This Week's Edition
of Parsha Insights
is dedicated in Honor of Birthdays of
Grete Lederer (93rd)
Paul Stein (87th)
By Avraham (Tommy) Hupert
And from all the students at Nishmas Chayim
Click here for Shevi'i Shel Peasach
A Letter to his followers before Pesach 5699 (1939) from
Rebbe Kalonymus Kalman (h.y.d.) of Piasceztna.
My dear ones, I am calling to you and speaking to your souls.
The Holy days of Pesach are approaching. The holiness
of these days infuse us thoroughly; inside and out. Their light
fills us and encompasses us.
Nevertheless is stated, "Ohr zarua laTzaddik, U' l'Yishrei
lev simcha. / Light is sown for the righteous and there is joy
for the upright of heart." (Psalms 97:11). Light is like
a seedling; at the beginning it requires our nurturing and our
efforts to foster its growth. Like a field needs plowing and hoeing
and weeding watering, so do we need to prepare ourselves before
the festival. Without the preparation, there can be no joy, nogrowth
and no light. With all the preparations needed for the festival,
we must be careful not do divert our attention from ourselves,
not to forget to draw down the Holiness of the season.
The main aspect of the festival is to be joyful; to praise and
glorify Hashem for all the miracles and all the goodness.
This is actually the purpose of the entire creation and the essence
of the relationship between the earthly creation and the heavenly
When the time comes for the Pesach evening Ma'ariv
prayer, you should rejoice in your tremendous fortune, in the
great privilege you have to be engaged in the Avodah of
Pesach. You should say to yourself, "My joy is without
bounds that I have been granted the opportunity to achieve my
purpose in the world and to be elevated to the upper spheres.
True I have my problems, both material and spiritual, but for
now I discard them, the entire world is longer important to me.
I even nullify my own self in order to stand in the company of
angels, awaiting the presence of Hashem. My only thought
is to praise and glorify his great name and to draw down the Holy
splendor of Hashem's light into the world, into my own
soul and into the souls of my family."
Your joy should so exalted that you feel that you can barely hold
yourself back from breaking into an ecstatic dance; leaping from
the earth to the heavens.
Afterwards when you sit at the seder table, you imagine
yourself sitting down to a festive meal in Gan Eden (paradise)
itself, participating in the celebration of the final redemption.
All of the aspects of the seder, eating the matzo and maror,
drinking the four cups of wine, and reciting the Haggadah,
Hallel and other songs of praise, comprise a holy service
to Hashem. The angels above are crowded around to hear our praises
of Hashem. Even Hashem himself rejoices in delight
as he receives our praise and song as is known from the esoteric
literature. A Jew is able to feel Hashem's delight with
each word that he utters from the Haggadah. He is imbued
with such holiness that he is replete with sorrow when he finishes
each word; if only he could go back and recite the Hallel
another 1000 times, he would does so. His whole being is at one
with his Creator as he recites words of incredible sweetness;
the Haggadah lying open in front of him. One must endeavor
to provide sanctuary for the holiness of this night, so that it
will abide by him for the whole year.
. . .Continue to foster your love for your fellow Jew for that
is the hinge on which all divine service revolves. . . I bless
you with . . .a Kosher and joyous Pesach.
(from Sefer Derech HaMelech, letters, p. 409)
The Maharal of Prague has astounding insight into the significance
of the three main symbols of Pesach, (Korban) Pesach,
Matzo and Maror.
Rabban Gamliel said, " Anyone who did not say these three
things on the night of Pesach, has not fulfilled his obligation.
They are, (Korban) Pesach, Matzo and Maror."
The Israelites were never an object of any of the plagues. They
always enjoyed relief even while the Egyptians were suffering.
During the plague of blood for example, if a Jew and an Egyptian
drank water from the same cup, for the Egyptian it was blood and
for the Jew it was water. And so on for every plague.
Nevertheless, Hashem had to save the Israelites from the
plague of the death of the first born. Why were they suddenly
subject to this plague?
It must be understood that the plagues grew in severity from the
first to the last. The plague of the death of the first born
was the worst of them all. The spiritual level of the Israel,
was very high, so much so that the when the plagues started they
couldn't be harmed by them. The plague of the death of the first
born was carried out by Hashem Himself, and it was so severe,
that their stature was not able to protect them. To save them,
Hashem took Yisrael to him as a nation. He actually made
them a part of himself. Since Yisrael became an integral part
of Hashem, they were spared. Therefore they earned the
privilege of serving Hashem and he obligated them to bring
the Korban Pesach. Performing this service was a sign
that they had a unique relationship with Hashem.
The Aramaic translation of the word Pesach is "Chayas".
(Exodus 12:11,13,27) It means mercy or caring. It shows the
special relationship that developed between us and Hashem
when he took us as his people and saved us from the plague of
the death of the first born. He had mercy on his people and saved
them from annihilation. In that Hashem is unique and singular,
He took to himself a nation that is unique and singular, unlike
any nation of the world. This quality is still a feature of Yisrael
today. There has never been a successful attempt by Jews to integrate
into any other nation; we always remained distinct, a people apart.
