Posts Tagged ‘Haggadah’

30
Mar

Patience While Suffering

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Patience, how it mitigates physical pain, makes it easier, more bearable, even lighter. It’s a question of non-resistance, mental resignation, a certain quieting of mind while suffering. You can sneer at this virtue or call it cowardice if you like; When resistance ceases, troubles and suffering become easier, lighter. (Giacomo Leopardi, December 30, 1826)

I remember the first time that I was able to stay awake until the end of the Seder. If I recall correctly, I managed to stay awake all Shavuot night before managing to stay awake until the end of the Seder. Perhaps it was all the grape juice that made me fall asleep. I clearly remember experiencing my eyes becoming heavy and falling asleep as suffering.

My father zt”l somehow caught the look on my face, my suffering, and said, “Let me explain to you the difference between the Wise son and the Wicked: the Wise Son asks for details; he asks about the testimonies, the statutes, and the laws. The Wicked Son bundles everything together and asks about the whole thing, without any details; “What is this service to you?” The Wicked Son is impatient. He doesn’t want to hear all the details. He wants a simple answer. He suffers through the Seder with all its details. The Wise Son however, has the patience to pay attention to each detail. He doesn’t suffer through the Seder; he thrives. Try to be more patient, and you’ll be able to stay awake as long as you want.”

As usual, he was right. I stopped being impatient for the Seder to end so that I could finally claim to have been awake for an entire Seder. I began to pay attention to the details of each moment and each step. All of a sudden, I was no longer suffering. I learned a powerful lesson about patience.

I have been hospitalized many times. The hospital stay often was worse than the illness and pain. I couldn’t wait to get out, to return home to my own bed. I didn’t have patience for all the doctors and their tests, certainly not for all the theories. That is, until I remembered my father’s lesson about patienceI stopped resisting the details. I stopped resenting all the horrible aspects of being hospitalized. I practiced the patience of the Wise Son, and the suffering was mitigated; it became bearable.

I always wonder about the hours between the conclusion of the first Pesach and beginning of the journey out of Egypt which began only the next morning. The people had been instructed to eat the Pesach with their travel clothes on and their bags packed, as if they were immediately leaving on their trip. Yet, midnight came, the First Born of Egypt died, the Egyptians were crying, the plague itself was over, but they didn’t leave. They waited.

They waited just as they had to wait through all those months of the plagues wondering, “when are we finally going to leave?” They waited just as they had waited for redemption since the slavery began. All this waiting, why?

Eventually, these people ended up waiting forty years until they were able to enter Israel. All this waiting; why?

Patience. “Perhaps, there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.” (Franz Kafka, in W H Auden, The Dyer’s Hand)

The Redemption from Egypt is all about Time: God offers as His first commandment to the nation, the law of Sanctification of the New Moon. Many of the plagues are an issue of time; “When would you like me to remove the Frogs?” “Tomorrow I will stop the Hail.” “At midnight, God will slay all the First Born.” Patience is an essential key to learning about Time. Adam and Eve failed in Paradise because they were impatient. If we were to learn how to have a relationship with God, Above and Beyond Time, we had to learn to live according to His schedule, not ours.

The impatience of the Wicked Son causes us to miss the lessons of many essential details and important moments. It distracts us. It causes suffering. Patience, however, not only mitigates the suffering, it frees us of the boundaries of time; the first lesson of the Pesach offering, the lesson of Parshat Hachodesh.

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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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29
Mar

The Lessons of a Stained Haggadah

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Relationships

“Certainly one cannot read this poem without effort. The page is often corrupt and mud-stained, and torn and stuck together with faded leaves, with scraps of verbena or geranium. One must put aside antipathies and jealousies and not interrupt. One must have patience and infinite care and let the light sound, whether of spiders’ delicate feet on a leaf or the chuckle of water in some irrelevant drainpipe, unfold too.”

“The Waves,” Virginia Woolf, 1931

 

Reminds me of the Seder!

When we set the table for the Seder, we would place a huge comfortable chair for my grandfather zt”l in front of his own table as the top of a T, placed against the table around which the rest of us would sit.  Why did he need his own table? He wanted us to gather his hundreds of commentaries on the Haggadah and pile them on his table for him NOT to use!

“Why does Zaidy not look at his Haggadahs if they’re in front of him?”

“I want you to see that I’m more interested in what my grandchildren will say than I am in what is in all these Haggadahs!”

