Wednesday, December 12, 2012
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Thursday, April 12, 2012
Why would Hashem punish the Egyptians by splitting the sea ? He has already shown them His mastery over water in the first makka when He turned their
Water is that with which Hashem gives life. For that reason Torah is compared to water. Dry land, on the other hand, is, well … dry. We can thusly compare the sea as being the receptacle for Hashem's midda of chessed while on land his midda of din or strict justice prevails.
When Pharaoh catches up to the fleeing Jews at Pi HaChiroth, he is convinced that now he will destroy them. How could Pharaoh be convinced of this ? Has he forgotten the past year, when ten plagues decimated his country and shattered his defenses ? Pharaoh remembered these things all too well. He was just erroneously convinced that this was the manifestation of Hashem's will on land. With the attribute of justice, Hashem dealt harshly with the Egyptians and trounced them in a nightmarish year. But, on the sea, with the attribute of loving kindness playing center stage, Pharaoh was sure that he could beat Hashem and His Jews, too.
Pharaoh was a fool.
And to emphasize that Hashem's plan is unfathomable by the human mind, Hashem saves the Jews by bringing them into the heart of the sea, and saves them by opening it and having dry land in middle! It is thusly not kindness (water) which saves the Jews, but rather justice (land). And the Egyptians aren't punished by justice, as we would expect, but rather by a flooding of kindness!
How does this shape our focus for the end of Pesach ? By offering Hashem our praise. When the Jews sang the shira at the edge of the
May we, at the conclusion of our Pesach, merit seeing this Divine dominion, unhampered and unconstrained by any regulations of the mundane. And let our praise of this incredible glory reflect this majestic fact.
Friday, April 06, 2012
One of the classic ploys of the Yetzer hora is impulsiveness, or the ability or inclination to perform an action quickly and without too much (or any) thought. It is both a tool to perform negative actions that we would usually avoid ("Oh, I can't believe I just said that …") and a deficiency in its own right.
Then why does it seem that Pesach is all about this same trait ?
Because it is.
What makes impulsivity bad is the absence of a rational thought process. While this is usually utilized for bad actions, there is no reason why we can't hijack this for good.
In the same way that an impulsively quick action can drop you (or your actions, or your speech, etc' …) to a pitifully low level in your avodas Hashem – the same kind of action can turn the tables!
Pesach is when Hashem did not examine our overall status in order to redeem us from bondage. It is a time when Hashem asked us to do the impossible (taking the sheep, god of the Egyptians in total and complete defiance) and without thinking too long about the possible ramifications … we did it ! We skipped the part of out decision making process that would have caused us to doubt fulfilling Hashem's command. G-d, in turn, skipped our houses and children when He swept through
This Pesach, skip something. At the seder, or in teffila, get into it! Skip the self consciousness, skip the doubts, and have an incredible, meaningful Pesach!
Friday, March 30, 2012
The shabbos before Pesach is known as shabbos hagadol, or the 'great' shabbos.
What is so "great" about this shabbos ?
It is said that shabbos is actually above time and that the world was created for the short duration of six days. On shabbos, all creation is recharged, getting it set for another week. Shabbos, however, is outside of this calculation and exists in a sublime, timeless nature. Thusly, shabbos has the unique double distinction of being both the culmination of the preceding week and the foundation of the following week.
Since shabbos serves as the flashpoint of recreation, it must follow that everything which is needed for that week will also be created on shabbos.
Now we understand what is so "great" about shabbos haGadol – on shabbos hagadol the act of recreation is greater than other times since it needs to also include the incredible holiday of Pesach.
The first night of Pesach is known as 'leil shimurim' a night that we are watched over. On that night the level of Hashgacha pratis or personal divine guidance and care is at its highest point of the year. On that night Hashem personally 'passed over' each one of our houses in dealing destruction upon the Egyptians – He even struck down any Egyptians who may have been hiding in our very own homes ! Divine involvement on such an intense, personal level, is sure to leave a mark in time – as it did on seder night.
So this shabbos, as we sing testimony to Hashem's (re)creation of the world and palpably feel the rejuvenation of all that surrounds us – know that this shabbos is truly greater than others, it is the shabbos where the divine presence descends into our world in greater force than any other time during the year. And since seder night is a full week away, we have this extra hasgacha for a full eight days. That's pretty great!
With Hashem's guiding hand ever closer, we must ask ourselves, what are we going to do with such an amazing opportunity ?