The Maharal points out how the Korban Pesach is,
all its of laws, an indication of this idea of unity between Yisrael
1) It was a mitzvah to roast and eat the Korban Pesach "with
its head on its knees". That is to say complete, and not
cut into smaller pieces (unlike every other type of sacrifice).
Something which indicates unity must be whole. (Exodus 12:9)
2) The Korban Pesach was eaten in one house, and only
by the family group that was registered for that particular animal.
Something which indicates unity must be concentrated in one place.
3) The Korban Pesach was taken from a 1 year old sheep
or goat. The number one indicates unity. (Exodus 12:5)
4) The Korban Pesach was taken from the goats or sheep,
but not from the cattle. A goat or sheep is a more delicate and
tender animal. If it received a wound on one of its limbs, the
animal itself would suffer the pain of the injury. An ox or cow,
due to its bulk, would not be so affected by a similar wound.
It would only feel pain in that particular limb.
Yisrael is likened to a sheep. When one Jew transgresses (as
in the case of Achan, see Joshua 7), the whole nation suffers.
Yisrael, like the sheep have a presence which is less physical.
An entity which more spiritual is naturally more sensitive.
5) The Korban Pesach was roasted over the fire. Cooking
in water causes meant to become soggy and the pieces separate.
Roasting over the fire draws out the juices and the meat becomes
consolidated, another indication of unity. (Exodus 12:8,9)
6) It was prohibited to break any of the bones of the Korban
Pesach. Again, any thing whole and not broken is an indication
of unity. (Exodus 12:46)
By eating the Pesach according to all of it's laws, a Jew
demonstrated his unity with Hashem. This is the unity
which He invested in Israel and thereby commanded them concerning
the Korban Pesach.
Furthermore the Pesach had to be eaten with Matzo
and Maror. Matzo represents the redemption from
Egypt as it is written, ". . .because you went out of Egypt
in great haste." (Deut. 16:3) Furthermore, ".
. .remember the day you went out of Egypt, from the house of slavery,
because he took you out with a strong hand, don't eat any chametz."
These verses show that the reason for the prohibition of chametz is
because Hashem took us out of Egypt quickly and with a
mighty hand. We went out from Egypt so quickly that there was
no time to let the dough rise. It had to be baked into flat Matzos.
Haste, denotes force. Anything which is done in haste or with
great speed is also done with great strength. (I like to think
of sprinters coming out of the blocks. Their great speed is accompanied
by tremendous lateral force.) Taking one nation out from another,
and giving birth to a new national identity requires a great show
of strength. Therefore Matzo is a symbol of the redemption.
Maror on the other hand, the bitter herbs, is a symbol
of the slavery and the difficult back breaking labor.
The Pesach sacrifice was designated to be eaten with Matzo
and Maror. Matzo and Maror are two opposites.
One delivers a message of redemption, the other of servitude.
This is in order to refute the heretics who claim that if God
is One, then He is limited to only one type of conduct.
He can wield his influence only in one way. If God is benevolent,
they maintain, then He may only do good in the world. The presence
of evil proves that God is many and not one.
Nevertheless, we eat the Korban Pesach with Matzo
and Maror. We demonstrate that from Hashem comes
both the servitude and the redemption. The greatness of a God
who is one is shown by the fact that He can embody two opposites.
Slavery and freedom both come from the same source. Moreover
it is clear that the years of servitude were for the good, and
it was an integral period of refinement, a prelude to the freedom
which was to come.
PESACH, MATZO, MAROR
The first Gerrer Rebbe, known as the Chiddushei HaRim,
asked, "How can it be that Maror being a symbol of
the slavery is preceded by the Matzo the symbol of redemption?
The order is wrong, it should be the other way around."
He answered with a parable from HaRav R' Simcha Bunem of
Once there was a King who had an only son. The King loved him
deeply and showered him with affection and presents. The son
however did not know how to show gratitude to his father and became
quite spoiled. The King, wishing to teach him a lesson and turn
him around for the good exiled him the Kingdom.
After a number of years of the boy's absence, the King became
overwhelmed with mercy for his son and wished him to return.
He sent out a royal emissary, an important and trusted minister
to search the Kingdom for his son. After an arduous journey,
the minister located the young man in a remote farming village,
barefoot and dressed in rags, in residence at the local pub and
"Ho Ho How are you? I've been looking for you for so long!",
the ministered stammered in disbelief. "Wonderful, splendid!",
replied the drunken son. "If only I had a pair of boots
and fleece jacket, nobody in the world would be happier than I!"
The minister was crestfallen. How far the boy had degenerated.
He had totally forgotten his royal upbringing His is only desires
were mundane, his only concern his physical desires.
In Psalm 106, the Psalm that recounts the exodus from Egypt, King
David writes, "And he saw their distress when he heard their
song." (v. 44) Yisrael was sunk deep into slavery,
yet they were singing! The apex of slavery is when the slave
becomes reconciled to his situation and no longer desires freedom
"Therefore", explained the Chiddushei HaRim, "Matzo,
which represents freedom and redemption, precedes Maror,
the symbol of enslavement. It is to remind us how far into servitude
Yisrael had descended. Until they were redeemed, they didn't
even realize the bitterness of the slavery.
May we all come out of the dark into the light this Pesach.
A Kosher and Frielichen Pesach
Click here to see Torah on Shev"i Shel Pesach