Chassidic Dimension: Pesach 5769

Posted on April 7, 2009. Filed under: Chassidic Dimension Pesach, Jewish Customs, Pesach 2009, Pesach 5769, Pesach Insights, Sichos In English, The Truth, Torah, True, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

B”H

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The Chassidic Dimension – Volume 4

Interpretations of the Weekly Torah Readings and the Festivals.

Based on the Talks of The Lubavitcher Rebbe,

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.

Pesach 5769

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“Poor Man’s Bread”

The Maggid – the section of the Haggadah for Passover wherein the

actual tale of the Exodus is recounted – opens as follows: “This

[Matzah] is the bread of the poor that our ancestors ate in the

land of Egypt. Let all those who are hungry come and eat with

us….”

A number of things must be understood. Why do we use the expression?

“This[1] is the bread … that our ancestors ate” when it is not

the actual bread, but merely something similar? Additionally, this

passage seems merely to serve as an invitation for anyone who is

hungry to join in the Passover Seder. How does this relate to the

tale of the Exodus?

Moreover, as this is the first passage in the Maggid, we understand

that it contains a message that is crucial to the entire tale of

the Exodus. What is this message?

Our Sages inform us that in every generation, [2] and in fact every

day, [3] we are to see ourselves as if we are departing from

Egypt. [4] In keeping with this theme, the matzos we are eating,

baked as they were before Passover, are actually the matzos “that

were eaten in the land of Egypt.”

This explains why this passage begins the Maggid, for it informs us

that, to as great an extent as possible, we are not only to recount

the tale of the Exodus, but to actually relive the Exodus; we are

the ones leaving Egypt.

But how is this message related to the “bread of the poor”? And how

does this connect to the sentence that follows: “Let all those who

are hungry come and eat with us….”?

As long as a person is aware of himself, he has yet to leave Egypt,

or Mitzrayim, which in Hebrew means straits and limitations, and so

it is impossible for him to truly relive the Exodus. After all,

thousands of years have passed since the original event; how can he

be expected to relive it in a different century and living under

completely different conditions?

In order to truly relive the Exodus, a person must be able to

transcend the bonds of time and space in which he finds himself.

Only then will he be able to feel that he is actually leaving

Egypt.

This is accomplished when a person realizes how truly insignificant

he is; that he is indeed poor, and the food he is eating – that

which is responsible for his very existence – is “poor man’s

bread.” Eating “this very bread” enables him to become

appropriately humble and thus relive the Exodus.

This is also the connection to the passage in which we invite total

strangers to partake in our meal. As long as we think of ourselves

and our needs first, it is difficult to share with others, since

this means having less for ourselves. However, by acquiring the

humility necessary for reliving the Exodus, one will also become

able to share his meal.

The passage that starts “This is the bread…” concludes with:

“This year we are here. Next year may we all be in Eretz Yisrael.

This year we are still slaves. Next year may we all be free.”

What connection does the final section have with the sentences that

preceded it? According to the above, the connection is clear:

Eretz Yisrael is “a land that is constantly under G-d your L-rd’s

scrutiny; the eyes of G-d your L-rd are on it at all times.”[5] As

such, it is only by attaining the humility commensurate with eating

“poor man’s bread” that we are able to acquire “Eretz Yisrael.”

For as long as man is an entity unto himself, G-d will not reside

within him, for “G-d only resides within an entity that is

nullified to Him.”[6] Only when a person achieves a state of total

self-abnegation – “poor man’s bread” – will he attain the ability

to have G-d reside within him at all times – the level of Eretz

Yisrael.

The same is true regarding the statement: “Next year may we all be

free.” As long as a person is confined within his own limitations,

it is impossible for him to be free. By achieving total

self-nullification – “poor man’s bread” – he rises above all

limitations and becomes truly free.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VII, pp. 259-263.

Notes:

1. See Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein 473:14.

2. Mishnah, Pesachim 116b.

3. Addition of the Alter Rebbe at the beginning of ch. 47 of Tanya.

4. Ibid.

5. Devarim 11:12.

6. Tanya, ch. 6; see also ibid., ch. 19.

——————————

“A Belted Waist, Shod Feet and Staff in Hand”

Among the laws unique to the first Paschal offering was the

obligation that it be eaten “with your waist belted, your shoes on

your feet and your staff in your hand.”[1] This indicated the

Jewish people’s readiness to leave Egypt and their belief in their

impending freedom.[2]

Every detail in Torah serves as a lesson in a Jew’s life.[3] This

is especially so with regard to something as encompassing as

remembering the Exodus, an “important fundament and a mighty pillar

of our Torah and our Faith.”[4]

What lesson are we to derive in our own spiritual exodus from the

above-mentioned law?

