GOOD MORNING! Three weeks to Pesach and counting ... It's time to give some thought to making the Seder more enjoyable and effective in creating a warm family experience. Most Jews would like their 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. Anyone I have ever met who loved 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! Check out aish.com/holidays. Here are some ideas from Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf's Passover Survival Kit:
- As mentioned last week, 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 Passover Survival Kit, Artscroll Haggadahs and Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov. Available at local Jewish bookstores or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242. NO EXCUSES!
- 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!
- 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!)
- 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 call toll-free 877-758-3242, they have a special: Bag of Plagues plus an Artscroll Hagaddah for $19.95 including postage).
- 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, a noted Spanish rabbi, explained 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, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer "blood" to gain atonement), first grain, peace, sin (private and communal), guilt korbanot (varied upon one's ability to pay), korban for inadvertently expropriating something sacred to God, and also to help atone for dishonesty.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah gives instructions for offering various types of flour offerings prepared in different manners:
"And if you bring near a flour offering baked in the oven ... and if your offering is a flour offering baked in a pan ... and if your offering is a flour offering baked in a pot..." (Leviticus 2:4,5,7)
What is the deeper meaning behind each of these different offerings?
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains: The Mincha, flour offering, expresses our appreciation to the Almighty for our happiness in life. Minchat solet, the fine flour offering, has many forms of preparations to focus us on appreciating from the basic necessities of life to the wonderful "extras" with which we have been blessed.
The offerings are baked in an oven , a pan and a pot corresponding to bread, cake and specially prepared dishes. Bread is ordinary food, a necessity for happy daily life. Cake signifies the extra enjoyment, the historically unusual condition of luxury. The specially prepared dish is for a special occasion, the temporary, passing moment of a unique joy. Our lesson: focus and appreciate each and every thing in our lives as a gift from the Almighty, Who loves us and cares for us!
PIRKEI AVOT 1:12
"... Be among the disciples of Aaron, loving peace, pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to Torah." -- Hillel
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 15:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:58 Hong Kong 6:14 Honolulu 6:23
J'Burg 6:06 London 5:46 Los Angeles 5:43
Melbourne 7:22 Miami 6:12 Moscow 6:14
New York 5:45 Singapore 6:59
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Even if you're on the right track,
if you stand still
you'll get run over by the next train.
-- Will Rogers
In memory of