GOOD MORNING!  An elderly American was waiting in line for Passport Control at Charles de Gaulle Airport. While fumbling for his passport, the passport control agent chastised him, "You should have your passport ready! Everyone knows you cannot enter France without a passport!" The American softly replied, "You know, the last time I visited France no one asked for my passport." "Impossible!" declared the Passport Agent, "No one enters France without a passport!" "Well," responds the American, "I can guarantee you that when my unit hit Omaha Beach on D-Day there was no Frenchman there asking me if I had a passport!" Then the American asked the Frenchman, "Excuse me, but do you speak German? In a huff, the Frenchman replied, "Of course not!" To which the American quietly responded, "You're welcome."

How, you might ask, does this connect to Pesach? First, one of the obstacles to spirituality (as well as good human relations) is arrogance. As you will see below, there is a connection between chametz (the leaven that we are to remove from our homes and our hearts) and arrogance. Second, the Haggadah is built around questions -- it is important to have good questions ... and good answers. Third, if you can share a story with someone and lighten his or her burden with a laugh -- then you have earned your keep for the day.

Q & A: WHY THE EMPHASIS ON PESACH
TO BE CHAMETZ-FREE?

On Pesach we are forbidden to own chametz (leavened bread - i.e. virtually any flour product not especially produced for Pesach) or have it in our possession. On the evening preceding Pesach there is a serious search of the home for chametz. This is also why it is very important to purchase Matzah specifically marked "For Passover Use".

Chametz represents arrogance ("puffing up"). Passover is the time of freedom -- spiritual freedom (which is the essence of why the Almighty brought us out of Egypt). As I've mentioned before, the only thing that stands between you and God ... is you. To come close to the Almighty (which is the essence of life and the opportunity of every mitzvah and holiday), one must remove his arrogance. This is the lesson of removing the chametz from our possession.

Freedom means having the ability to use your free will to grow and develop. People think they are free when really they are "slaves" to the fads and fashions of their 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 freedom.

One of the freedoms to work on during Pesach is "freedom of the mouth." The sages view the mouth as the most dangerous part of the body. It is the only organ that can cause problems in both directions -- what comes in (food and drink) and what goes out (speech). It is so dangerous that it has two coverings -- hard teeth and soft lips. Most of us are slaves to the mouth, both in what we eat and in what we speak.

On Seder night we fix this. We have the mitzvah to speak about the Jewish people leaving Egypt to elevate speech, and the matzah and Four Cups of wine to elevate eating and drinking.

The structure of the Hebrew language hints at the goal of "freedom of the mouth." Pesach can be divided into two words: Peh Sach, which means "the mouth speaks" -- we are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus the whole night. The Hebrew word, Paroh, (Pharaoh, the persecutor of the Jewish people in the Pesach story) can be divided into two words: Peh Rah, a "bad mouth." Our affliction of the slavery in Egypt was characterized as Perach, (difficult work) which can be read as two words: Peh Rach, "a loose mouth."

May we all merit on this Pesach to free ourselves from the "bad mouth," and to overcome the "loose mouth" where too much of the wrong food and drink come in and too many inappropriate words slip out.

 

Torah Portion of the week

Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17; Numbers 28:19-26

This Shabbat has a special reading for the Eighth Day of Pesach. It includes the Second Tithe (the first tithe being taken for the Cohen and Levite) of one's crop which was to be eaten in Jerusalem; remission of loans in the Shemita year (the seventh year of a seven year cycle); take care of the destitute; the Jewish slave; the three pilgrimage festivals -- Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot -- where the Jewish people were commanded to go up to Jerusalem. The portion from the Book of Numbers deals with the mitzvot of the Pesach holiday.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And you shall rejoice before the Lord, your God, you and your son, and your daughter and your servant and your maid, and the Levite that is within your gates, and the convert, and the orphan and the widow that are in your midst" (Deut. 16:11).

Rashi cites the Sifre which points out that in this verse we have a list of four members of a person's household: his son, his daughter, servant and maid. We also have four that are needy: the Levite, convert, orphan and widow. The Almighty says, "If you take care of My four, I will take care of your four." We learn from here that by helping the needy we merit that our needs are taken care of as well; the Almighty responds to us measure for measure.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states regarding helping the poor:

"You shall surely open your hand unto him and shall surely lend him sufficient for his need which he lacks" (Deut 15:8).

What are the details of this mitzvah, commandment?

We are told that we must give charity to a poor person. What if the person doesn't want to take it? Rashi, the great commentator, tells us to then give the person the money as a present or a loan.

It is a positive commandment to give charity to the needy with happiness and a good heart. The mitzvah of giving tzedakah (charity) does not only apply to giving aid to the poor. To aid a wealthy person when he needs assistance is also a fulfillment of the mitzvah of tzedakah. Furthermore, whenever you give pleasure to others, whether it be through money, food, or comforting words, you fulfill this mitzvah. The Rambam (Moshe Maimonedes) writes that he never saw or heard of a city in which there lived ten Jews that did not have a charity fund (Hilchos Matnos Aniyim 9:3).

The word the Sages used for charity is tzedakah, which literally means "righteousness" or "justice." This term illuminates the Torah's concept of charity. It is not merely a charitable act to give to the poor; it is the obligation of every single person to do the right thing, the just thing.

 

Candle Lighting Times

THURSDAY, April 5
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)

Jerusalem 6:26
Guatemala 5:57 - Hong Kong 6:22 - Honolulu 6:30
J'Burg 5:44 - London 7:22 - Los Angeles 6:59
Melbourne 5:50 - Mexico City 7:34 - Miami 7:21
New York 7:07 - Singapore 6:53 - Toronto 7:31


Quote of the Week

A good laugh and a long sleep are
the two best cures for anything
--  Irish proverb

 

 

With Deep Appreciation to

Mr. Lee Sandau
 
 
With Special Thanks to

James & Patricia Cayne

 

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Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Copyright © 2018 Rabbi Kalman Packouz