Pessach 5772 – Gilayon #745


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Pesach

This

issue of "Shabbat Shalom" has been dedicated by the Watzman family to the memory of their son and brother, Niot z"l, a soldier in the Golani Brigade who died tragically last Pesach.

 

Rabbi gamliel

used to say:

Whoever has not recited these three things on pesach

Has not fulfilled his obligation:

And these are: pesach

(the pascal lamb), matzah

(unleavened bread),

And marror (bitter herbs)

(Mishnah, Pesahim 10:5)

 

Pesach – Pesach [must

be recited to remind us] that He skipped over the homes of Israel who actually

deserved to be trampled under the heels of the measure of justice as were the

Egyptians, since they, as did the Egyptians, worshipped idolatrously; but

despite this, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, skipped over them.

MatzahAnd [we must recite] Matzah because their

dough had insufficient time to leaven (this is the version found in the Rosh); just as they were delivered before the

preordained time, for they were to have remained in Egypt 400 years, but they

were delivered after 210 years, so they were commanded to eat their bread

before it's proper stage.

And MarorBecause "They embittered their lives"

– we praise His blessed name also for the bitterness which our forefathers

suffered, because the severity of the enslavement [was taken into consideration

in calculating completion] of 400 years.

(Tiferet Yisrael/Yahin/ Pesahim 10:5)

 

And this is to intimate that this is the reason our rabbis, or blessed

memory, termed the blessing 'karpass'

[Translator's note: karpas – in modern Hebrew 'celery'

– refers to any of the greens used for dipping in salt water at the seder. The Talmud reads karpas

as an acronym for "He delivered six hundred thousand of the Children of

Israel who worked hard in Egypt"]

and all the commentators are

puzzled by this. But in accordance with [what we wrote] above, [the name karpas] may hint at the following: Just as in the

Exodus from Egypt, at the beginning of the deliverance Israel had great faith, as

is written: And they did not prepare provisions" and because of this

Scripture praises them highly, as is written "I remember the loving-kindness

of your youth […] following me in the desert, etc," as per Rashi's explanation there. Therefore we continue with this

great faith, for we believe that even this small bit of greens is subject to

God's wonderful providence. And therefore it is [also] a term for fine linen

garments, as is written "Hur, karpas u'techelet" ("White

cotton and blue wool, fine linen and purple wool"), meaning to say that I

belief that everything is in Your hands, and that this tiny bit of greens is as

wonderful a creation as expensive garments called karpas.

(Rabbi Nahman of Breslav: Likutei Halachot, Orah Hayyim – Laws of Washing Hands before the Meal and the

Breaking of the Bread, Halacha 6)

 

 

A joyous festival to our readers and all of israel!

May we be priviledged

to fulfill, in our season of freedom, that which is written:

And you shall remember that you were a slave

in the land of egypt,

Therefore do i

command you to do this thing:

"you shall not

oppress the hired worker, the indigent and the pauper from

Among your brothers,

or the stranger in your land in your gates"

 

 

 

Maror

– the agony and the hope

Haim

Watzman

A month ago, following the custom instituted

by Mordecai and Esther after the Jews' victory over their oppressors, we

celebrated our deliverance from the hands of Haman. Despite Purim's

characteristic chaos, the sequence of events marked by that holiday seems so logical as to be unremarkable – catastrophe, victory, and

redemption in one year, commemoration and celebration for future generations.

At the Seder the opposite occurs. On this

night, strangely enough, we participate in a ritual instituted prior to

redemption. The first Seder night occurred in Egypt while our ancestors were

still slaves. The ritual that was intended to remind us of our exodus from

servitude to freedom via God's powerful hand was observed in the middle of the

night, before the participants knew whether the promise of the Lord, as heard

from Moshe our teacher, would indeed be fulfilled. Logic would dictate that the

first Seder night should be celebrated – as was the first Purim celebration – immediately

after the exodus from Egypt,

or perhaps a year later, in order to affix this formative event in national

memory and custom.

Rabbi Kolonymus Kalmish Shapira, known as the "Aish Kodesh," after the name

of his most famous work, asked this question in the Warsaw ghetto in 1940, in his sermon for Parashat Behar. Why, he wondered, were

the Children of Israel commanded to eat maror

bitter herbs – on the night of the first Pesach? Explicitly, the purpose

of eating maror is to remind us of our

suffering under Pharaoh. "Prior to their exodus from Egypt, they had no need to remind themselves, as

they were still in Egypt,"

he pointed out.

