Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
April 2nd 2015 -Volume 5, Issue 22 -14th NissanAdar 5775
“Get off the computer now…it’s Erev Pesach, nobody should have time to read your weekly E-Mails any way, there’s too much to do.” I disagree with my family. I think many of you are just sitting at home this past week as you do most weeks and just stare at your computer screens and wait until “ding- you have mail” pops up and you can rest comfortably knowing that you have your weekly inspiration. But in order to show respect and solidarity with the traditional Egyptian style slave labor cleaning and preparing that goes on in the Schwartz home before Pesach I bring you the abridged version this week. Shalom Bayis, boys and girls Shalom Bayis…
OK two quick ideas in a nutshell. The first came to mind as my oldest daughter Shani experienced her first “March of the Living -style-(it was through her seminary)” journey to Europe this past week I had mixed feelings about it. I’m not a fan of Eastern Europe, not a fan of Concentrations camps or anti-semitism either and don’t necessarily appreciate the value of giving them one tourism dollar on the blood of my ancestors. I know that knowing our history is important and never again and having an appreciation of the gift of the State of Israel area all critical parts that become internalized on these trips but still I don’t know how sold I am on actually having to travel there and see it. On the other hand many of our Jewish holidays seem to be about remembering our past, our roots and our history. In fact on Pesach we are mandated to even act out the story of Egypt. We eat Matzos, bitter herbs, and throw frogs and lice on the table. Or at least some of us do. So maybe there is a point to re-experiencing the holocaust experience. In fact I read a few stories of quite a few survivors that would actually put on their black and white prison garb and would start their seder with the words “We were slaves to Hitler in Poland.” Talk about passing on the message to the next generation.
Yet I saw an idea from the Baal Shem Tov this past Purim that I think applies equally to Pesach. There is a law that says that if one is “Koreh Es HaMegilla LiMafraya LoYatza”-which literally means one who reads the Megilla retroactively he does not fulfill his obligation. The Halacha/law being that if one reads the megilla out of order of the chapters and verses one does not fulfill their obligation. The Be”sht though interprets the words homiletically though. He who reads the megilla and understands the story of the Purim as being one only retroactively, as a story that happened in the past or a Jewish history lesson, has missed the point of the reading and does not really fulfill their obligation. The miracle of Purim is an eternal miracle. It is how Hashem appears to each one of us in moments of darkness and manipulates the world for us to persevere to thrive to overcome and achieve our destinies. Purim isn’t a 2500 years ago story it’s a 2500 year continuing story of us.
If this is true for Purim, it is even truer for Pesach. There is a debate in the Gemara between Rav and Shmuel how does one fulfill the obligation to recite the Hagada and story we are Biblically obligated to recite this evening. Shmuel suggests that we must begin our story with Avadim Hayinu- We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. Rav on the other hand suggests that we begin with story of our ancestors being idolators. We talk about our “father” Terach and mention Esau, we go back to Jacob and Lavan as well. For most kids (and not a few adults) it feels like we’re going over the entire Torah from the book of Bereishis. Even more interesting though is that the conclusion of of Rav’s recitation ends with us singin Dayeinu where we mention the post Egypt stories that continue with the manna, the giving of the Torah and ultimately the building of the Temple- “to atone for our sins”. C’mon it’s late. Why do we feel the need to pack the entire Jewish story into one seder. Leave the Torah giving stuff for Shavuot, the Temple stuff maybe for Sukkot, atoning for Yom Kippur. Why are we packing it all in?
The answer is that Rav is coming to answer the question that is not being asked by the Seder. Maybe it’s the question of the son “who does not know how to ask”. Who perhaps feels too comfortable where he is to ask. Why were we sent down to Egypt in the first place for? Hashem took us out, Hooray! But he also sent us there. What is it all about. The answer is that we should not read the Hagadda as only a history story. You can let your kids watch the movie for that. Rav believes that story of Pesach is still an ongoing story. It started with us as idolaters and it is still going on until the Temple will be built. We went down to Egypt because we had a destiny to fulfill. We were meant to redeem Egypt from Egypt. To build a home for God starting from the lowest of the low, the 49th level of impurity and raise the world up to the Highest of the high. We were meant to learn that each of us have the power and the ability to slaughter the false gods that the world worships and bring the glory of the one God, who created and maintains the world and is awaiting for His glory to shine in the Temple we will build for him. He who reads the story of Pesach “retroactively” hasn’t fulfilled his obligation. We were brought down for a purpose and we are still rising up and in the process of redemption until we achieve the final promise of “Ve’Havaysi” that he will bring us all to the land from where we will shine out His light to the world.
The Seder night is the night to pass that message on to our children. But even more so it is a message to pass on to ourselves. The Baal Shem Tov also taught that all four sons are not just our children but they are all us. We are the wise son, we are the wicked son, we are the simple son and perhaps most tragically we are the son who has even forgotten to how to ask. To ask for the final redemption. To ask that we may fulfill the purpose and mission of our Exile and Exodus from Egypt. To ask that we may very soon be the vessels that bring the Shechina once again back to its home. So this may Pesach let us all remember to ask. Don’t just tell stories. Tell His story.
Have a Chag Kasher V’Samayach- A Happy Kosher Pesach,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
RABBI SCHWARTZ'S CORNY PASSOVER JOKE OF THE WEEK- WARNING NOT KOSHER FOR THOSE THAT DO NOT EAT KITNIYOT
What do you call someone who spent hours preparing the seder plat- egg-zosted
Why do we eat horseradish with the four cups of wine? When it chrains it pours
Why did the Egyptians have the Jews make all the pyramids and find their own straw? They were anit-cementic
How does NASA prepare its seder in space? They Plan—it
What did Moshe say to Pharoah when he refused to let the Jews out after the first plague? That was dumb
How do you drive your mother crazy Erev Pesach? It’s a piece of cake