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GOOD MORNING! The first Seder is Wednesday evening, April 16th. Enjoy the following!
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 either experience 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 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 G-d ... 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.
FEED THE POOR OF JERUSALEM!
Hundreds of families in Israel are unable to afford groceries for Yom Tov (the holiday).
This group gives them coupons redeemable only for food. They arrange with the supermarket to get an extra 10% on every dollar you give them. I know they are legitimate and I give them money!
Send your tax-deductible contribution to:
805-A Roosevelt Court
Far Rockaway, NY 11691
Fulfill the special Mitzvah of Maos Chitim, helping the poor for Pesach!
Torah Portion of the Week
The Torah continues with the laws of physical and spiritual purity. The focus of this portion is upon tzora'as, a supernatural physical affliction sent to warn someone to refrain from speaking badly about others. The disease progressively afflicted home, clothes and then one's skin - unless the individual corrected his ways and followed the purification process stated in the Torah.
There are two types of speech transgressions: (1) Loshon Hora (literally "evil tongue") - making a derogatory or damaging statement about someone even though you are speaking the truth. (2) Rechilus (literally "tale bearing") - telling someone the negative things another person said about him or did against him. Check out http://www.chofetzchaimusa.com/ for daily lessons in Shmirat HaLoshon, proper speech -- or call (800) 867-2482 for books and tapes! Also, check out http://www.aish.com/stopLH for "The 10 Rules of Loshon Hora".
This week's portion continues with the purification process for the metzora, the person afflicted with tzora'as and then the home afflicted with tzora'as. The portion ends with the purification process for discharges from the flesh.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Regarding the purification process of a metzora, the Torah states:
"And the Cohen shall take one lamb and offer it for a guilt offering." (Leviticus 14:12)
Why does the person bring a guilt offering?
A guilt offering is brought when one is guilty of desecrating that which is holy. The reason? Tzora'as comes from speaking negatively against someone and for arrogance. Both are aspects of desecrating the Almighty.
When someone speaks against another person, he usually does so in private and wants to make certain that he is not overheard by other people. This is a lack of awareness that the Almighty hears everything. By bringing the guilt offering, the metzora gives thought to how he has previously lacked a proper awareness of the omniscience and omnipotence of the Almighty and will begin to internalize this understanding.
Although we do not have offerings in our times, by reading about the offerings we can internalize the messages that they teach us. The message here is that we should be very careful with what we say about others because the Almighty hears us. Similarly, we should be aware of how small and powerless we are in comparison to the Creator and this will prevent us from becoming arrogant. Arrogance comes from comparing oneself with others who have less talents, abilities, knowledge. All one needs to do is compare oneself to the Almighty and the arrogance will disappear.
PIRKEI AVOT 2:21
"You are not required to finish the task, yet you are not free to desist from it. If you studied much Torah, you will receive great reward. Your Employer can be relied upon to pay the wages of your work, but know that the reward of the righteous is in the World to Come."
-- Rabbi Tarfon
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 11:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:56 Hong Kong 6:23 Honolulu 6:29
J'Burg 5:38 London 7:30 Los Angeles 7:03
Melbourne 5:38 Miami 7:23 Moscow 7:08
New York 7:12 Singapore 6:53
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Life is what happens
while you're making other plans.
With Thanks to