The same question may be asked with reference

to matzah. As we learn from the Haggadah, matzah has

double symbolism. It is the bread of poverty, the bread of slaves, and

also the bread of deliverance, the bread baked in the haste of

the Exodus. When the firstborn of Egypt were smitten that night, the

Children of Israel had not yet left their slave quarters. The first ceremony of

eating matzah thus could not have served to

remind them of this event. And they already had in plenty the bread of poverty.

They had been eating it for centuries and there was nothing special in eating

it again on this night.

The "Aish Kodesh," only too familiar with suffering and famine

in the ghetto, found meaning in this apparent absurdity: "But the plain

meaning is that they were commanded to ingest the bitterness of the period, so

that they always remember – even after deliverance – the bitterness and the

yoke of Heaven which they had then accepted upon themselves."

Rabbi Kolonymus

offered a profound insight about the act of remembering. He stressed that in

order to inscribe the memory of the bitter enslavement in the souls of the

Children of Israel for generations, it was necessary that that the generation

leaving Egypt

eat bitter herbs still in the land of their oppression, while yet slaves. He

offered two reasons:

The first is that the act of eating literally

embodied the cruelty of their slavery – it brought into their bodies a

suffering that had been imposed from the outside. Now part of their physical

beings, they bore their former suffering with them when they left Egypt. Eating

the maror at each subsequent Seder thus did

not merely evoke a vague memory of long-ago suffering; it became a rehearsal of

the act which transformed the bitterness of slavery into an intimate part of

the Israelites' very being.

In other words, the role of remembering on

Pesach is different from that of remembering on Purim. On both holidays we

are commanded to remember and rejoice in our redemption. But on Pesach we are

also commanded to remember the suffering which preceded the deliverance.

If on Purim we expunge the very name of Haman, on Seder night we incorporate

the affliction into our bodies and souls. The Seder rite does not just remind

us that God delivered us from Egypt.

It also reminds us that He kept us enslaved for hundreds of hopeless years.

Now for the second reason

proposed by the "Aish Kodesh." The act of eating bitter herbs in Egypt not only

engraved agony upon the souls of slaves on the threshold of deliverance, it

also bound this suffering inseparably to the subsequent salvation of future generations.

It affixed to the Jewish soul a tight tie between suffering and deliverance, so

that the former, difficult as it may be, is not just suffering per se

but also a sign of impending deliverance. Maror,

then, becomes a bitter medicine which prevents total despair.

This year, my family's festival of

deliverance will be mixed with double bitterness, as we eat maror

and also recall last year's Seder, which was the last night we spent together

with our son and brother, Niot. On the night

following the holiday, Niot and three of his friends

drove down to Eilat for two days of diving. Niot was mortally injured in an accident and died on

Shabbat Hol Hamoed.

In retrospect, my evocation of the Aish Kadosh's teaching last Seder

night has taken on cruel irony. In reading his words on the maror

and matzah, I unknowingly prepared my family

for a new bitterness that will, from this year and for all the years to come, be

an inseparable part of how we experience the festival of freedom – always my

favorite holiday. As I write these lines, still in the midst of our family's

first year of mourning, it is still difficult to see deliverance on the horizon.

But the "Aish Kodesh,"

who lost his wife and daughter in the inferno before he too was murdered, planted

the seed of a promise of redemption even in the darkest time.

Haim Watzman

is a member of Kehillat Yedidya

in Yerushalayim

           

 

Hametz is checked for by lamp-light on the night of the

fourteenth. It is unnecessary to check any place into which hametz

is not brought.

(Mishnah

Pesahim 1:1)

 

Hametz is checked for by

lamp-light on the night of the fourteenth – the search is not performed by

sunlight or moonlight, but by lamp light [because search by lamp is better]. Even though there is no proof-text

for this, there is a hint of it: And at that time I shall search for Jerusalem with lamps (Zefaniah 1), and it says: God's lamp is man's soul (Proverbs 20).

(Tosefta Pesahim 1:1)

 

Our Rabbis taught: Hametz is checked for by lamp-light on the night of the

fourteenth, in accordance with [the verse] searching his innermost parts

(Proverbs 20).

