This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Here are a few Chassidic ideas to enliven your Pesach Seder.
Pesach is the birthday of the Jewish people.
They went out only from their 'fetal' status in Egypt (Y'tziat Mitzraim) but from the entire creation (!) to become Sons of G-d (see Exodus 4:22); unique from all nations. What a unique past!
But the Exodus from Egypt is also the forerunner of the future final Redemption. As the Prophet says: "As the days of leaving Egypt, I will show you miracles" (Micha7:15). Then ALL the gentiles will worship ONLY the Creator and there will be world peace and prosperity.
A few of the commandments of this evening: 1) Saying the 'Hagadda' 2) Eating Matzah 3) Eating Morir and 4) Drinking four cups of wine all stress and underline these two ideas; past and future.
Let's look at each of them.
1) The Hagadda: Here we praise G-d for the past; taking us from Egypt. In fact the word 'Pesach' can be divided into 'Pe' (mouth) Sach (speaks). But praising G-d about His miracles changes us; bringing both into to our hearts and into world the power to transform the present moment into the future redemption.
2) MATZAH is called the food of affliction; reminding us of our suffering in Egypt but also 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 (which is a big sin to even possess); both are made from flour and water.
And they are even spelled similarly: Just that 'Chametz' contains the letter 'Chet' while Matzah has the almost identically shaped letter 'Hey'. The difference between them is a small opening at the top of the letter.
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, how a small opening to HaShem (even one good deed) can make a big difference….. and even 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 very bitterness will bring us to evoke G-d's mercy and make a new world.
4) The four cups represent the four types of redemption used in the Torah (Exodus 6:6,7). Each cup of wine is another step in both remembering the past redemption from Egypt and bringing out the joy and potential good in each of us [The numerical value of Wine (YYN =70)) is the same as 'Secret'("Sod')] to bring Moshiach and redeem the entire world.
Just like the wine is hidden in the grapes and must be revealed through squeezing; so through this two thousand year exile is enough to 'squeeze' us to reveal our potential G-dliness that can illuminate the entire world.
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 wine represents what his hidden and what is revealed.
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 can do even one more good deed, say one more good word or even think one more good thought to bring ...
Wishing all of our readers a Kosher and Happy Pesach in the Third Temple with Moshiach NOW!
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