Posts Tagged ‘Haggadah’

16
Mar

Battling the Nemesis-The Haggadah of Gratitude

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Nemesis is lame; but she is of colossal stature, like the gods, and sometimes, while her sword is not yet unsheathed, she stretches out her huge left arm and grasps her victim.

The mighty hand is invisible, but the victim totters under the dire clutch.

[George Eliot; Scenes of Clerical Life]

I’ve always been struck by the choice of words, “sword not yet unsheathed,” “huge left arm,” and, “mighty hand,” all phrases we use in the Haggadah to describe God striking the Egyptians. We could say that God was their Nemesis.

However, in the story Reverend Amos Burton, a pious man but unpopular parson, “sadly unsuited to the practice of his profession,” loses his wife in childbirth, and receives notice that he has lost his position. All has fallen apart; he feels that life is his nemesis. But it is not life, but he, who is his own nemesis, something I wonder whether he ever understands, even when, at the story’s end, twenty years later, he stands at Milly’s grave.

I picture the moment when the Egyptians are carried by their horses and chariots into the Sea, as their moment of realization that they are being carried by their own decisions, that they are their own nemesis. God’s Sword, Arm, and Hand, were released by them, not Moshe, not even God.

This would explain why Dayeinu immediately follows the counting of the miracles at the Sea; We address our role as our own nemesis with our lack of gratitude. (See “The Haggadah of Breaking Our Anger II.”)

We are so careful with all the laws of Pesach because we want to obey the law, but we can easily forget to perform the Mitzvot with gratitude, and as God’s way of saying Thank You to us (“Infectious Gratitude”).

The Egyptians too began their process of becoming their own nemesis with a lack of gratitude (Listen to, “Shemot-Thanks”).

We can celebrate the entire Seder as an expression of Gratitude:

Fifteen Steps: Thank You for providing the structure within which we can be creative and act with free choice. (“Fifteen Steps-Shelah,” “The Creative Impulse,” “Order! Order!”).

Kadeish: Thank You for empowering us to Sanctify this world, our actions, and connect all to You. (“The Conference of the Birds,” “Family Discussion.”)

Urchatz: Thank You for creating us in Your Image, which we honor by washing our hands. (“Haggadah-Urchatz-Rachtza”).

Yachatz: Thank You for giving us enough to set aside food for the future. (“Broken Matzah-Broken Hallel,” “What Does God Really Want,” “Breaking The Middle Matzah”).

Karpas: Thank You for teaching us the difference between eating as an instinct and eating as royalty (“Rav Kook-Yachatz I”)

Maggid: Thank You for having experiences to share (“Teaching Our Children”), stories to tell (“Owning Our Slippers”), wisdom to convey (“Four Songs of the Four Portions”) and the opportunity (“The Story-Teller and The Maggid”) and means (“Chidah-Fourth Level of Sippur”)to so do. (“Ma Nishtana in the Warsaw Ghetto.”)

Rachtza: Thank You for constantly allowing us to wash our hands each time we rise after we fall (Walking With A Flute VIII”), so we can move ahead.

Motzi: Thank You for our creative spirit that allows us to make bread from wheat (“Finding”).

Matzah: Thank You for the humility necessary for relationships, especially with You (Pesach, Matzah, u’Maror”).

Maror: Thank You for the gifts of empathy (“Connecting The Story”) and patience (“The Maror of Patience”).

Koreich: Thank You for empowering us to share different approaches in our service of You (“Fighting The Fire IX”).

Tzafun: Thank You for empowering us to live with a sense of how much more there is to discover (“Hidden No More”).

Bareich: Thank You for the ability to transform the physical into spiritual (“Moshe and The Burning Bush,” “Ohr Chadash,” and, “Higher Eating”).

Hallel: Thank You for the ability to create eternal realities with our words(“The Blessing of Being Able to Sing”).”

Nirtzah: Thank You for the opportunity to give You Nachas (“A Blessing For God”).

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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16
Mar

Here & Now

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

No longer forward nor behind

I look in hope or fear,

But, grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now and here.

John Greenleaf Whittier 1859

These words struck me as I was reflecting on the Haggadah. Much of the Pesach Seder is either looking forward or behind. We look forward as we prepare for Pesach; even when we search for Chametz, we place it aside till the morrow to be burned. (Countdown to Pesach 15)

We look behind as we burn, for we are taught that this is a process of spiritual cleansing as well.