Another view: God's lamp is man's soul – R. Aha

said: The soul reports every single thing that a person does in secret, in the

dark, and in the open. It writes up notebooks for the Holy One blessed be He

recounting what human beings do.

(Yalkut Shimoni Mishlei 20)

 

The Holy One blessed be He Suffers Together, So-to-speak,

with Those Who Suffer

And you find that all the while that Israel was enslaved, the Divine Presence [was

enslaved] with them, so-to-speak, for it is said: And they saw the God of Israel and

beneath his feet was the likeness of a sapphire pavement. And when they

were redeemed what does it say? Like the very sky for purity and it is

said in all their troubles He was troubled. This only tells me about the

community's troubles, where do I learn this regarding the troubles of the

individual? It is learned from the verse: He shall call me Me and I will answer him, I am

with him in his troubles.

(Mekhilta Bo Messekhet De Pas'ha 14)

 

If this had not appeared in Scripture, we would not

be allowed to say it. It is as if Israel told the Holy One blessed be

He: "You redeemed Yourself."

(Mekhiltah Bo, 99a)

 

The Joy of Deliverance does not Cancel Sorrow over

the Loss of Human Life

You

find joy mentioned three times in connection with the holiday [of Sukkot]: and you shall rejoice in your holiday (Devarim 16:14), and you shall have nothing but joy (Devarim 16:15), and you shall rejoice before the Lord your

God for seven days (Vayikra 23:40). However, in

connection to Pesach, we do not find even a single mention of rejoicing. Why?

You find that judgment is passed [by God] on the grain crop on Pesach, and no

one knows if there will be [grain] this year or not [therefore, people's

anxiety interferes with their joy]. Another opinion [has it]

that [rejoicing is not mentioned] because Egyptians died during it [during the

deliverance from Egypt].

Similarly, you find that we read the Hallel all seven

days of the [Sukkot] festival, but on Pesach we only

read Hallel on the first day and its night. Why?

Because, Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be

glad when he stumbles (Mishlei 24:17).

(Yalkut Shimoni 23: 654)

 

Abarbanel explains that our custom

during the Seder of spilling wine when we recall the plagues of Egypt is

intended to strengthen in our minds the ethical importance of regretting, even

as we celebrate our deliverance, the price paid by other human beings, even

though they were rightfully punished for their evil deeds, in accordance with

the verse, Do not rejoice when your enemy falls.

Some time after that, when Moses had grown up,

he went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their toil. He saw an Egyptian

beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen. He turned this way and that and, seeing

no one about, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. (Shemot 2:11-12).

The four actions taken by Moses tell of his

soul's greatness: it was full of exalted, divine courage. He was incapable of [passively]

witnessing injustice and violence, always rescuing whomever he could: 1) While

living in the royal house, he set out to observe the condition of his Israelite

brothers, 2) He struck the Egyptian who had hit one of his Hebrew brothers 3) He

reprimanded the wicked Hebrew who had hit his neighbor 4) He delivered the

Priest of Midian's seven daughters from the shepherds.

Any

person of character and pure heart will learn from his example to stand in the

breech and save his brothers from their murderous tormentors.

This is

particularly true in those places where our brothers are oppressed and

tormented by the gentiles. However, one should not disregard abuse perpetrated

by one of our own brothers from the House of Israel. Even if the victim is a

gentile, one must stand by him because all injustice is abhorrent to God. From

this we must also learn that even when one lives comfortably, in peace and

security in his own tent, surrounded by wealth and honor, the regime attentive

to his words, such a person must not say to himself, "I am at peace in my

own tent, why should I trouble myself about others, be they my brothers or from

the world at large."

(Rabbi Moshe Kalfon, Darkhei Moshe, Gerba,

Tunis circa 19th cent., as quoted in HaLayla

HaZeh an Israeli Haggadah

edited by Mishael and Noam Tzion)

 

In

Nissan They Were Delivered and in Nissan They Are Destined to Be Delivered"

– On the Geula from Egypt and the Future Geula

The

goal of the exodus from Egypt

was not realized. The mission of "the time of our freedom" took the

form of a synthetic freedom, something which may be a pre-condition for freedom,

but it is not true freedom. The nation which left Egypt

did not accept upon itself the Kingdom

of God, and therefore we

do not recite "the Complete Hallel" on the

festival on which the attempt to realize our freedom failed.

The

exodus from Egypt

was – and was not! – geula.

