Our view of the Galile

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The First Seder- Pesach 2016/5776

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"

April 21st 2016 -Volume 6, Issue 29 13th Nisan 5776

The First Seder
OK, there’s no time to seduce you into reading this E-Mail with a cute line, joke, story anecdote or provocative statement. It’s Erev Pesach and there’s still cleaning that needs to done. Or as my wife says “We’re not even close to being ready yet”. Get off that computer. You haven’t been home all week. The kids have done enough already. The little ones are jumping off the roof. I imagine that it’s because they probably haven’t eaten in a week, as the fridge is pretty bare. I think my bunnies are the only ones getting any food. I am married long enough though not to say anything though. I do want to eat this Pesach. Shani’s married and not here to help. Yonah’s making money cleaning other people’s houses in Jerusalem. And although my wife wanted to try to hire him to clean our place, it seems that we can’t compete with those fancy Rechavia Americans. And here I thought we might have earned a little protekzia with my son. How can he give up helping his mother around the house just to make a few shekels? What type of education is he getting? Who would leave this poor hapless woman all alone with two little mischievous kids and people knocking on the door all day to buy clothing and a whole house to clean for Pesach by herself? How could my son do that? I wonder who his role model must be…Oh…I guess I’ll be quiet now.
Anyways there’s no time here. I’m getting nasty looks. Let’s talk Seder. The night that we have to get it all on. The night that we have to pass on eternal messages to our family. We will bond. We will create memories, traditions, and truly tap into the essence of our souls. It’s also the night that we have absolutely no time to properly prepare for. We’re so busy cleaning, cooking, and in my case touring -thank God. Yet we know we should prepare. It has to be meaningful. We can’t be falling over our faces. We want to have what to share, what to inspire with. This is particularly true for those of us that live in Israel, where you don’t get a chance to make-up on a second Seder what you missed the first night. Ok maybe it’s because we don’t need the extra time to explain to our children, how and why America is not the golden ‘Promised Land’ and that they are still in Exile despite the plethora of Kosher Pizza shops, Yeshivas, synagogues and Jewish organizations and presidential candidates that they have there. Yeahhh…those of us over here figured that out already. But still there’s so much to pack in and it’s only one night. So what to do?
Now many of you were fortunate enough to purchase this great brand new book that came out this Pesach aptly titled “The Most Enjoyable Book You’ll Ever Read About Pesach” by some Tour Guide/author in Karmiel. It’s the other 1824 of you that I’m concerned about. Yes I am keeping count J.  (You can still order by the way…). So what to do. Well in college and high school for that matter, you know that period in life when ‘who had time to study?’ We were too busy doing far more important things like…ummm… sleep? It was also that period when we honed our fine skills of cramming at the last minute. Cliff notes, were our text books. Sound bites were what we developed our essays from. We saw the movie or the TV version and we were good to go. It’s how we passed. So with that in mind it seems that the author of the Hagadda also understood our predicament and he gave us the long and short of it in the first few paragraphs. A short little ‘movie’ or picture of the Seder that was done from which all Seders can be learned from. A Seder that the Hagadda tells us took place in the city of Bnai Brak, Israel at the home of none other than the great Rabbi Akiva in which all the great Rabbis of his time joined him for. Let’s take a look at that and then we’ll be ready to go. The Hagadda goes as follows.
And even if all of us were wise, all men of understanding, all elderly, all of us knowing the Torah, there is still a mitzvah upon us to tell about the Exodus from Egypt. And whoever talks about it at length is praiseworthy.
It once happened that Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaryah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon were reclining in Bnei Brak. They were discussing the Exodus from Egypt all that night until their students came and said to them: "Our teachers, the time has arrived to read the morning Shema."
An interesting story certainly. But as far as information goes, there doesn’t seem to be much to go on or learn from here. Great Rabbis get together and they spend all night talking OK, I got that, but what did they say. What was it all about? What are we supposed to learn from this and how can it make our Seder more meaningful? Is there anything more that we can derive from here besides a pressure to find things to talk about all night and to try to stay up as long as possible?
So now is the time to become a little Talmudic with me. Every word of the Hagadda is precise. There is a tremendous amount of information in this little snippet. We just have to scratch it a little and poof it will come out. The first thing we should examine is that why was it necessary to tell us that the Seder took place in Bnai Brak. We generally don’t have information as to where any particular speech or teaching takes place. In addition it’s interesting to note that the sage that lived in Bnai Brak was Rabbi Akiva. The Head of the Sanhedrin who attended was Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariya who lived in Lod. And yet he came to Rabbi Akiva. As well interestingly enough was that all of these Rabbis came. Rabbi Tarfon is perhaps one of the most important protagonists of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Eliezer Ha’Gadol and Rabbi Yehoshua were from Jerusalem and also debated and had vociferous arguments as well that even ended in the excommunication of Rabbi Eliezer. Yet they all joined Rabbi Akiva in Bnai Brak. Why? Didn’t they have a Seder of their own with their own families to attend? Even more than that it seems that their students were there as well. Something was going on. This was a great meeting of the minds. This was the Seder of all Seders. And its how our Seder is meant to start off.