We spend the day preparing for the Seder, looking forward with hope, and perhaps a little bit of fear as we wonder how well everything will run.

We look forward as we make Kiddush over “the first of four cups of wine.” We wash our hands to prepare for what comes next, Karpas, something difficult to define, that does not, without some creative mental and homiletical gymnastics, address the now and here.

We break the middle matzah placing half away for the future. My experience is that it is difficult to be fully present in Ha Lachma Anya, especially when the younger children are chomping at the bit to demonstrate their Ma Nishtana skills. Questions look to the future; the answers.

We spend a great deal of time speaking of the past, and some, dreaming of the future, but where is the now and here?

I first thought it was in the charge that each of us see ourselves as if we went out of Egypt, but there is that past tense again; “went out!”

The meal is great but we must look forward and save some space for the Afikoman.

I experience Hallel as the preparation for the next stage of life; forward.

The closing section, Nirtzah, although it honors what we have done in the past, is that moment of here and now; we are experiencing the state of accomplishment, in which we celebrate that God found pleasure in our Seder.

But…

It’s an official moment; everyone does it. It’s standard. How do we know that we actually exist in a state of Nirtzah?

Do we examine and evaluate what we have done?

Do we wait to see what happens next to be certain that Nirtzah; it was accepted?

Nirtzah, this here and now moment, cannot depend on another, even God; it is a celebration of our own state of mind: can we allow ourselves to experience an unquestioned state of Nirtzah?

You know what?

Such acceptance demands a great deal of personal freedom…

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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4
Apr

The Undercity That Remained Above – Question

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Whether it is Katherine Boo’s, “behind beautiful forevers,” Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s, “Secret Daughter,” or Lloyd Jones’ “Hand Me Down Forever,” stories of the poor in Asia describe people striving for a better life in the midst of unimaginable cruelty to each other, to their children, to themselves; lives filled with crime just to survive.

I wonder how the Children of Israel survived their slavery in Egypt.  Did they strive to escape their makeshift settlements to live near the skyscraping Pyramids? Did they dream of lounging at moonlight cocktail parties under the Sphinx? Did they form a hierarchy of people with connections who could help them get access to the Cairo Utilities Department? Did fathers murder babies who would drain the family’s finances? Did they steal from each other? Did they fight each other for scraps of food?

We know that this is what desperately poor people are doing in the 21st century; what happened in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago? I wonder.

The Sages are convinced that the Egyptian slaves never fell this low; but how do they know? Is there a hint in the text to indicate that they maintained their humanity?

Do we mention this aspect of their dignity in the Haggadah?

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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4
Apr

The Conference of the Birds

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

One of my favorite parts of the Haggadah is the part that isn’t there: Moshe’s role in redeeming Israel, an appropriate message for groups gathered for the Seder:

In the 12th Century poem, The Conference of the Birds, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their king, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh, a mythical Persian bird roughly equivalent to the Western phoenix. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represent a human fault which prevents man from attaining enlightenment. When the group of thirty birds finally reach the dwelling place of the Simorgh, all they find is a lake in which they see their own reflection.

The story recounts the longing of a group of birds who desire to know the great Simorgh, and who, under the guidance of a leader bird, start their journey toward the land of Simorgh. One by one, they drop out of the journey, each offering an excuse and unable to endure the journey. Each bird has a special significance, and a corresponding didactic fault. The guiding bird is the hoopoe, while the nightingale symbolizes the lover. The parrot is seeking the fountain of immortality, not God and the peacock symbolizes the “fallen soul” who is in alliance with Satan. The thirty birds seeking the Simorgh realize that Simorgh is nothing more than their transcendent totality.

We have a similar story in the Book of Judges, when Yotam, the only surviving child of Gideon, responds to the people who have chosen to follow Avimelech:

“When Yotam was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, ‘Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you:

‘One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’

‘But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’

‘Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’

‘But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’

‘Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’

‘But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’

‘Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’

‘The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’ (Judges 9:7-15).”