You may not know, but Weinbergs are opinionated! (Shocking, I know!) Each of us had our own ideas, and had to practice patience in front of our grandfather, not interrupt, and listen carefully to what everyone had to say (yes, even That sister!) because our Zaidy would often ask us to repeat what someone else said.

The Seder became an exercise in self-control, patience, and listening with respect.

I decided that I would emulate my grandfather and use the same simple Maxwell House Haggadah every year. No commentaries. Its pages are stained with wine and filled with bits and pieces of Marror and Matzah crumbs. I look at my simple Haggadah and remember my grandfather’s lesson of listening to what everyone else has to say.

The Seder becomes an exercise in listening; or, as my grandfather would say: “How does the parent know which of the Four Sons is asking? By listening.

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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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29
Mar

The Patience of a Sheep

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Holidays, Portion of the Week

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and

self-contain’d,

I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of

owning things,

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of

years ago,

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

”Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman

It was clear to them that God could take them out of Egypt in an instant, but for some reason, He had chosen to take His time. The Plagues had already lasted more than six months. Six months of no work. Six months of no abuse. Six months of self respect. Six months of not knowing what was next. They were becoming impatient.

Finally, Moshe summoned them, and began to speak. It was his first speech to them since they stormed away from him after his first meeting with Pharaoh and things got worse. He had tried to speak, but the people were too exhausted from their increased work load to even listen to him. Things were different now. They were willing to listen. Most of all, they wanted to know what was next. They were impatient.

Moshe presented the laws of Passover and the Pesach Offering. He instructed them to take the animal on the Tenth day of the month and and wait until the 14th. Most understood that this simple act was a declaration of Spiritual war with the Egyptians who worshipped these animals as gods. The Children of Israel were going to fearlessly slaughter the Egyptian gods in front of their former masters, and the Egyptians were helpless to stop it.  People understood the point. Perhaps they even appreciated it, but, “five more days?” More waiting? They were impatient.

Except, that is, for one child staring out the window from morning till night at the sheep in its pen in front of the house. He couldn’t stop staring.

His parents were initially pleased. He was staying out of their way and, unusual for him, wasn’t causing any trouble. By the third day; they were concerned. Television would be better. Wii would be okay. But a sheep! How can someone stare at a sheep all day for three days?

“I love watching how peaceful they are,” he said in response to their question, “everyone  is nervous, agitated and impatient, but the sheep is perfectly content, placid and patient. I wish you guys could be like that even for just a few minutes!”

His parents joined him on the couch, staring out the window at the sheep. They felt themselves relax. The kid had a point.

Pesach is Pesach. The adults could not afford to sheep watch all day. They had to clean the house, prepare for the guests, and pack everything they wanted to take with them on their journey. Back to work it was! They were too busy to be impatient.

Pesach began. They offered their Pesach sacrifice. They rushed through the meal. They finished and began to hear the screams from the Egyptian neighborhoods. They were waiting. They were impatient again. That is, except for a little boy and his parents who had learned patience from the sheep in the yard.

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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24
Mar

Work Ethic

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Even so, after the hard work of man and ox to turn

earth over, nothing stops the goose to uproot wheat,

Eurasian cranes, and chicory with its bitter roots,

nor is heavy shade harmless. The Father himself hardly

willed that agriculture would be easy when he called forth

the field with his art, whetting human minds with worries,

not letting his kingdom slip into full blown laziness (Virgil).”

“In every generation a person must see himself as if he went out of Egypt.”

We know well the feeling of laboring for nothing; “nothing stops the goose to uproot wheat.”

We know well the sense of constantly worrying whether our work will pay, whether we will have enough to support our family; “whetting human minds with worries.”

We do have a sense of what it meant to work as a slave in Egypt.

Virgil explained that it is all so as to, “not let(ting) his kingdom slip into full blown laziness.”

Who is the “laziest” person in the Haggadah?

The Son Who Does Not (Care Enough to) Ask. Even the Wicked son bothers to ask.

When we apply Virgil’s observations to questioning the world, Torah, and what we know, they take on new meaning:

They describe the person who has struggled for years to study Gemara (Talmud) without success. Virgil’s words can be used to describe the person who feels that it is so easy to lose everything he has gained in his Torah study and Service of God. They describe the person who worries that no matter how much she studies it is not enough. His words are an apt description of the person who has been searching for years to find his special connection to his Torah study and Mitzvot, but is constantly frustrated by wind blowing it all out of his reach.