Among the most important elements in a person’s life are his

achievements, particularly his spiritual and moral

accomplishments.[5] One should strive to attain these achievements

in the most complete manner possible.

It goes without saying that in order to embark on this path, a

person must first free himself from all his negative

characteristics and tendencies – elements that hinder, or at least

sharply limit, one’s ability to strive toward a life of spiritual

and moral accomplishment.

There are three specific areas in which people strive for

accomplishment, achievement and completion: with regard to oneself,

with regard to one’s immediate environs, and finally, with regard

to the greater world.[6] The way to achieve success in all these

areas is alluded to in the verse quoted above.

Spiritual and moral attainment with regard to a person himself

encompasses one’s entire mode of conduct, both with regard to

refraining from evil and to doing positive deeds, performing Torah

and mitzvos to the best of his ability.

The verse alludes to this by stating “with your waist belted.” We

readily observe that the mid-section keeps the entire body

upright.[7] In other words, the verse is telling us that we should

always behave in a proper and upright manner.

The second area in the struggle for achievement and completion

pertains to one’s relationship with his fellow man and immediate

environs. The individual seeks to help all those with whom he comes

in contact, seeking to enhance their lives, as well as generally

striving to imbue his surroundings with holiness.[8]

This is alluded to by the words “your shoes on your feet.” It is

specifically the feet that come in contact with the ground, which

is rife with objects that may harm the one who treads upon them.

Rugged protective garments are a must if someone is to walk in a

place that may be fraught with danger.[9]

So too when a person leaves his own spiritually comfortable

setting, his own spiritual “space,” and tries to influence his

surroundings – surroundings that may seek to rend, tear and gouge

his spirituality. In order to be sure that he effectively

influences others and is not himself influenced to the contrary, he

needs an extra spiritual protective layer[10] – “your shoes on your

feet.”

The third area in a person’s life pertains to that part of the

world that seems so distant from him, either physically or

spiritually, that he has no idea how to reach out to it.

Nevertheless, “Each and every individual is obliged to say: ‘The

entire world was created for my sake,’ “[11] i.e., one’s

responsibility extends far beyond one’s immediate confines.

The way in which one extends his grasp and reaches out to the world

as a whole is through the “staff in your hand.” This staff will be

either the “staff of kindness” or the “staff of sternness,”[12]

whatever is most appropriate and effective. In all events, the

staff is a symbol of dominion, whereby an individual extends his

might and influence.

Although this task is daunting, the festival of Pesach, with its

concomitant spiritual empowerment, enables us to succeed. We then

merit that “I will satiate him with long days, and show him My

deliverance,”[13] with the speedy arrival of our righteous

Moshiach.[14]

Based on Hagaddah Shel Pesach im Likkutei Taamim, Minhagim

U’Biurim, Vol. II, pp. 775-784.

Notes:

1. Shmos 12:11.

2. Commentators, ibid.

3. See Radak, Tehillim 19:8; Gur Aryeh, beginning of Bereishis; Zohar,

Vol. III, p. 53b; HaYom Yom, p. 52.

4. Chinuch, Mitzvah 21.

5. See Tanya ch. 29 (36a), beginning of ch. 32; Commentary of Radvaz

on Rambam, Hilchos Mamrim 2:4.

6. See Shabbos 54b.

7. See Igeres HaKodesh, Epistle I, Or HaTorah p. 306ff.; Hemshech

VeKachah 5637, ch. 4.

8. See Tanya, ch. 36.

9. See Hemshech VeKachah, ibid., ch. 113; Taanis 23b.

10. See Toras Chayim, Beshallach, p. 221b ff.; Or HaTorah, Shir

HaShirim, Vol. III, p. 987ff.

11. Sanhedrin 37a; Rambam, Hilchos Sanhedrin 3:12.

12. See Zechariah 11:7. See also Sanhedrin 24a; Hemshech VeKachah,

ibid., ch. 116ff.