Yotam sends a message to Avimelech’s followers, and to us; we lose ourselves when we search for that one person who will take care of everything, who will save us, guide us, and lead us to freedom. It is not the one person, but, to “see their own reflection,” and to realize that what we seek, “is nothing more than their transcendent totality,” what we have when we soar together at the Seder, challenging each other, arguing about ideas that matter to us, questioning God’s role in history and the definition of freedom.

No, Moshe does not directly appear in the Haggadah, because it is not a story about him, but about us.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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31
Mar

Bikkurim-In Our Times

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“When you have entered the land God your Lord is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the first-fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land God your Lord is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place God your Lord will choose as a dwelling for His Name and say to the kohen in office at the time, “I declare today to the God, your Lord that I have come to the land God swore to our ancestors to give us.”  The kohen shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of God, your Lord. Then you shall declare before God, your Lord: [The text we study as part of the Haggadah:] ‘My father was almost destroyed by an Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.  But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor.  Then we cried out to God, the Lord of our ancestors, and God heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the first=fruits of the soil that you, God, have given me.’ Place the basket before God, your Lord and bow down before him. Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the God, your Lord, has given to you and your household (Deuteronomy 26:1-11).”

The director of Zaka being interviewed tells how on the way to Eretz Yisroel with the woman who has just lost her family, she says to him that she wants to give one last hug to her daughter so he brings her to the funeral home and she gives her daughter a hug and says to him “you’re from avodat hakodesh right?” “please say at the kotel that I brought my first fruits; that I brought the best of my children as a sacrifice”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Idwr9cZc-u8

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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28
Mar

Learning Hope

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Hope is related to the very feeling that life has meaning, and as long as it does, we have reason to live.” (Vaclav Havel)

When the rabbis teach that Egypt had an iron wall from which no person ever escaped they are telling us that the slaves in Egypt lived with absolutely no hope of a future; not for themselves, not for their children, not for any generation; they will forever be without hope.

It was in this way that they suffered more than anyone in history. Because even Holocaust victims and survivors who lived not having hope for themselves, or their children, always believed that eventually there would be salvation; the Jews would be saved.

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz shared a story that despite the many times he had repeated it caused sobbing tears. He met a survivor of  Aushwitz, whom he asked to describe some of his experiences and was shocked to hear details of this horrible suffering that despite his familiarity with so many Holocaust stories seemed to have a unique nightmarish quality.

He couldn’t help himself; he had to ask the man, “how did you maintain your faith? How did you continue to have a relationship with God?”

The man looked at him and he said, “Rebbenyu, the blessing of the New Moon – Kiddush Levana.”

The rabbi looked at him with a blank stare; ” the blessing of the New Moon?”

“Of course,” said the man.   “I don’t understand,” said the rabbi, and the man explained:

When we recite the blessing of the new moon we speak of a time when the world and the Jewish people will be renewed just as the moon is renewed. Each time I made the declaration I had hope. I knew that it could happen at any moment. I knew that salvation was at hand, and I knew that I needed to hold on desperately to God so that when that moment arrives I would be ready to leap into my new life.

Hope is the one thing that changed dramatically with the exodus of Egypt.

We learned that there is no such thing as having no hope at all for the future. This is what we celebrate and acknowledge when we recite the first paragraph of the answer in the Haggadah; Avadim Hayeinu.

P.S. Rav Chaim’s wife pointed out that most of us don’t pray on Yom Kippur with the intensity with which this man said Kiddush Levana, and that’s a reason to weep!

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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22
Apr

Still Growing Up

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Reflections & Observations

“The majority of poems one outgrows and outlives, as one outgrows and outlives the majority of human passions: Dante’s is one of those which one can only just hope to grow up to at the end of his life (T. S. Eliot).”

The Haggadah has changed for me from the basic children’s story of my childhood, to a sophisticated perspective of Jewish history and applying its lessons, as did the Rabbis in Bnei Brak, to our times. I have outgrown the Haggadah of my childhood, and find that it is the perfect indicator of how much I have developed since the previous Pesach.

There is one constant: No matter how profound its lessons, I still aspire to be able to read it as did my father zt”l. We would all come to the Seder armed with ideas, questions, and explanations, but our father would read the words with such simple beauty that he answered all our questions just with his reading. (This was true of the way he read everything; a verse, Gemara, Rashi, Rambam, or Halacha; he saw in the basic text far beyond all the commentaries.) I hope to grow up to his reading of the Haggadah by the end of my life.

