GOOD MORNING! The Seders are Monday night, March 29th and Tuesday night, March 30th.
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 experience either 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 God ... 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.
To understand more about Passover and to have fascinating ideas to share at the Seder, go to: Aish.com/Passover. Check out: "All in the Seder"; "It Ain't Over 'til it's Passover"; "The ABC's of Passover"; and "The Passover Primer - An inspiring and thought-provoking compendium of articles."
For more on "Passover" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
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, one of the essential commentaries on Torah, explains 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 offering, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer "blood" to gain atonement), the first grain offering, peace offering, unintentional sin offering (private and communal), guilt (for an intentional sin) offerings - varied upon one's ability to pay, and an offering for personal use of something designated or belonging to the Tabernacle or the Temple.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And if he does not have the financial means for two turtledoves or for two young pigeons, then he shall bring his offering for his transgression, the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering" (Leviticus 5:11).
What lesson for life is the Torah teaching us?
The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan (1839 -1933), comments that we see from here how the Torah established different requirements for a wealthy person and a poor person. A wealthier person's offering must be worth more money for him to fulfill his obligation. If a wealthy person will bring the offering of a poor person, his offering is not valid and he is still obligated to bring a larger offering. The same is true of our obligation to give charity. The more money you have the greater is your obligation to give charity. Every person is obliged to give a tenth of his income to charity. One who earns a hundred times more than someone else must give a hundred times more charity.
The same concept also applies to other talents. The greater your intellect, for instance, the greater your obligation to share your wisdom with others.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 19
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 5:55 - Hong Kong 6:15 - Honolulu 6:23
J'Burg 6:02 - London 5:53 - Los Angeles 6:45
Melbourne 7:17 - Mexico City 6:28 - Miami 7:13
New York 6:48 - Singapore 6:58 - Toronto 7:10
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Being a parent is not always about
passing on what you know,
it is about passing on who you are.
With Special Thanks to
Frank and Elaine Gelb
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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