Passover (first day)(Exodus 12:21-51)
Passover (first day) 5769
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The Torah Portion for Shabbat,
April 19, 2003 is a special reading for the holiday of Passover. The Torah Portion for Acharei Mot will be read on Shabbat, April 26.
GOOD MORNING! Well, another "Pharaoh" (Saddam) who enslaved his people has bit the dust, at this time of our celebration of our liberation from slavery in Egypt! Here is one last shot at enhancing your Pesach Seder experience for you, your family and your guests! My colleague and friend, Rabbi Stephen Baars, created the "Freedom Game" to enable a lively discussion during the Seder Meal. Just give everyone a copy!
THE PASSOVER - "FREEDOM GAME"
by Rabbi Stephen Baars
Aish HaTorah Washington, DC
Of the following list, who is the most enslaved person and who is the most free?
- "Three years ago I was taken by the KGB and put in a labor camp in Siberia, I am told when to get up, when to go to bed and everything between."
- "I was ship-wrecked on a desert island. I can do anything I want, but there's nothing to do here."
- "I'm a heavy heroin addict. I live my days just to get the next high. Luckily I inherited a large fortune that allows me to support my habit."
- "I worked hard all my life to become rich. At the height, I was worth around $25 million. Then came the crash. The bank took everything - my business, my house, even my car. I now work 9-to-5 in a sweatshop, struggling to make ends meet. When I had money, I used to take exotic vacations and dine in the finest restaurants. Life was fun. Now I'm lucky if I can afford takeout."
- "In the country I live in, cigarettes are banned. I used to smoke two packs a day. Now I can't get them and I'm very depressed."
- "I used to be a top college athlete and was headed for a pro career. Then last year I dove into a pool that was too shallow and broke my neck. I'm now completely paralyzed from my chin down. All I think about all day long is what I used to be able to do."
- "Last year I tried to commit suicide but a policeman caught me just before I jumped. I was institutionalized. There's no possibility here for me to do what I really want to do - kill myself."
And when the people at your Seder turn to you after discussing the Freedom Game and ask, "So, nu, what's the answer?" what are you going to tell them? Here are a few thoughts:
Like all good discussions, we start with a definition. "Free" means not having outside control over your actions, thoughts, behavior. There are different levels of freedom:
- The freedom over physical actions - where you go, what you do.
- The freedom over what you think about.
- The freedom to make moral decisions.
Deciding whether you are going to have chocolate or vanilla ice cream is not on the same level as deciding whether or not to return a lost wallet.
Perhaps the question of who is the free-est depends on which "playing board" the person is on. Moral decisions are a lot more difficult to make than physical ones. With physical decisions where one is enslaved, there is no choice because of physical restraint. With moral decisions, the "outside force" is one's desires and ability to rationalize.
"Pirkei Avot", "Ethics of Our Fathers" (6 chapters of succinct wisdom found in the back of most siddurim, prayer books) asks, "Who is the mighty person?" and answers, "He who conquers his passions." The free-est person is the one who controls his passions and his desires in order to make moral decisions.
THE TWO ANNUAL PESACH JOKES
- A Jewish man was waiting in line to be knighted by the Queen of England. He was supposed to kneel and recite a sentence in Latin. Comes his turn, he kneels, the Queen taps him on the shoulders with the sword ... and in the panic of excitement he forgets the Latin line. Thinking quickly, he recites the only other line he knows in a foreign language which he remembers from the Passover Seder: "Mah nishtana ha-lailah ha-zeh mi-kol ha-leilot." The puzzled Queen turns to her adviser and asks, "Why is this knight different from all other knights?"
- The supply of ch'rain (horseradish used by many for bitter herbs at the Pesach Seder) being off-loaded at the Madrid airport was stopped by a freight handlers strike. It seems that the ch'rain in Spain stayed mainly on the plane...
Torah Portion of the Week
Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach
(the Intermediate Days of Passover)
Exodus 33:12 - 34:26
Moses pleads with the Almighty not to send an angel in His place, but to accompany the Jewish people Himself through the trek in the wilderness, even though they had sinned with the Golden Calf. Moses asks the Almighty to reveal how He interacts with the universe (it is a mystical interchange). Then the Almighty commands Moses to carve two stone tablets and to ascend Mt. Sinai so that He can engrave the replacement tablets for the set that Moses broke at the transgression with the Golden Calf.
The Almighty reveals his Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Exodus 34:5) which we repeat on Yom Kippur and other times of seeking the Almighty's mercy. Moses asks the Almighty to forgive the Jewish people. The Almighty renews the Covenant with the Jewish people commanding us not to enter into a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, not make molten gods, to observe the Festival of Matzos, laws of first born issue, to keep the Shabbat, celebrate Shavuot and Sukkot and ends with assorted laws of offerings.
PIRKEI AVOT 3:18
Beloved are the people of Israel for they are considered "Children of the Almighty." Greater yet, is that He told them that they are called "Children of the Almighty." As it says in the Torah, "You are children to the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 14:1).
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 18:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:57 Hong Kong 6:26 Honolulu 6:32
J'Burg 5:31 London 7:42 Los Angeles 7:08
Melbourne 5:29 Miami 7:26 Moscow 7:22
New York 7:19 Singapore 6:51
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
When I despair, I remember
that all through history,
the way of truth and love
has always won.
There have been murderers
and tyrants, and for a time
they can seem invincible.
But in the end they always fall.
Think of it, always.
-- Mohandas Gandhi
Happy Pesach to Our Family,
In Loving Memory of