GOOD MORNING!  Our Sages instruct us to start preparing for a holiday 30 days in advance of the holiday. Pesach (Passover) begins Monday evening, April 10th!

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 Seder to be more than "Can we skip this part of the Hagaddah ... and Let's eat!", then this week's edition will be of help. Your Seder can be an even more enjoyable, memorable and warm family experience -- if you put the time into preparing!

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!

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! Visit a Jewish book store and see what intrigues you. Look at a commentary to get interesting insights to share with your family and guests. A few suggestions: Judaism in a Nutshell: Passover, Artscroll Haggadahs and The Exodus You Almost Passed Over by Rabbi David Fohrman. 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 theplaguesbag.com -- or assemble your own!)

5. Delegate. Give your kids or guests a small part of the Haggadah to prepare. They can look at a Haggadah with commentary -- or go to Aish.com and search. It involves them and makes them a part of the Seder rather than being an observer.

6. 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:

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how important is being Jewish to you? Please explain.
  2. 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?
  3. If you thought the existence of Israel was in danger, would you risk your life to help save it?
  4. What do you like about being Jewish? What don't you like?
  5. Is it important to you or for your children to have mostly Jewish friends? Why?

7. Spend time at Aish.com/pesach and AishAudio.com ... and for more on Pesach! And be sure to see the Aish video "The Google Exodus" -- What would the Exodus have looked like if Moses had the internet?

 

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Torah Portion of the week

Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11 - 34:35

The Torah portion includes: instructions for taking a census (by each person donating a half shekel); instructions to make the Washstand, Anointing Oil, and The Incense for the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary; appointing Betzalel and Oholiab to head up the architects and craftsmen for the Mishkan; a special commandment forbidding the building of the Mishkan on Shabbat (people might have thought that they would be allowed to violate the Shabbat to do a mitzvah ...). "The Children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath an eternal covenant for their generations."

The Torah portion continues with the infamous story of the Golden Calf. The people wrongly calculated that Moses was late in coming down from Mt. Sinai and the people were already seeking a replacement for him by making the Golden Calf (there is a big lesson in patience for us here). Moses sees them dancing around the calf and expressing anger he breaks the Two Tablets; he then punishes the 3,000 wrongdoers (less than .1% of the 3 million people), pleads to God not to wipe out the people, requests to see the Divine Glory, and receives the second set of Tablets of the Ten Commandments.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"Six days you shall work and on the seventh day, it should be a complete rest sacred to the Almighty" (Exodus 31:15).

What does it mean "a complete rest"?

Rashi, the great commentator, tells us that rest on Shabbat should be a permanent rest and not merely a temporary rest. Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, the former Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of the Mir Yeshiva, clarifies that a temporary rest means that a person has not really changed his inner traits, but he merely controls them on Shabbat. He still has a bad temper and has a tendency to engage in quarrels, but because of the elevation of Shabbat, he has the self-discipline not to manifest these traits. The ultimate in Shabbat observance is that a person should uproot those negative traits which are contradictory to peace of mind on Shabbat. One needs to uproot such traits as anger and the tendency to quarrel with others. Only then is your rest on Shabbat a complete rest.

It is not sufficient for a person just to refrain from the formal categories of creative acts on Shabbat. Shabbat is the gift of peace of mind. This is not considered righteousness, but an essential aspect of Shabbat. Only by being a master over your negative emotions can you have true peace of mind -- and elevate yourself spiritually!

 

Candle Lighting Times

March 17
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)

Jerusalem 5:13
Guatemala 5:55 - Hong Kong 6:15 - Honolulu 6:24
J'Burg 6:04 - London 5:51 - Los Angeles 6:45
Melbourne 7:18 - Mexico City 6:29 - Miami 7:13
New York 6:47 - Singapore 6:58 - Toronto 7:08


Quote of the Week

The optimist knows that setbacks are:
1) Not personal, but external
2) Not permanent, but temporary
3) Not pervasive, but specific
--  Martin Seligman

 

 

With Special Thanks to
Suzanne Gerard
 
With Deep Appreciation to
Joseph Wenger

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Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Copyright © 2018 Rabbi Kalman Packouz