24 March 2015

Getting Ready for Pesach

4 Nisan 5775


It's not just about the housecleaning!

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Pesach by Rav Zvi Leshem (Midreshet Yeud)

When Adam and Eve ate from the Eitz HaDa’at (tree of knowledge), several problems resulted, plaguing humanity ever since. All of our Avodat HaShem is designed to “fix” (Tikkun) this primordial sin, rectifying creation and preparing the way for the final redemption.

Firstly their sin caused Pgam HaDa’at-the corruption of consciousness. The curiosity that cause Adam and Eve to opt for Da’at instead of relying on Emunah (faith), damaged our ability to relate properly to HaShem, Da’at being the knowledge implied in the deepest relationship. (V’HaAdam Yada Et Chava Ishto)

Secondly the misuse of language on the part of the snake to tempt Eve, by Eve to tempt Adam, and by Adam to make excuses for himself caused Pgam HaDibbur- the corruption of language. This is especially grave in light of the fact that language distinguishes humanity from animals, as a person is called Midaber, “the speaker.” Thus the corruption of language is a severe lack of human integrity. One of the manifestations is our difficulty in avoiding prohibited speech, such as Lashon Hara (Shem MiShmuel).

Thirdly of course, is the Pgam HaAchila- the corruption of eating, caused by the sin itself. Next time you are tempted to cheat on your diet realize that the temptation to eat is a very deeply engrained human trait, dating back to the beginning of history! (This is not an excuse. It should spur you on to further self-control, the cosmos depends on it!)

According to many Chassidic sources ( Rebbe Nachman and Rav Tzaddok HaKohen), the Egyptian bondage and redemption are part of the process of rectifying this primordial sin in all of its manifestations. And since every year we as individuals and as the Jewish people re-experience this spiritual journey, our Pesach experience, and especially that of the Seder, helps us to work on these three areas, Da’at (consciousness), Dibbur (speech), and Achilah (eating).

In Lekutai Aytzot (Mo’adei HaShem, Pesach 3) Rebbe Nachman says that by reciting the Haggadah out loud, we arouse our Da’at, for speech is an external manifestation of consciousness. Through this process we merit the revelation of HaShem’s Da’at, which is the essence of the redemption. This is predicated upon the understanding that the physical exile and redemption are external manifestations of a deeper spiritual process.

The fixing of Dibbur (speech) occurs through the recital of the Haggadah. The Sod Yesharim (Pesach 23) points out that according to Rabban Gamliel it is not sufficient to perform the Mitzvot, we must also discuss them. Rav Tzaddok (Pri Tzaddik, Pesach 2) goes a step further. It is not enough to discuss—we must do so in the manner of questions and answers, for only through the process of questioning can we internalize the feeling of the lack of understanding, for which the story of the Exodus provides the answers. Through this process we experience Geulat HaDibbur, the redemption of speech, as did our ancestors upon leaving Egypt.

Our eating and drinking are perfected through the Mitzvot of Matzah, Morror, the drinking of the four cups and ideally, the Passover sacrifice. The centrality of eating at the Seder is so crucial, that this is the only time of the year that we make Birchot HaMitzvah (Asher Kiddishanu BaMitzvotav Vitzeivanu) on eating! (Rav Zaddok, Pri Zaddik, Pesach 1). Even the custom of the Karpas, a vegetable, reminds us that Adam was cursed to eat from the ground instead of from the fruit of the trees. All of this eating, says Rav Zaddok, is to correct the primordial sin in general, and Pgam HaAchilah in particular.

The Mei HaShiloach (part two, Parshat Bo) sums it up beautifully. “ ‘So that the Torah of HaShem will be in your mouth’; on the first night of Pesach, HaShem commands man to refine his mouth. Indeed, the powers of the mouth are eating, drinking, and speech. HaShem commanded the eating of Matzah and the drinking of the cups of wine, and through this one refines one’s eating and drinking of the entire year…. Regarding the power of speech HaShem commands the telling of the story of the Exodus, and this protects us all year long from speaking prohibited language. This explains the verse ‘so that the Torah of HaShem will be in your mouth’, that all of the powers of the mouth will be completely perfected and filled with the words of the Torah”.

May it be HaShem’s will that we fulfill all of the Mitzvot of this holy night properly according to Halacha and with the deepest intentions. May we merit to completely rectify the primordial sin and witness the complete redemption in this Chodesh Nissan, the month of Israel’s redemption. Chag Sameach.