Posts Tagged ‘Seder’

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…

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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15
Jul

Elijah’s Vision

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“And He said, ‘Go forth and stand on the mountain before God; and behold! God is passing, and a great, powerful wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the God; but the God was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but God was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; but God was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”

“And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said: ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’ (I Kings 19:11-13)”

The message of the “still small voice,” is consistent with the lesson that began with Elijah’s first meal, something can come form nothing, and the second meal that nourished him for forty day and forty night journey; a small thing, even a small accomplishment can last. Elijah may see himself as a failure; a nothing, but something can come even from nothing. Elijah may view all his efforts as no more than a whisper in the battle for Israel’s soul, but God is in the “still small voice.”

Before Elijah could learn the lesson of the still small voice, he had to first learn that God was not in the powerful wind, He was not in the earthquake, and not in the fire. Elijah’s mission was not to be as powerful as the splitting of the Sea, affected through the wind, not as the great miracle of the earth swallowing Korach, and not even in the fire he brought down from heaven at Mount Carmel. Change brought about by a miracle will not last; people will not find God in the big productions.

However, when we carefully read the text, we find that the order spoken by God is not the order of the events! When God speak, He says, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before God,” and after Elijah goes forth and stands on the mountain, “Behold! God is passing.” Yet the wind began to blow before Elijah could go forth. The earthquake shook the earth, and the fire burned, and Elijah still did not go forth and stand. He does nothing. “When Elijah heard it,” the still small voice, “he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave.” He did not emulate Moshe who covered his face at the Burning Bush, or Moshe whose face was covered by God’s Hand when he stood in the same cave, when he heard the wind, felt the earthquake, and saw the fire. He covered his face only when he heard the still small voice. Although God’s words read as if He is describing what will happen, they happen as He speaks. The wind blows, the earth shakes, the fire burns, before Elijah can go forth and stand on the mountain. Elijah experiences the power of God’s words, and this is the still small voice that he heard.

He wrapped himself in his mantle as we wrap ourselves in a Tallit, and went out to stand on the mountain to find God, which he does, in God’s question: “Why are you here, Elijah?” Do you still want to shake the world? Do you still burn with the same fiery jealousy? Have you learned the lesson of this vision and experience? If you have not changed, Elijah, from this incredible vision, can you expect Israel to change because of your Hollywood productions?

“And he said, ‘I have been exceedingly zealous/jealous for God, Power of Legions, for the Children of Israel have abandoned Your covenant; they have razed Your altars; they have killed Your prophets with the sword, so that I remain, by myself, and they seek my soul to take her‘ (I Kings 19:14).” The same words. The same answer as before his vision. “I have not changed.”

Elijah now understands that challenge of change, and is prepared to live as a still small voice, step by step preparing Israel for the future.

This is the Elijah who comes to a Brit Milah; This is only a step forward; it is not the end, but the beginning.

This is the Elijah who appears at the Seder: Don’t expect wind, earthquakes, or fire, from this experience. It will not be life changing unless you stop and listen to the still small voice.

This is the Elijah we remember as we recite Havdalah and step out of the cave back into the world, ready to take small steps forward, one after the other, each reflecting the still small voice we can hear if only we stop seeking powerful winds, earthquakes and fires to be inspired to grow in our service of God.

The same still small voice we can hear when we cover our faces and recite the Shema: Listen! Listen for the still small voice.

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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17
Apr

Seder Hallel: Rav Kook: Paragraph Eight

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“From the straits did I call upon God; God answered me with expansiveness.” There are many things that can inhibit a prayer, however one who imagines that he has mastered any possible limitations, can grasp with a mighty hand onto the very idea of prayer, and call out to God at every moment, and all possible limitations will automatically disappear.

At that point the light of prayer that is expressed by this person is able to rise with great strength and power to the Highest Worlds, and clear out paths of prayer for all who are praying, even those who feel limited. It is specifically of such a person that we recite this verse,“From the straits did I call upon God; God answered me with expansiveness.” (Orot HaTeshuvah, 15:8)

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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17
Apr

Seder Hallel: Sha’ar HaRachamim: Paragraph Eight Part Two

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“It is better to take refuge in God than to rely on man.” I heard from my Rebbi, the Gra, an explanation about the difference between “taking refuge,” and “trust.” Trust describes relying on a specific thing that was promised. Taking refuge describes something similar to finding refuge under the shade of a tree or a wall; there is no specific promise of safety, but the person does feel safe and comfortable there. Therefore when the verse teaches that it is better to “take refuge in God,” it is describing a person who runs to God for safety and security even when there is no specific promise. He has achieved such a level of closeness with his Creator, that he feels safe simply running to under His Wings. (Sha’ar HaRachamim/Maggid Tzedek)

This is this stage we have reached at this point of the Seder: we are ready to move ahead into the future with this sense of God’s protection even if He has not made any specific promises. This paragraph is a song that expresses this safety we feel under His Wings.

