This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Passover (5763 (1))
The holiday of Pesach celebrates the birth of the Jewish people. The Jews in Egypt were likened to a fetus in it's mother's womb (almost completely unconscious of its true identity). And the Exodus can be liked to birth.
But what is so special about birth? The real miracle is the development of the parent's seed into a child WITHIN the womb. Birth is nothing more than REVEALING the hidden baby. So why do we make such a big ceremony from Passover? Or about birthdays?
To understand this here are two stories.
There were once two beggars that used to go around begging together. One was Jewish and the other a gentile. As the night of Passover approached the Jewish beggar offered to help his friend get invited to a Seder (festive Passover meal accompanied by many commandments and rituals) and get a good meal.
His gentile friend happily agreed. The night of Passover they went to the Synagogue, and sure enough, both got invited to different homes for the festive cermony.
Hours later they met in a predetermined place in the local park to share their experiences but to the amazement of the Jew the gentile was blazing mad.
"What did you do to me?!" He shouted. "What did you do!?? It was a catastophe! What! You call that a meal? It was torture!! It was hell!! I'll get even, you'll see!!"
"What happened?" The Jew asked.
"What happened?! As if you didn't know! You Jews are crazy that's what happened!! First we drank a glass of wine. My head started spinning a bit but I figured that any second we would begin the meal. The smell of the food from the kitchen was great. Then we ate a bit of parsley. Then they started talking, and talking, and talking. All the time I'm smiling and nodding my head like you told me but my head is really swimming and hurting from the wine and I'm dying of hunger.
"The smell of the food from the kitchen is making me insane but they don't bring it out. For two hours they don't bring anything out!! Just talking, and more talking. My head is throbbing like a drum. Then, just what I needed.... another cup of wine! Then we get up, wash hands, sit back down and eat this big wafer called Mazza that tastes like newspaper as fast as possible leaning to the left, I started choking, almost threw up. And then finally they give me this lettuce, I took a big bite and wham!! My mouth was on fire! My throat!! There was horseradish inside!!! Nothing to eat but horseradish!! You guys are nuts!! I just got up and left! Enough is enough!!!!"
"Ahh, I should have told you!" replied the Jew. "What a shame. After the bitter herbs is a glorious meal. You suffered so long; you should have just held out for a few more minutes!!"
Here is the second story.
It was the last (eighth) day of Passover in Brooklyn New York 1952 at one of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Farbringens (public discourses). It was two years after the passing of the previous Rebbe and one year after his son-in- law and successor, Rabbi Menachem Shneerson, began to lead the Chabad Chassidim.
Early in the Farbrengen one of the Chassidim by the name of Rabbi Beryl Junik, came up to the Rebbe with a desperate request. "Please give me a piece of Matza for my brother M…"
Beryl's brother had been caught four years earlier, for the second time, trying to escape from Stalin's Russia with forged papers. The first time he was imprisoned for a year but this time they showed no mercy; he was sentenced to death. But for some unknown reason his sentence had been 'lowered' to 25 years in prison and five more in Siberia.
But that was virtually the same thing as a death sentence; there was no way a Jew could survive even a few months in jail or a few days in Siberia; millions of people died there. But hoping against all hope Beryl was standing in Brooklyn asking for the Matza.
The Rebbe gave him a large piece and said "Send this to your brother."
Beryl was so excited he could hardly speak… his brother must be alive!! The Rebbe gave him the Matza!!
But after a few hours he calmed down. How could he send the Matza to his brother? Communication from outside of Russia into Russia was almost impossible and to a prisoner was out of the question.
He again approached the Rebbe and asked quickly. "Rebbe, how should I do it?"
The Rebbe answered. "You can give it to him when he arrives here. And by 'here' I don't necessarily mean The United States. I mean when he leaves Russia."
Beryl was overjoyed. After the Farbringen he rushed home to tell his father and family the good news. His brother would be free! But a year passed, then another and no news. The family was getting nervous. Beryl would ask for more instructions. He arranged to have Yechidut (private audience) with the Rebbe and that would calm his father down.
The day of Yechidut arrived. He entered the Rebbe's office, closed the door behind him and approached the Rebbe's desk. The Rebbe was reading something, his desk was stacked with letters and other papers. The room was deafeningly silent. The Rebbe looked up.
"Rebbe" Beryl said, almost in tears, "I know that you said that my brother would get out of Siberia and that gave us great encouragement. But it's already been more than two years since then. Wy father asked me to ask the Rebbe to promise. Can the Rebbe please give his promise that my brother M… will go free?"
The Rebbe looked at him strangly and answered. "Why do you demand such things? My father in law (the previous Rebbe) overcame bigger obstacles than this and he will overcome this one as well!"
With these words the Rebbe burst out crying and wept for several minutes.
Weeks later they received the news that their brother had been unexplainably freed completely! He had served only two years in prison, then five more in Siberia and now had been released totally!!
But the story was not over; despite his many requests for a visa to leave the country, the Russian government refused. M..... was still not free. But the words of the Rebbe still echoed in Beryl's ears, "You can give it to him when he arrives here. And by 'here' I don't necessarily mean The United States. I mean when he leaves Russia."
Sixteen years later, in 1971, Beryl got a surprise telephone call; it was his brother. He had received a visa the day before, bought a ticket immediately and would arrive in Canada tomorrow!
He arrived on Chol HaMoed Pesach almost exactly nineteen years to the day after the Rebbe made his promise and needless to say Beryl was waiting for him in the airport with that piece of Matza the Rebbe gave him for just this occasion. He and his brother made a festive meal of wine and the Rebbe's Matza of faith and freedom.
This is the unique thing about birth.
Just as in our stories the main thing was bringing the meal out from the kitchen or Beryl's brother out of Russia so also the entire purpose of Creation is revelation; affecting this physical world with the Torah.
There is a world of difference between potential and actual.
That is why we see only too often that the most beautiful philosophies, religions and plans aren't so beautiful when revealed; today all the gentile nations, including their humane leaders, altruistic philosophers and genius professors, find reason to hate the Jews (and how even the most religious Jews hated King Dovid, Moses, all the prophets etc).
Because in THEORY everything can be perfect and harmonious; the problems begin when things are revealed. (In fact the Shulchan Aruch begins with "Don't be ashaimed from scoffers")
That is what we celebrate on Pesach. We celebrate the fact the fact that G-d always sends great leaders. In every generation there is a Moses; one who is fitting to be Moshiach, who will bring out and reveal ALL the treasures hidden in the Jewish people and in the Torah.
May G-d help us to open our eyes and SEE all this in a REVEALED way (After all we Jews have suffered so long - like the begger in the first story) it certainly is time for Moshiach NOW!!
Have a Kosher and Happy Pesach!!
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