Now is the time to buy your wine and matzos -- and to prepare the insights you wish to share at the Seder! Robert Heinlein once said, "A generation which ignores history has no past and no future." Learn, share and help create a future! The Seders are Friday night, April 6th and Saturday night, April 7th.
Q & A: WHAT IS PESACH (PASSOVER)
AND HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?
There are five mitzvot (commandments) for the Passover Seder, two from the Torah and three from our Sages. The two mitzvot from the Torah are to eat matza ("In the evening you shall eat unleavened bread" -- Exodus 12:18) and to tell the story of our exodus from Egypt ("And you shall relate to your son [the story of the Exodus] on this day" -- Exodus 13:9). The rabbis added the mitzvot of drinking the four cups of wine, eating marror (bitter herbs) and reciting Hallel (Psalms of praise for the Almighty). During the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, there were 16 additional mitzvot associated with the Pesach offering.
All of these commandments are to help us re-experience the Exodus and to feel and strengthen our sense of freedom. The mitzvot are to experience either the affliction or the redemption.
The matza is called "lechem ani" -- the bread of the poor man and "lechem oni" -- the bread of affliction. In a play on pronunciation, the Sages also called it the bread over which many things are answered. It has the dual symbolism of representing our affliction and our redemption.
The four cups of wine represent the four different terms for our redemption in the Torah (Exodus 6:6-7). Wine is the drink of free people! Bitter herbs is affliction (just look at the faces of those eating horseradish!) And Hallel is our thanks to the Almighty for our redemption and freedom.
Passover is the "Holiday of Freedom" -- spiritual freedom. The Almighty brought us out of Egypt to serve Him and to be free. Isn't this a contradiction? What is the essence of freedom?
Is freedom the ability to do what one desires unhampered and without consequence? That is license, not freedom. James Bond had a "license to kill," not the freedom to kill. Freedom means having the ability to use your free will to grow and to develop.
Our leaving Egypt led us to Mt. Sinai and the acceptance upon ourselves the yoke of Torah. This is the centerpiece of our freedom. It sets the boundaries of right and wrong, it sets forth the means to perfect ourselves and the world we live in, it defines ultimate meaning and satisfaction in life. Only with boundaries does one have the ability to grow and develop. Otherwise, with unlimited license, life is out of control.
People think they are free when they throw off the yoke of the Torah. However, unless one has the revealed wisdom of the Torah, he is at risk at becoming a "slave" to the fads and fashion of his society. Slavery is non-thinking action, rote behavior, following the impulse desires of the body. Our job on Pesach is to come out of slavery into true freedom and to develop a closer relationship with the Almighty!
During all eight days of Pesach we are forbidden to own or eat chametz (leavened bread -- i.e., virtually any flour product not especially produced for Pesach) or have it in our possession (Exodus 13:7). Why the emphasis on being chametz-free? Chametz represents arrogance ("puffing up"). The only thing that stands between you and God ... is you. To come close to the Almighty, which is the ultimate pleasure in life and the opportunity of every mitzvah and holiday, one must remove his own personal barriers. The external act brings the internal appreciation -- we remove chametz from our homes and likewise work on the character trait of humility.
To understand more about Passover and to have fascinating ideas to share at the Seder, go to: Aish.com/Pesach. Check out: "All in the Seder"; "It Ain't Over 'til it's Passover"; The ABC's of Passover"; and "The Passover Primer -- An inspiring and thought-provoking compendium of articles."
Torah Portion of the Week
This week's Torah portion includes the laws of: the Burnt Offering, Meal Offering, High Priest's Offering, Sin Offerings, Guilt Offerings and Peace Offerings. It concludes with the portions of the Peace Offerings which are allotted to the Priests and the installation ceremony of the Priest for serving in the Sanctuary.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states regarding the offering of a specific sacrifice:
"If for thanksgiving he offers it, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and fine flour soaked and made into cakes mingled with oil" (Leviticus 7:12).
What possible lesson can we learn from the bread brought with the sacrifice?
When a person's life is in danger and he is saved, it is incumbent upon him to bring a karbon todah, a thanksgiving offering. Together with the offering he also brought forty loaves of bread in four different forms. One of each kind was given to the Kohen. The remaining thirty-six were his to eat -- however, there was a time limit. He had the remainder of the day and the following night to consume them.
The Sforno, the great 16th century Italian commentator, comments that the purpose of this extremely short time period was to ensure that he would share the bread with others. This would ultimately publicize the fortunate event. The lesson for us: Publicize your joy and gratitude to the multitudes for the Almighty's kindnesses, but seek one sympathetic and understanding listener for the problems. Share joy with others and your life will be more joyous.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 30
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
With Deep Appreciation to
Daniel & Lillian Kamis
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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