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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17
Apr

Seder Hallel: Sha’ar HaRachamim: Paragraph Eight Part One

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Give thanks to God for He is good; His kindness endures forever!” “From the straits did I call upon God; God answered me with expansiveness.” We can better understand these verses by looking to another, “Should you set out your cry? Not in their diversity (Job 36:19)!” Our sages (Sanhedrin 44b) derived from this verse that a person should pray before troubles occur. When a person prepares his cry when he is not yet suffering, not yet in trouble, he possesses all of his strength, and is therefore able to present a far more powerful prayer. However, even one who waits until he is suffering, “from the straits did I call upon God,” can still be assured that, “God answered me with expansiveness.” (Sha’ar HaRachamim/Maggid Tzedek)

Far too many people take from the Seder experience the lesson that they can cry out to God when ever they are in trouble and be answered. Although this is definitely true, the real lesson we must learn is to cry out to God with all of our strength, before we are in trouble. We therefore conclude the Hallel with this paragraph as a song and prayer that God will protect us in the future from any potential trouble. This is a paragraph of confidence. This is a paragraph of strength. This is a paragraph of empowerment. This is the only proper conclusion to the Hallel.

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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17
Apr

Seder Hallel: Sha’ar HaRachamim: Paragraph Five

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Return, my soul, to your rest; for God has been kind to you.” We are making a promise to our soul that it can return to its source after death in safety and security because, “God has been kind to you,” meaning any suffering of the soul was only for the purpose of allowing it to return to its proper place, “to your rest.” (Sha’ar HaRachamim/Maggid Tzedek)

At this point of the Seder we have reviewed so much of our history with all of its ups and downs that we know that God has been guiding us throughout our history, and that all our suffering has only served to raise us to ever greater heights. It is those heights that we celebrate in this paragraph of the Hallel.

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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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17
Apr

Nishmat: “Freedom To” or “Freedom From”

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Power aims

at Freedom To;

finds itself

on a collision course

with all the other Freedoms To

that inhabit gods and men and beast;

storm and drought and pestilence;

sickness, old age and death.

Wisdom aims

for Freedom From

discovers that all the competing Freedom To’s

struggle within the stadium of life

and win and lose and win and lose

and lose at last at the gates

of old age and death.

Discovers that he who enters not

the arena of the breath

suffers no loss and dies no death.

Brian Taylor

Taylor’s poem is an easier read than Sir Isaiah Berlin’s “Positive and Negative Liberty,” but still not as powerful as the Haggadah. Dayeinu concludes with, “And built for us the House of Choice, to atone for all our sins,” or, “Freedom From” our mistakes.

However, Pesach Freedom, contrary to the poem, is an expression of Power – Yad haChazakah – Powerful Hand of God –  guided by Wisdom. We are offered Free Choice – “Freedom To” choose with the gift of “Freedom From,” the inevitable mistakes we will make with our free choice.

We acknowledge that our “Freedom From” and “Freedom To” obligate us: “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 (Hallel).”

Our obligation: To rejoice in both freedoms; to sing, and to take full advantage. There is an obligation that comes with freedom; to guide the Power with Wisdom:  The message of “Nishmat kol chai.”

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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17
Apr

Seder Hallel: Sha’ar HaRachamim: Paragraph Two

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“When Israel went out of Egypt,” referring to those who refused to change their names (Vayikra Rabbah 32:5). “The house of Jacob from a people who spoke a foreign language,” referring to those who may have changed their names but did not lose their language. At that point, “Judah became His sanctuary,” meaning that we were drawn to God’s holiness, “Israel His dominion,” that we merited through our connection to God, the Ultimate Ruler, to acquire the mastery to affect all of creation. “The righteous man rules through fear of the Lord (II Samuel 23:3),” the Holy One, Blessed is He, said, “I rule over the world, and who rules over Me? The righteous man who rules over himself.” (Yalkut Shimoni) (Sha’ar HaRachamim/Maggid Tzedek)

We have at this time of the Seder connected to our identity, our names, and have joined in a conversation of the ages, our language. This allows us to attach to God’s holiness, and used it to master ourselves, and through that self-mastery, but come active participants in God’s creation; as the midrash teaches, “Who rules over Me?”

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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