GOOD MORNING! What if there were a total eclipse of the moon Monday at 3 a.m., but Wednesday at 10 a.m. was more convenient for you to view it? You'd miss the experience. Timing is everything. Well, the Jewish people has an appointment with the Almighty Monday evening March 25th to celebrate the first Seder. It is a special time infused with spiritual opportunity. Having your Seder on the weekend because it's more convenient is like showing up for a job interview or to vote on the wrong day...
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!
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. It has the dual symbolism of representing our affliction (we ate it while slaves) and our redemption (we hastily made matza to eat when we left Egypt).
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 men! 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:
"Then (the Kohen/the priest) shall take off his garments and put on other garments and carry forth the ashes out of the camp unto a pure place" (Leviticus 6:4).
What lesson do we learn from the ceremonious taking out the ashes from the altar each morning?
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch comments that the taking out of the ashes that remained on the altar from the previous day expresses the thought that with each new day, the Torah mission must be accomplished afresh, as if nothing had yet been accomplished. Every new day calls us to our mission with new devotion and sacrifice. The thought of what has already been accomplished can be the death of that which is still to be accomplished. Woe unto him who with smug self-complacency thinks he can rest on his laurels, on what he has already achieved, and who does not meet the task of every fresh day with full devotion as if it were the first day of his life's work!
"Carry forth the ashes out of the camp." Every trace of yesterday's sacrifice is to be removed from the hearth on the Altar, so that the service of the new day can be started on completely fresh ground. Given these considerations, we can understand the law that prescribes the wearing of worn-out garments when one is occupied with the achievements of the previous day. The past is not to be forgotten. However, it is to be retired to the background, and is not to invest us with pride before the fresh task to which each new day calls us. (Rabbi Hirsch's commentary)
Rabbi Hirsch lived in the 1800's. In today's vernacular, we might say, "Yesterday is a canceled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is cash. Spend it wisely!"
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 22
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Appearance without substance is meaningless
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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