It is geula in the sense of "ataruta shamaymit"

– "heavenly awaking" – but is was not geula in the sense of "earthly awakening".

The great difference between geula as a

means and geula as an end can be

seen in the four terms of geula which announce

the great purpose for which the people will be delivered: "And I will

take them out" "And I will save",

"And

I will take them" "I will redeem them… And you will know that I am the

Lord your God." The first four are in the hands of heaven – the last

is in the hands of Man.

The exodus becomes geula only if the one being

saved participates "for the sake of heaven"; liberation is not geula as long as the liberated one's role is only

limited to self-benefit.

The

four terms of geula without "And you

will know that I am the Lord your God" represent false geula, and false geula

is worse for Israel

than loss of belief in geula.

The

fall of Yerushalayim and the destruction of the Temple by Titus, and even

the decrees of Hadrian against Torah and mitzvoth, did not uproot Judaism – not

even from the hearts of those who had abandoned hope for geula

and anticipated that the seed of Avraham will disappear

(Bavli,

Bava Batra 60b). The Shabbtai

Zevi debacle weakened the Judaism of its believers, and

even opened the door to its collapse among the entire Jewish people.

Therefore, Man,

– who has no communication with that which is beyond the curtain – must be

extremely careful about proclaiming that military victory and national-political

success are indicative of atchalta d'geulathe beginning of the geula

("the beginning of the flowering of our geula").

(Leibowitz, Discussion

on the Festivals of Israel

and It's Appointed Times)

 

The Four Sons: Are Changes

and Questions the Result of External Stimuli or of Inner Understanding

Changes should be made on this night so that

the children see and ask and say: "Why is this night different from

all other nights, until he answers them, telling them: This happened, and it

occurred thus."

 (Rambam,

Mishneh Torah, Laws of Hametz

and Matzah 7:3)

 

In the Torah, the wise man's question relates

to all of the commandments, the wicked man's question relates

specifically to Pesach, the simple person's question regards the

breaking of the firstborn donkey's neck, and the question of he who 'knows

not how to ask' is about matzah. Each

question was asked in its fitting context. For the one 'who knows not how to

ask' cannot ask, because he knows nothing; perforce our obligation is to produce

awareness and to make him deserving [of reward] through telling him the story

of the exodus from Egypt, and therefore the Torah places his question in the

context of matzah, the purpose of which

is to publicize the exodus from Egypt, as per their [our Sages] explication of

the passage "And you shall tell him 'for this' I said only when matzah and maror are

placed before you". And the simple son, who asks of his own volition, asks

only when he detects something unusual. Therefore the Torah places his

question in the context of the firstborn donkey, where he sees something

inconsistent with plain logic and common sense – the breaking of the donkey's

neck for no obvious reason is unusual – and he asks "what is this

about?" Therefore we effect a change on Pesach night so that the child, who

is simple, will ask. And that which is written "And should your son ask

you etc." is not specifically about the breaking of the firstborn donkey's

neck alone; the Torah wants to tell us that when your son detects change

caused by the Pesach ritual – and matzah and maror, like the breaking of the donkey's neck, is a change –

then he will ask "What is this, etc." "and

you will answer him etc." But the wise son needs no change to

stimulate questions. Therefore the Torah has him ask with regard to all the

commandments, because the wise son asks about every commandment. He

wants to understand why the Lord gave this commandment. Had the Torah placed

his question with regard to matzah and maror, his question would have been about this particular

commandment which he sees as something different – and this is not

characteristic of a wise person's question, he does not question change.

(Divrei Negidim

on the Pesach Haggadah of the MaHaRaL

of Prague, p. 67)

 

"Begins

with Denigration and Finishes with Praise"

In [the chapter] Arvei

Pesahim [it is written in reference to] the Haggadah that it "begins with denigration and finishes

with praise." Why does it begin with denigration? Because

praise can only be truly recognized when contrasted to its opposite.

(The MaHaRaL

mi'Prague's Netzah

Yisrael page 9a)

 

This is the only possible order of creation: first

darkness, then light, because the advantage of light is only recognizable from [contrast

to] the darkness, and darkness becomes its throne. Therefore,

it begins with denigration, since denigration is part of praise and is the

preparation for it.

(R. Zadok

Ha'Kohen, Dover

Tzedek mitzvah assei 1)

 

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