Thursday, March 19, 2009

Looking out for number one



When the haggaddah says that if Hashem had not redeemed us from Pharaoh's clutches then we would surely be enslaved there until today.


What does this mean ?! That in 2009 we would still be there ?


It is referring to what the redemption is all about – freeing ourselves not just from the land of Mitzrayim – but also from the tumah of mitzrayim. We would all still be enslaved to the ideology of Pharaoh in Egypt – namely self worship.


When and how are we guilty of this heinous sin of self worship ? Perhaps more frequently than we know.


What is our number one priority ? Self or Hashem ? Is doing mitzvos contingent on how I feel or what my mood is ?


Since this is such a slippery pit of self aggrandizement – we need constant salvation from it. So every year, no matter how wise, or how knowledgeable we are – we still repeat the story and miracles of the redemption from Egypt – because it is precisely this reminder that will serve as our booster shot – against the terrible infection of self worship.


May it be Hashem's will, that just as we were redeemed from bondage in Nissan – so too may we be redeemed again, and celebrate this Pesach in the hills of Yerushalayim, in the courtyard of the rebuilt temple, amen.

Hatzlacha !!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Are clothes more than just frostbite prevention ?

"ועשית בגדי קדש לאהרן אחיך לכבוד ולתפארת"

[שמות כח:ב]

"And you shall make Holy Garments for Aharon, your brother, for honor and splendor"

[Shemos 28:2]

These garments played two contradictory roles in the upcoming days. On shabbos we read how they represented the weighty and honored position of being the chief representative of the Jewish nation in their mission of attaining closeness to G-d in holiness and purity. And on purim we will read how Achashverosh wore them at his banquet of revelry to demonstrate his supremacy over the fallen Jewish nation.

A greater contrast could hardly be imagined.

Aharon, paragon of humility, actually had to be persuaded to wear the holy garments for he was wary of becoming entranced by the glitter and succumbing to the pull of haughtiness. Achashverosh, on the other hand, embraces this agenda heartily and goes on a campaign of self aggrandizement that begins when he copies the legendary throne of Shlomo Hamelech and pinnacles at his impersonation of the kohen gadol.

So do clothes make the man ? Certainly not. Rather, man either fills the shoes he's given to wear – or slides around in them looking all the more ridiculous for his attempts at impersonation.

Let us strive to be worthy carriers of our clothing – to truly embody the ideals of the bnei torah that we appear to be. And in this zchus may we merit to once again, see the Kohein Gadol in his splendor in the rebuilt Beis HaMikdash, Amen.

Hatzlacha !!