Perhaps the Baal Hagadda wants us to note where the Seder is not taking place. It’s not in Jerusalem. All of these sages lived at the time of the destruction. The Jewish people were broken. There was no more Temple. There was no more Pesach Sacrifice, for the first time since we had entered the land. Perhaps this is even the first Seder after the destruction. The Rabbis all came to Rabbi Akiva. Who better to come to? Who besides Rabbi Akiva who was sitting at the edges of the burning ruins of the Temple along with his colleagues, and who the Talmud tells us was laughing as they were crying, to come to. Who else could see in the foxes running around in our once sacred places and see the fulfilment of the prophecy of the destruction was going to be the harbinger of that second prophecy that the children will return and rebuild once again. That the streets of Jerusalem will be filled with grandparents sitting in parks and shmozing, boys and girls playing and the sounds of brides and grooms getting married will once again fill the cities of Judah and the suburbs of Yerushalayim. So they came to Rabbi Akiva. All of them. They came for hope. They came for inspiration. They came to find the redemption that can be seen in the darkest moment of our Exile. They came to Bnai Brak and they were up all night.
In the morning their students came in and told them that it was time to recite the morning Shema. According to older texts of the Hagadda the next piece and statement of the Hagadda is the response that Rabbi Eliezer Ben Azaria had to them. It was said right there that morning after the first Seder. It was the epiphany and the conclusion of that great seder when they were all reclining and celebrating together.
Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaryah said: "I am like a man of 70 years, and yet I was never able to merit to prove that one is obligated to mention the Exodus at night, until Ben Zoma explained it thusly: It says in the Torah, ‘In order that you shall remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt, all the days of your life.' ‘The days of your life' refers to the days; ‘All the days of your life' refers to the nights." And the Sages say: "'The days of your life' refers to this world; ‘All the days of your life' indicates the time of the Messiah."
To clarify what this is referring to, there is a biblical obligation to recite the Shema twice a day morning and evening. Our sages added in the third paragraph of Shema that includes the mention of the Exodus from Mitzrayim. It seems that third paragraph to remember the Exodus was only recited during the daytime Shema. The rule followed the sages which were the majority that the verse that obligates us to remember the Exodus is in Messianic times. The truth is as long as the Temple was standing it wasn’t that important. We had it all. We had come to our fulfilment. The Shechina was home. The concept of finding Hashem and remembering Hashem in our darkest moment and the night of the Exile wasn’t there. Perhaps they didn’t even know how to relate to that world. Yet that morning, after the Seder of Rabbi Akiva in Bnai Brak, Rabbi Eliezer walks out with a whole new weltanschauung. We can see Hashem and the redemption even in the dark. Even in the night. We must remember it even more so then. We can turn the night into light. That’s why we are being put here.
The Baal Haggada tells us this story of the first Seder to teach us that ‘Kol ha’marbeh l’sapeir bi’yitziyat Mitzrayim harey Zeh mishubach- All who elaborate to speak about the Exodus from Egypt, He is praise worthy. The Ba’al Shem Tov explains this phrase in his characteristic homiletic beautiful fashion notes that the word ‘l’sapeir’ is from the word sapphire a shining bright gem. The same one that was used to describe the vision the Jewish people had by the revelation at Sinai of the heavenly throne. He who can increase the brightness of the tremendous light of that redemption of Sinai. Then Zeh is mishubach. This is praiseworthy. Which ‘Zeh’? Which ‘This’? The zeh E-li v’anveihu- this is my God and I will glorify him that we recited by the splitting of the Sea. The ‘this’ that our sages tell us that all the righteous will stand in a circle on that final day and will point to Hashem and declare Him as our God, our Redeemer, Our Father.
That first Seder took place in Bnai Brak. The word barak means lightning. The children of lightning. That’s what we all are on Seder night. It is that flash of lightning in the darkness of Exile. It is that bolt that tells us that the darkness can change. The redemption is around the corner. It might seem like the worst of times. It is that flash of lightning of the Seder that gave our eternal nation the strength through all the horrors and persecutions throughout the millennia. We celebrated our Seder all night during pogroms, in basements during the inquisition, in the lagers of the Nazi death camps and perhaps just almost as  tragically in the most distant from Judaism and our Father, assimilated homes of the Diaspora. Pesach time is that light. That shock to our system that tells us that the night is not permanently dark. We can reveal the light there. We can rebuild. We can come home. No one will be left behind. Not the simple son, not the wickd one or the one who doesn’t even know how to ask anymore. They are all by the Seder. It’s our night. We can all recite Shema together.
My times up. I’m done. We’ve got a Seder to make. I’ve got a lesson to give over. But hey if and god willing when Mashiach comes this Pesach Seder if you need a tour when you get here, look me up. I should be off the hook after the holiday.
Chag Kasher V’Samayach- Have a Happy and Festive Pesach

 Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz



https://youtu.be/WSlvWPPRPuI   – God split the Ocean Six13 Jam

https://youtu.be/Bh0vPbFDyeI     –How the pyramids were built by the Jews Funny!

https://youtu.be/nOW4spRm7d4 Jews leaving Egypt Cute

https://youtu.be/MLDHbAvWgmI - Cool Technion Passover Story

Ven me zol Got danken far guts, volt nit zein kain tseit tsu baklogen zikh oif shlechts.”- “If we thanked God for the good things, there wouldn’t be time to weep over the bad.”

answer below at end of Email
Q. “Give me Yavneh and its sages” was said by:
A.     Hillel the Elder
  1. Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh
  2. Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai
  3. Josephus

A Seder plate walks into a bar
Bartender says: What can I get you?
Sederplate says: Nothing right now, I got a lot on my plate

A matzah ball walks into a bar
Bartender says: Is this Round on you?

Matzah walks into a bar
Bartender says: Looks like you had a Crumby day?

Moses walks into a bar
Bartender says: Drinks for just you or your staff?

The Jewish Nation walks into a bar.
Bartender says: You thought splitting the sea was hard, try splitting this check

Chad Gad Ya walks into a bar
Bartender says: After that last bar fight with the dog and cat and fire, it's gonna cost alot more than 2 zuzim to get a drink here

Elijah walks into a bar
Bartender says: What can I get for you Elijah?
Elijah says: Wait, you can see me??

A Kiddush Cup walks into a bar
Bartender says: We don't serve whiners here

Matzah walks into a bar
Bartender says: Havent seen you in a while, where you been?
Matzah says: I've had some bad breaks
Charoses and Marror walk into a bar

Wise son and wicked son walk into a bar
Bartender says: What can I get you boys?
Wise son asks for all the details of how the drinks are made
Wicked son laughs: It's on his tab, not mine. Had we been in Egypt I wouldnt have paid either.

Pharoah walks into a bar
Bartender says: So it's a Bloody Mary or well, a Bloody Mary right?

Pharoah walks into a bar, doesnt speak
Bartender: Speak up? What do you have a frog in your throat?
Pharoah: frogs here, frogs there

The Son 'who doesnt know how to ask' walks into a bar
Bartender: Arent you going to order? Helllo?

A Seder walks into a bar
Bartender: Let me guess this is going to be different than all other nights?
Afikoment walks into a bar
Bartender: I'll get you a drink, but dont you get lost because I will find you.

A seder kittel walks into a bar
Bartender says: What did someone die?

A haggadah walks into a bar
Bartender says: The way this guy rambles on, I'm gonna need my own 4 cups

Answer is C – I liked this question. There’s not too many of them that demand a Talmudic background. Feel bad for those secular Israelis that may not know this one as that all the Rabbis are pretty much the same for. But this famous request was made by Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai who the Talmud tells us snuck out of the old city of Jerusalem during the siege of Vespasian in the year 70 CE to meet with him. The rebels didn’t want him to negotiate peace, but he saw that it was a lost cause. The Talmud tells us that he arrived to Vespasian and bowed down and called him the Caesar. The general told him that was treasonous as the Caesar was still in Rome until a few minutes later when a messenger told him that the Caesar was killed and Vespasian was elected by the Senate as the next Emperor of Rome. Rabbi Yochanan told him that he knew that it must be so as Jerusalem will only fall in the hands of the head of State and not a general. In exchange for his “good news” Vespasian granted him his request that the city of Yavne where the Sanhedrin had escaped to be spared as at least the Torah will be able to be continued and the tradition and transmission passed on. That was 2000 years ago. Rome is long gone but the Torah and its traditions and our Seder are still here.  Tell that to your kids Seder night..

No comments:

Post a Comment