GOOD MORNING! Many Jewish holidays have been humorously described as: "They wanted to kill us. We won. Let's eat." If you'd like to have your Pesach (Passover) Seder to be more than "Can we skip this part of the Hagaddah ... and Let's eat!", then this week's edition might be of help. The first Pesach Seder is Friday night, April 6th. Your seder can be an even more enjoyable, memorable and warm family experience.
How does one get his/her children to feel positively about being Jewish? You cannot transfer your feelings, but you can create the atmosphere and the experience which will engender positive feelings. Many people who love being Jewish, fondly reminisced about their Zaideh (grandfather) presiding over the Shabbat table or their Bubbie (grandmother) lighting Shabbat candles ... and their Seder! You are a link in that chain!
Q & A: HOW DO I MAKE MY SEDER ENJOYABLE,
CREATIVE AND MEANINGFUL?
Remember that the Seder is for the kids, to transmit our history and understanding of life. You've got to make it interesting and intrigue them to ask questions. If a person asks a question, he'll be inclined to hear the answer! The only way to transmit your love and feeling for Judaism is through shared, positive experiences. You need to be excited about the Seder! Some ideas from Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf:
1. Invest time before the Seder. Trade in your Maxwell House Hagaddah for one with commentary. Then read it! See what intrigues you. Look at a commentary to get interesting insights to share with your family and guests. Check out the Judaism in a Nutshell: Passover, Artscroll Haggadahs and Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov. Available at local Jewish bookstores or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242 ... or via JudaicaEnterprises.com . Also, excellent materials including an audio guide "How to Conduct the Passover Seder" are available at ChadishMedia.com !
2. Get Passover story books for the kids now! Read to them the stories before Pesach. Have them or help them make a little play to present at the Seder. Buy them Artscroll Children's Hagaddah!
3. Have quizzes and prizes. Ask questions and give 20 points for a right answer. 100 points and they get a prize! Start with the youngest and work up through the ages. If a child answers a question that's not his, he loses 20 points! Name the plagues, the 4 sons, the number of years in slavery -- make your list of questions before the Seder. (You can even prep the kids before the Seder with the answers!)
4. Plan out the Seder with little surprises and props. During the section on the plagues throw into the air plastic animals when you get to the Wild Beasts; use ping pong balls for the plague of Hail. Be creative. Give each child a brown paper bag filled with his props. Have fun! (you can also order the Bag of Plagues props available at your local Jewish bookstore -- or Amazon.com or plaguesbag.com -- or assemble your own!)
5. Have questions for discussion at the table! Passover marks the birth of the Jewish people. It's a time to reflect on the meaning, value and implications of being Jewish. Here are some questions to discuss:
- On a scale of 1-10, how important is being Jewish to you? Please explain.
- If your son, daughter, brother, sister, or best friend told you that they planned to raise their children without any Jewish education or identity, how would you react?
- If you thought the existence of Israel was in danger, would you risk your life to help save it?
- What do you like about being Jewish? What don't you like?
- Is it important to you or for your children to have mostly Jewish friends? Why?
Torah Portion of the Week
The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) primarily deals with what are commonly called "sacrifices" or "offerings." According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: a "sacrifice" implies giving up something that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another. An "offering" implies a gift which satisfies the receiver. The Almighty does not need our gifts. He has no needs or desires. The Hebrew word is korban, which is best translated as a means of bringing oneself into a closer relationship with the Almighty. The offering of korbanot was only for our benefit to come close to the Almighty.
Ramban, one of the essential commentaries on Torah, explains that through the vicarious experience of what happened to the animal korbanot, the transgressor realized the seriousness of his transgression. This aided him in the process of teshuva -- correcting his erring ways.
This week's portion includes the details of various types of korbanot: burnt offering, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer "blood" to gain atonement), the first grain offering, peace offering, unintentional sin offering (private and communal), guilt (for an intentional sin) offerings -- varied upon one's ability to pay, and an offering for personal use of something designated or belonging to the Tabernacle or the Temple.
* * *
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"If a person sins and commits a trespass against God, in that he has denied to his fellow man concerning that which was entrusted to his keep..." (Leviticus 5:21).
Why is denying the possession of an item entrusted to a person to watch a trespass against God?
Rabbi Akiva gave the following insight: "A person who deposits something with his fellow man does not want other people to know about it; he wants the matter to remain between the two of them and God. Therefore, when the recipient of the object denies that he received it, he denies God." He denies that God forbids his action, sees the act, cares what happens and he denies that ultimately God will mete out a consequence for his action. The Jewish concept of God is that He is the Creator, Sustainer and Supervisor; He is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good. He cares about each of us and gives us what we need to grow to our maximum potential.
Once when Rabbi Zundel Salanter was riding in a wagon, the driver passed by an apple tree and was overcome by the desire to take a few apples. Not realizing the identity of his passenger, the driver told him, "You keep watch and warn me if you see anyone looking." A few seconds later, Rav Zundel cried out, "Someone's looking!" The wagon driver jumped onto his wagon and rode off. As he was driving away, he looked back and did not see anyone.
"What's the idea of fooling me?" shouted the driver. "My dear friend," replied Rav Zundel, "I wouldn't lie to you. God sees every action!"
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 23
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 5:55 - Hong Kong 6:17 - Honolulu 6:25
J'Burg 5:57 - London 6:00 - Los Angeles 6:49
Melbourne 7:10 - Mexico City 6:30 - Miami 7:17
New York 6:54 - Singapore 6:56 - Toronto 7:16
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Live as if you were living a second time,
and as though you had acted wrongly the first time
-- Viktor Frankl
With Special Thanks to
Frank and Elaine Gelb