This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Passover (5769 (2))
A few Insights for a Profoundly Exciting Seder
G-d took the Jews out of Egypt but He can't take Egypt out of the Jews. That is what this night is about.
1) BIRTH: Pesach celebrates the birth of the Jewish people. Just as a fetus has no identity or consciousness so the Jews in Egypt didn't know who they really were until G-d took them out.
So today, although we might not be aware of it we are imprisoned in a spiritual 'Egypt' now: We have little awareness that we are the sons of G-d and servants of the Creator of the Universe.
Tonight we must awaken this awareness, leave 'Egypt' and be born anew…. and this is done by putting Profoundly Exiting meaning into the details of this Seder Night.
2) The holiday is called Pesach and Chag HaMatzot.
'Pesach' is our praise of G-d; He Passed Over the Jews, smote only our enemies and freed us.
Chag HaMatzot is G-d's praise of us; that we went unquestioningly into the desert with only Matzot and faith.
3) FIRST COMMANDMENT: The belief that G-d took us from Egypt is the first and most important of the Ten Commandments: "I am G-d that took YOU (singular) out of Egypt." This is the same G-d that creates the Heavens and Earth every instant anew.
But He took the Jews from Egypt to teach the world Why He creates it. Namely that mankind should follow the Torah (613 commandments for the Jews and 7 for the gentiles).
4) Tonight we must REMEMBER:
a) the Exodus of 3,321 years ago
b) G-d exists and controls the world
c) G-d cares
d) G-d loves us
e) G-d does miracles and will HELP in our daily life
f) This night is a preparation for a similar, greater, final redemption which could happen NOW!
5) Without Moses the Jews would have never left Egypt.
Therefore according to the Zohar there must be a 'Moses' in every generation to keep the Jews aware they are Jews and ultimately this 'Moses' will be Moshiach.
6) Moses is mentioned only once in the HaGada (After the Ten Plagues in; 'RabbiYosi HaGalili omer') where he is likened to G-d: "They believed in G-d and Moses His servant." (Ex. 14:31)]
7) LEANING: Every time we eat Matzot and drink wine we should lean to the left indicating freedom. Leaning makes the head and body almost level. In a deeper sense, the only way to be ready for miracles of the type that took us from Egypt is to put our mind (head) and body at almost the same level.
8) The three Matzot remind us of the Three Avot Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. The top Matza corresponds to Avraham who advertised G-d's kindness to mankind.
The middle Matza to Issac who represented G-d's Power (he dug wells and transformed desert to inhabitable land) The bottom to Yaakov who began to demonstrate G-d's beauty (Twelve Tribes) in the world.
9) YA'CHATZ: Therefore we break the middle Matza (Yachatz) to modify and articulate G-d's power and we use half of it at the end of the meal (as the Afikomen in place of the Paschal Lamb) to show that the final redemption will come through the power Yitzchak (positive change).
10) At the beginning of the HaGada we announce: "Anyone who is hungry come eat, anyone who needs come eat the Pesach meal." Here we are echoing G-d's invitation to the Jews 'anyone who is hungry for or needs spirituality tonight I will provide it. You just have to ASK'.
11) MA?: Therefore the entire Hagada begins with questions; because the essence of Judaism is education. And if we don't ask we won't learn.
12) JOY: The four cups of wine correspond to the four terms of Redemption found in Ex 4:6-8.
Just as Wine reveals what was hidden in the grapes and the joy hidden in those that drink it so the redemption will reveal the true Joy hidden in the entire Creation. (It is a good idea to dance with joy at some point in the Seder).
13) The four cups also correspond to the four 'Mothers' Sarah, Rivka, Rochel and Leah who revealed the blessings of their husbands into the world by giving birth to and 'revealing' the next generation.
14 ) The four questions as they are asked in Chabad are a) Dipping b) Matza c) Moror d) leaning. (So is the order in Talmud Yerushalmi and elsewhere).
Matza is a commandment from the Torah, Moror is from the Rabbis, Leaning is from the Talmud but dipping is only a custom.