This year I understood that it is not only my reading of the Haggadah that indicates my growth, but the aspiration of my reading; the deeper my understanding, the more I appreciate my father’s clarity, and the more I aspire to grow up to read as did he.

There is a bittersweet quality to such aspiration; Almost twelve years after his death, I am still discovering more of his greatness. I realize that, although I revered him while he was alive; I revere him far more now, and I am pained that I did not have such reverence while he was alive. My father is still teaching me, touching me, guiding me. So, while most others outgrow their desire to be like their fathers, I hope to grow up to be like him by the end of my life.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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18
Apr

Hallel: Chol haMoed Pesach: Journey to the Mountain VI

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Their gratitude did not lessen as the days increased:“Give thanks to God Who is good, for His kindness is forever!

Let Israel declare that His Kindness is forever!

Let the House of Aaron declare that His kindness is forever!

Let those who are in awe of God declare that His kindness is forever!

They needed to call on their strengths in order to continue singing.

“I called to the Creator of Heaven and Earth from a tight spot, and He answered me broadly.”

They lived within the protection of the Clouds of Glory, and sang:

“God is with me, I have no fear; what can people do to me? God is with me to help me, so I can confront my enemies. It is better to depend in God than to trust people. It is better to depend on God than to trust people in power. All the nations surrounded me but I survived them in God’s Name. They surrounded and encircled me but I survived them in God’s Name. Though they surrounded me like a swarm of bees, they were snuffed out like burnt thorns. I survived them in God’s Name.”

When they felt their confidence weaken, they recalled:

“I was pushed to fall but God helped me. The Creator of Heaven and Earth is my Help and my Hammer, and became my Savior. Song and victory sound in the tents of the just. God’s Hand makes victory. God’s Hand is supreme. God’s Hand makes victory!”

To what did they aspire?

“I will not die but live, and tell of the doings of the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”

They could not look back on the entire story, not just on the thrill of redemption:

“The Creator afflicted me to direct me but did not destroy me.”

They witnessed God’s judgment against the Egyptians, and prayed:

“Open the gates of justice for me, I will enter and thank the Creator. This is the gate to God, the just may enter here. I thank You for answering me, You became my salvation.”

Rather than wonder what they had become other than wanderers, they sang:

“The stone rejected by the builders became the cornerstone. This happened because of God; it is wondrous in our eyes.”

They realized that each day offered a unique opportunity:

“This is the day God made; let us sing and be happy with it.”

And they prayed for the future:

“Please God; Save us!

Please God; Make us successful!”

And then prayed for the opportunity to use their future to:

“Bless those who come in God’s Name; we bless you from God’s House.

God is The Power and gave us Light.

Wave your holiday branches up to the corners of the altar.

You are my Power and I thank You, My Lord and I will exalt You.

Give thanks to God Who is good, for His kindness is forever!”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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18
Apr

Hallel: Chol haMoed Pesach: Journey to the Mountain V

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Imagine a nation marching through the desert, convinced that their journey was a lesson to the world of God’s kindness and truth! Imagine being able to sing with them, not because of great miracles, and not because God was defeating their enemies, but because of the way we experience a life in relationship with God!

“All you nations; Praise God!

Sing compliments, all you peoples!

For His kindness overpowers us, and God’s Truth is forever.

Hallelukah!”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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18
Apr

Hallel: Chol haMoed Pesach: Journey to the Mountain IV

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

If the people on the second, third, …sixth day of their journey, could still sense the blessing that was expanding, they understood that they were not dependent on externals, but had developed the wherewithal within; they had become independent. They understood that they would have to become active participants in building their future, and realized that they would begin by living a life that would be an expression of gratitude:

“What can I respond to God for all the good He has given to make me independent?

I will lift up the cup of salvation and I will call out in God’s Name.

I will fulfill my promises to God in front of all His nation.

Death to His pious ones is precious in God’s eyes.

Please God, allow me to be Your servant.

I am Your worker, the son of Your maidservant,

You unlocked my chains.

I will bring an offering of thanks to You, and I will call out in the Name of God.

I will fulfill my promises to God in front of all His nation.

In the courtyards of God’s House, in the center of Jerusalem.

Hallelukah!”

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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