose his composure. He waited a few minutes and before the man sat down he replied.
"My friend" he said with a warm smile, "My friends!" he opened his arms and looked around the room.
"Do you realize where we are? Do you realize what we are doing? Do you realize what you are saying!?
If someone would have told you fifteen years ago that you would make a SEDER PESACH in the COMMUNIST MEETING HALL, would you believe them?
Why, fifteen years ago there was nothing more powerful and secure than Communism, and nothing weaker than Judaism! Communism was the complete opposite and biggest enemy of G-d and everyone in Russia was sure that Communism was right.
But here we are! The impossible has happened! Communism has not only fallen, it is becoming transformed to Judaism! So is it really so far-fetched that Moshiach can change the entire world?"
The man looked at the crowd then back at the young rabbi, straightened up, smiled broadly and said..."BRAVO!!". And the entire crowd broke into applause.
May this story repeat itself with each of us. May all the power we have inside: all the blessings, optimism and holiness come out to change everything around us so we all dance with...
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