The reason we place 'Dipping' first is to show that Jewish customs, because they are added of our own free will, can have a deeper, more personal and permanent effect than even the commandments.
15) FOOD of FAITH: When eating Matza remember that Matza is called the Food of Faith. The faith that is unique to the Jewish people is not just that G-d exists and gives us life but even more: that G-d creates all being; including each of us... constantly from nothing.
Although this defies common sense and human understanding, deep in every Jew it is a certainty. And it is strengthened by eating Matza.
This is the true meaning of the 'Motto' of Judaism "Shma Yisroel …. G-d is ONE". (for details see Matza Zu in Lekuti Torah).
16) Door prize: When we open the door for Elijah the prophet G-d opens all the doors for us… it's a good time to ask for what we need. Especially for Moshiach NOW!
17) NO END?: Many Hagaddas end with the words "Chasal Seder Pesach" literally, 'We've completed the Passover Seder".
But Chabad does not say these words to stress that this evening never really ends. We must constantly leave our person Egypts and also constantly strive for the ultimate freedom and self awareness that only Moshiach will bring.
Here is very meaningful Pesach story I heard a year or two ago.
Once there was a pupil of the Baal Shem Tov (Besh't for short) who we will call Avraham that wanted very badly to have a revelation of Elijah the prophet (Eliahu HaNavi).
Elijah the prophet was a great man of G-d in the middle of the FirstHolyTemple some 2,200 years before the Baal Shem Tov (300 years ago) who did not die! Rather he was taken in a wind to heaven (Kings 2:2:11) and since then regularly appears to help people and to reveal secrets of the Torah. In fact it will be Elijah who will announce the arrival of Moshiach.
Avraham was a bit ashamed. Usually Elijah only appears to great Tzadikim and it was pretentious of him to consider himself so but he simply couldn't stop thinking about it. So he decided to ask the master.
To Avraham's surprise the Baal Shem Tov not only agreed he gave him instructions how to do it.
"Load a wagon with enough meat, fish, wine and matzot for three people for two days, travel to such-and-such a house in a nearby village, spend the two days of Pesach there and you will see Elyahu HaNavi."
The enthralled Chassid did exactly what he was told and a few days later he was knocking at the door of a run down hut that was the address he was looking for. A poor, old Jewish couple opened the door and couldn’t believe their eyes when he told them the Besh't had sent him and began unloading all the food.
For two entire days Avraham was on edge. All his senses were open for anything that might be a sign of Elijah especially during the two Seder nights. But it didn't happen. Not the first night, not the next day nor then next night nor the day after that. Nothing. No one said anything unusual to him nor did he see or notice anything out of the ordinary.
The holiday ended and our totally disappointed and heartbroken Chassid thanked the couple bade them farewell, got in his carriage and returned to the Baal Shem Tov bearing sad news that his promise didn't work.
The Besh't listened deeply and frowned.
"Can't be!" he said as he shook his head in negation. "There must be some mistake." He thought for a moment and continued, "Listen, I'm sure the old couple are still awake getting their house in order after the holiday. Go back to the village, park your carriage a distance away from their home, stand outside their window and listen to what they say."
Again Avraham did as he was told and an hour later he was standing under the window of his Pesach hosts straining his ears to catch a sentence or even a word.
Suddenly he heard the woman say to her husband clearly. "Zalman, please give me that tray, I'll put it right here…..... Zalman, you know, I've been thinking, that guest we had wasn't he wonderful!
"Ahhh!" Zalman answered. "Ahhh! What a blessing! To have a Chassid of the Baal Shem Tov in our house! What a blessing! "
"No Zalman," she said "That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is if you ask me that was no regular person. If you ask me that was Elijah the Prophet!"
Suddenly Avraham understood; the Baal Shem Tov was teaching him and us that we don't know who we are and how much potential of good we have. Each of us has the power to bring redemption and blessing to the world.
One good deed, word, or even thought; one commandment or word of Torah or prayer can tip the scale and take us all out of Egypt with...
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