13. Tehillim 91:16.

14. See commentaries on this verse.

——————————

Moshiach’s Feast

One of the most important elements of Pesach, the festival that

celebrates the freedom of the Jewish people, is that it serves as

a preparation for the complete and eternal Redemption through our

righteous Moshiach.[1]

Thus the verse states:[2] “I shall reveal wonders [at the time of

the final Redemption that are] similar to [those that were

revealed at] the time of your exodus from Egypt.” In fact,[3] the

exodus from Egypt made all subsequent redemptions possible, the

final one as well.

More specifically: the first days of Pesach relate mostly to the

exodus from Egypt, while the last days are more closely connected

to the coming Redemption.[4] This is also to be seen from the

Haftoras read during the final two days, dealing as they do with

the theme of each day:[5]

The Haftorah of the seventh day of Pesach is the Song of David,[6]

since on that day (as well as on the final day of Pesach) there is

a connection to Moshiach, a descendent of David.[7] Particularly

so with regard to the Haftorah on the final day, which speaks

directly about the coming Redemption.

During these two last days of Pesach, the greatest emphasis on the

final Redemption is found on the final day, Acharon Shel Pesach,

when the Haftorah speaks openly and at length about the coming

Redemption, and about the personality of Moshiach himself,[8] the

conduct of the world at that time,[9] and the ingathering of the

Jews.[10]

The relationship between Acharon Shel Pesach and the coming

Redemption was revealed to an even greater extent by the Baal Shem

Tov,[11] who instituted a special third and final Acharon Shel

Pesach meal, naming it “Moshiach’s Feast” because “this day is

illuminated by a ray of the light of Moshiach.”[12]

Even before the Baal Shem Tov instituted this special additional

meal, Moshiach was commemorated by the special Haftorah recited on

Acharon Shel Pesach. What is the significance of celebrating

something as lofty as the future Redemption with another physical

meal?

Commemorating the coming Redemption in such a fashion also causes

its radiance to permeate the individual not only in his thought

and speech (something accomplished by reciting the Haftorah), but

also in his physical body. Thus this concept is assimilated within

the person’s actual body.

Additionally, celebration and commemoration by a meal points to

the holiness that will permeate the entire physical world when

Moshiach comes. For at that time “the glory of G-d shall be

revealed, and all flesh shall observe….”[13] This permeating of

the material by the spiritual is best realized by the

sanctification of food.

For a Jew eats even an ordinary meal with the intention of

bringing holiness into this world, and how much more so with

regard to a meal on a holy day! Surely, then, the special

once-a-year Acharon Shel Pesach “Moshiach’s Feast” enables us to

better realize how all of physicality will be imbued with holiness

at the time of the Redemption.

The effect of this special event is, of course, not limited to the

day of Acharon Shel Pesach itself. Rather, the idea is that it

should affect the Jew throughout the year, so that all he does in

relation to the mundane world will be permeated with holiness and

spirituality, like the spirituality that will permeate the world

upon Moshiach’s arrival.

The lesson of Acharon Shel Pesach, however, is not limited to

man’s relationship to the physical world; it also relates to each

Jew’s inner spirituality. For the level of Moshiach is at the core

of every Jewish soul. Acharon Shel Pesach enables each Jew to

reveal this core throughout the year, thereby serving G-d with

every fiber of his being.

Based on Sefer HaSichos 5748, Vol. II, pp. 384-386.

Notes:

1. See Haggadah Shel Pesach im Likkutei Taamim, Minhagim U’Biurim p.

32.

2. Michah 7:15; cf. Or HaTorah, Nach, on this verse (p. 487).

3. See Sefer HaMaamarim 5708, p. 164; Sefer HaMaamarim Melukat, Vol.

II, p. 37ff.

4. Sefer HaSichos 5700, p. 72.

5. Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, Orach Chayim 480:5-6.

6. Megillah 31a; Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 490:8 Shulchan

Aruch Admur HaZakein, ibid. sub-section 13.

7. Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. IV, p. 701a.

8. Yeshayahu 11:1-3.

9. Ibid., verses 6-9.

10. Ibid., verses 11-12.

11. See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VII, p. 273ff.

12. HaYom Yom, p. 47.

13. Yeshayahu 40:5.

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End of text – The Chassidic Dimension – Volume 4 – Pesach

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