When we are asked to view ourselves as having gone out of Egypt, and knowing the pain of slave labor; we are being asked to acknowledge the moments when even our Service of God feels like heavy labor.

The standard is defined at the Seder, at the time of the Four Children, and our response to those moments; we have a choice on the Seder night whether to work hard to add meaning to every step, or whether we will suffer through as does the Child who does not ask. Will we challenge ourselves to find meaning in each word and every step, as does the Wise child; or will we wait for someone to hand it to us all ready and prepared, as does the Simple child? Or, will we, at least, put up a fight, challenging those around us to explain what they see in their individual work, as does the Wicked child?

Our Avodah at the Seder is our Work Ethic.

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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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23
Mar

Owning Our Slippers

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

It was a tale well known to children all over Africa: Abu Kassem, a miserly Baghdad merchant, has held onto his battered, much repaired pair of slippers even though they were objects of derision. At last, even he couldn’t stomach the sight of hem. But his every attempt to get rid of his slippers ended in disaster: when he tossed them out of his window they landed on the head of a pregnant woman who miscarried, and Abu Kassem was thrown in jail; when he dropped them in the canal, the slippers choked off the main drain, and caused flooding, and off Abu Kassem went to jail…

One night, when Tawfiq finished (sharing this story), another prisoner, a quiet, dignified old man said, “Abu Kassem might as well build a special room for his slippers. Why try to lose them? He’ll never escape.”

“I hope one day you see this as clearly as I did when I was in prison. The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don’t. If you keep saying your slippers aren’t yours, then you’ll die searching, you’ll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.” (From “Cutting for Stone,” by Abraham Verghese, Vintage Books)

I love the tale of Abu Kassem’s slippers and its lessons. I found allusions to Pesach: “If you keep saying your slippers aren’t yours, then you’ll die searching,” a lesson about Searching for Chametz and how it hints to our search for meaning that must begin by searching for the negative we must remove from our lives before we can search for our path and mission.

“You’ll die bitter,” obviously an allusion to Marror, the bitterness in our lives that comes from not having a sense of purpose.

The most significant is the idea of “Owning your slippers,” “own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have,” which is one of the primary themes of the Haggadah: “In every generation a person is obligated to view himself as if he went out of Egypt,” the Egypt story is our pair of slippers. It is part of who we are and we cannot throw it out the window, or toss it into the canal. It is our’s and we must own it, understand it, apply its lessons, or else we will, as in the story, “die searching, you’ll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.”

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
Mar

The Creative Impulse

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Man must be doing something, or fancy that he is doing something, for in him throbs the creative impulse; the mere basker in the sunshine is not a natural, but an abnormal man (Henry George).”

I find it fascinating that the most structured night of the Jewish calendar is also the most creative. We have exact instructions as to what to do at each step of the Pesach Seder, and yet, every single one of those steps and instructions stimulates the most creative and vibrant discussions. It’s as if the Seder, the structure, nurtures the creative impulse.

People often ask how can we celebrate being freed from the Egyptian slavery when all that happened was that we were called into a very structured and demanding relationship with an even Higher Authority, God?

The Seder is the response to that question. The only purpose of this structure, of the laws, of the numerous instructions, the Seder, is to nurture our creative impulse.

I am convinced that this is the true meaning of the first step of the Seder; Kaddeish, or Sanctification. The sanctity of our actions is derived not from the robotic following of the instructions, but from their expansion through our creative questions and insights.

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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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19
Mar

Order! Order!

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Please God, I need some order! I am overwhelmed by everything that’s happening in the world. An earthquake in New Zealand. Flooding in Australia. An earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Egypt in disarray. Yemen, Libya, Baharain, and Lebanon, all in upheaval. A scary economy. Israel under constant physical and political attack. A family massacred in Israel and the world remains silent! Please, please God, give us a sense of order.

The Pesach Seder unsurprisingly, means “order.” Our holiday of freedom, Pesach, demands order. People can’t feel free unless there is order. So where is the order in our lives? How are we to prepare for Pesach when the only word we can use to describe the world as it is, is, disorder?

The Maharal of Prague explains that one of the reasons we refer to the Pesach night service as Seder is to remind us that the real order is, shockingly, in the Divine Guidance of miracles! We tend to see miracles as something out of the natural order of things. The Maharal explains that the real order is not the way the natural world runs, as we have certainly seen over the last few weeks, but in God’s system of miracles.

