Thursday, April 10, 2014

Shabbos HaGadol!...Pesach!!!

Rav Kanievsky said in the name of Rav Elyashiv that this Shabbos we should wish eachother "good Shabbos Hagadol".

When the world was created,  each day had a pair except for Shabbos.  Hashem said to Shabbos 'your pair will be Bnei Yisrael'.  On Shabbos Hagadol we took the step (blood on the doorposts) to become a nation and thereby became a pair to Shabbos. (Divrei Chaim)

Sfat Emet states that this is a supernatural Shabbos and at candle lighting we should take on a small commitment toward growth. (Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi parsha sheets)

We have been cleaning our external environment until now with the intention of cleaning our internal self of any chometz.

Many of us took on something small already. 
(Rabbi Nivin Chaburah) 
----Perhaps add one small thing to that commitment or re-commit to it when lighting the candles.

Bottom line- it's the ratzon to want to rid ourselves of the chometz that will bring us close to Hashem. (Alei Shur)

Remember, we take one small step and Hashem does the results.

We all want a beautiful - connected to Hashem- full of emunah- seder.   We all want the geulah.  

Why does it feel so far, beyond our grasp?

Believe me, I think about this a lot.  I see many of us are in pain and in extremely difficult situations.  Even those of us who are not in times of tzaros feel pain!

From reading and listening to shiurim about Pesach, it has become increasingly clear to me that the ball is in our court.  It is up to us to take that one small step that will bring the geulah.

First, each of us must know how much Hashem loves every single one of us- no matter what mistakes were made in the past.  It is the now, this moment, that exists.  (Rav Moshe Weinberger)

-----take the list of things that are causing you to feel removed from Hashem and place it in the fire during biur chometz. (Rabbi Nivin, Rabbanit Yemima)

If you don't love yourself yet and see the real you, a pure shining neshama contained in a special kli, your body, then add that to the paper and burn it.  (Label that lack of self awareness;)

Second, the seder!  We each have a different vision of how we want to experience our seder.  However, let's remove all the outer layers and go to the foundation: EMUNAH.  The bottom line is that all the times we feel far from Hashem, it is from a lack of emunah.  

The seder is the antidote.  We are supposed to act as if we are being redeemed all over again. 

Zohar: Matzoh is the food of healing - it's vitamins that fill us with emunah. Matzoh has the power to erase any doubts(Rav Aharon Weinberg, nesivos;pesach)

It is a night of above nature nissim.  We are above malachim on this night! It is the Rosh Hashana for emunah! Avnei Nezer says that if a person has the teshuka (desire) to change on this night, Hashem makes it happen. (Rav Aharon weinberg)

Sfat Emet says in the name of Maharal "anyone who acts k'ilu- as though- on this night will have his/her 'as though' become their reality" (Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi)

----have a clear idea of what your 'as though' looks like =something that you want to be redeemed that you can feel and sense Hashem with deep emunah.

Our greatest feelings of pleasure come from this sensation of emunah coursing through our souls and body, unifying the two to serve Hashem and thereby, express our love back to Him, as a refelction of His love for us.

If you have more time- see the story below that really shows this idea! 

Chag Kasher Vesameach
Love, aviva rus

Lonely; Yet, Not Alone
His older brother was already married and his father who was recovering from heart surgery was unable to help. That left only Yitzchok and his mother to ‘make Pesach’.
For the Sedarim, they would be walking about a half a mile to a nearby relative.
As Yitzchok and his mother cleaned and talked, she told him stories of her mother and how they made Pesach in the Bronx in the 1930s.
At that time, the Bronx was known as the “Jewish Borough” with almost 50% of the total population Jewish.
Yitzchok could listen for hours as his mother regaled him with stories of Bubby’s homemade “chrain” and how she her knaidlach (matzo balls) were known along the entire Grand Concourse!
Yitzchok and his mother finished cleaning the house a few hours before Bedikas Chometz and after a thorough searching of the home; he went to sleep with thoughts of how nice the Sedarim will be in the company of friends and family.
However, as Yitzchok woke on Erev Pesach he was shocked to discover that as he soundly slept, Hashem had been busy at work. As he opened the door to head to Shul the ground was already covered in snow and more was coming.
A rare Erev Pesach storm had blanketed the entire New York area in snow.
It would be too much to for Yitzchok’s father to walk and they would be forced to having the Seder at home.
Quickly Yitzchok and his mother took to preparing foods for the “unplanned” Seder.
That night as he returned from Shul he looked at his parents and felt somewhat alone.
There was only the three of them.
He recalled years past when his father was healthier and his mother was younger and twenty or more people crowded around Seder table.
The three of them began the Seder attempting to be joyous as they huddled together in the cold snowy night. However, just as Maggid began, Yitzchok’s father who was still fragile from his surgery began to fade and quietly retired for the night struggling to make his way upstairs to his bedroom.
That left just two; Yitzchok and his mother.
Yitzchok and his mother continued; however, as they neared Dayeinu, the hectic effects of the last few weeks took their toll and his mother’s eyes began to close. His mother attempted to continue, however, Yitzchok saw the exhaustion in her eyes and insisted that she too retire for the night.
Suddenly the threesome had turned into a solo performance; for now there was just one.
Images of Sedarim of years gone by danced in Yitzchok’s head; he recalled his father, young and strong leading the Seder and the lively discussion which followed. He saw his mother and his departed Bubby checking on the knaidlach as the Seder progressed; laughing together in the kitchen.
He recalled how his father would passionately defend Torah Jewry in the face of criticism from relatives who had strayed from the path; and how it was done with love and compassion.
However, now he was alone and as he sat at the table he felt a tear of sadness slipping down his cheek.
He no longer needed salt water to dip; his cheeks were wet with his own tears.
He pushed himself to continue the Seder, to delve into the deeper meaning of the text; however, he felt sad and alone.  
However, he soon reminded himself that we are not here to dwell on the ‘hand of cards’ we wished we were ‘dealt’; rather, we are here to make the most of the ‘hand of cards’ we have in front of us.
And therefore, although alone, he continued to read and to sing as if he were surrounded by a crowd of guests.
Suddenly he felt that although he was alone, he was not lonely.
And although no one else was in the room, he was not abandoned.
A feeling of quiet solace and comfort filled him.
Was it the realization that despite the fact that he was alone, he had much to be thankful for; his parents were safe and warm and resting and there was peace in the house?
Or perhaps it was something more sublime and inexplicable?
Perhaps it was his sudden epiphany that no matter where you are and no matter who you are, there is what to accomplish and ‘with whom’ to bond?
Whatever the reason, he continued to sing; at first hesitantly and then with excitement and joy and he sang his way through the rest of the Seder.
And as he finished Chad Gadya he was filled with a special contentment which he never felt before.
As he drifted off to sleep that night there was a feeling of solace and comfort he had never quite felt before.
Many Pesachs have passed since that solitary spiritual night decades ago.
Today Yitzchok leads the Seder surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren and many guests.
And although I hope to never have another ‘solo Seder’ again; as I recall that snowy night in Brooklyn over thirty years ago surrounded by me, myself and He who is always there, a warm and nostalgic  tear gently falls down my face.
“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel
Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi, Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ

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