Our first job as we sit down on Pesach night and begin the ceremony, is to remind ourselves that our intention is to focus on God’s system, or shall we say, order, that can be found in His miracles. There definitely is an order to this; an order we can discover as we explore the Haggadah.

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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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7
Jan

“A Place of My Own” From The Diary of A Former Slave

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Holidays, Portion of the Week

The Original Mezuzah?

“Moshe,” we said, “most of us can’t afford an animal of our own for the Pesach Offering. We haven’t received the Egyptian treasures yet!”

“Join together. Learn how to function as a community, something you haven’t done as slaves.”

Someone laughed, “You know guys, this is like a fixing of what Joseph’s brothers did to him. We have to learn how to live together. Isn’t this part of the “story” you told us about, Moshe?”

“Very good,” said our teacher, for that was what he had become, “you will repair the brothers’ sin. You will eat the offering on one place, all together. You cannot leave the house. You cannot take any of the Pesach out of the home.”

“That’s funny,” someone commented, “we’re about to leave on a journey to who knows where, and you are telling us about having a place!”

“Even better,” said our Rebbi, “how long has it been since you have had a sense of place?”

He was right. We smiled.

“You will learn how to create a sense of place wherever you are,” continued Moshe. “You will be able to create a home wherever you go, wherever we travel; every place along the journey. You create the place. The place doesn’t make you. Wasn’t that what got you into trouble in Egypt? You wanted to prove this was your place, as if the place was more important than you. No longer. You can have your place wherever you are.”

“I always wanted a mobile home!”

“You know,” someone said, “we should have a permanent way to remember that!”

“You will,” said Moshe, “it will be called a Mezuzah, and you’ll use it just like the Sign of the Blood on the Doorpost.”

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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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7
Jan

“The Original Afikoman” From The Diary of A Former Slave

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

“Moshe Rabbeinu,” someone said, “you taught us that we have to make a sign on the doorpost to protect us during the Plague of the First Born, which will begin at midnight. Then you told us that we have to finish our Pesach meal before midnight. Wouldn’t it make sense for us to eat the Offering during the plague, not before?”

“Good question,” said Moshe, “but when is the last time you felt that something you did was important enough to last?”

“Never!”

“Exactly,” Moshe responded, “from now on you will know that whatever you do has lasting importance. The “Sign of the Blood on the Door” is a lesson that the things you do not only can protect you, they have a lasting effect. Your descendants will call it the Afikoman.

“By the way; there’s more…”

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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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7
Jan

“Connecting The Story” From The Diary Of A Former Slave

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week

A strange thing happened in the moments just after we bowed to God in joy. It was almost as if our new confidence had corrupted us. We began speaking to each other without respect, with arrogance, not much different from the way our Egyptian masters used to speak to us.

“Quiet!” ordered Moshe, “do you not remember what it was like to be on the receiving end of such verbal bullying?”

He was right. We stood silently in our shame.

“You are becoming puffed-up.”

“ Rabbi Moshe,” we said, “we don’t know how to manage these intense feelings.”

“God told me that you would not. He also gave me instructions for you to learn how to manage these changes.”

This was unbelievable! God was healing us. He was changing us, and now, He was guiding us in managing our feelings. We had spent the six months of the plagues thinking of God’s power. We were scared of Him. Now, we were learning that He is so much more. We were desperate for Moshe to continue:

“God wants you to remove any leavened dough from your homes before you make your Pesach Offering and while you are eating it. Do you understand why?”

We understood. God was telling us that our natural reaction to these new feelings would be exactly what happened; we would become arrogant. Puffed-up. Arrogant.

“He wants you to actively destroy the leavened bread, the Chameitz. We all have to actively work at destroying arrogance.”

We understood.

“What will we eat?” we asked.

“Matzah, unleavened bread.”

Matzah was not something we wanted to eat. It was too familiar to us from the horrible meals the Egyptians provided.

“God also wants you to eat bitter herbs.”

Matzah, bitter herbs. God wanted us to remember the suffering.

Moshe continued, “Remember, your suffering is part of your story. You cannot forget the past. You will eat the Matzah and Marror with your Pesach Offering and connect the bitter past with your future.”

We didn’t wait for Moshe to say, “And there’s more!” We wanted more. We were intrigued by this idea of having a story. We wondered how far back our story would go. Would we make our foolish decision to volunteer for Pharaoh part of the story? Would the Joseph story become part of ours?

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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