Food For the Soul
Did you know?
The first Passover celebration in the Bible is found in Genesis Chapter 18, where we read how Abraham and Sarah were visited by angels who informed them that they would bear a son one year later. Tradition records that the visit (and Isaac’s birth) was on Passover. This is not stated explicitly, but the astute reader will note that Abraham instructs Sarah to knead some cakes (ugot) for their guests. This same term is used regarding the Passover matzah that their descendants would eat every year on Passover. Thus, the conclusion is reached that it must have been Passover.
The First Mandated Passover
Isaac’s descendants (by then known as the People of Israel) eventually wound up in Egypt, where they were enslaved. The time then came and G-d decided to free them from their cruel taskmasters and take them back to the land that He had promised them so many years before. He instructed Moses and Aaron to repeatedly ask Pharaoh to release the people of Israel; each time Pharaoh refused, another plague was brought upon the Egyptians: blood, frogs, lice etc.
Finally, as G-d was about to bring the final plague—the death of the firstborn son—He instructed Moses to tell the people of Israel to prepare by bringing a sheep into their homes. On the night that He was about to bring death upon the Egyptians, the Israelites slaughtered the lambs and ate them with unleavened bread (matzah) and bitter herbs (maror).
They were also instructed to take the blood of the lamb and smear it on their doorposts, a sign to G-d that this was an Israelite home, to be passed over, when death was visited upon the firstborns in all other homes. This is what gave the Passover sacrifice (and holiday) its name. In the original Hebrew, the word is Pesach.
At that same time, G-d also instructed them to observe the Passover celebration every year on the anniversary of their Exodus: at the full moon of the first month of spring (Abib).
From an article by Rabbi Menachem Posner
For information about Passover visit Chabad.org.
Shabbat and Passover Candle Lighting
Friday, April 15, 2022 (14 Nissan, 5782): Light Shabbat/Holiday candles at 7:22 PM
Saturday, April 16, 2022 (15 Nissan, 5782): Light Holiday candles after 8:29 PM from a pre-existing flame.
Thursday, April 21, 2022 (20 Nissan, 5782): Light Holiday candles at 7:30 PM
Friday, April 22, 2022 (21 Nissan, 5782): Light Shabbat/Holiday candles at 7:32 from a pre-existing flame.
Saturday, April 23, 2022 (22 Nissan, 5782): Shabbat/Holiday ends at 8:39 PM
Caution: Shabbat candles must be lit before sunset. It’s a desecration of the Shabbat to light candles after sunset. Shabbat candle lighting times are 18 minutes before sunset, however please allow yourself enough time to perform this time-bound mitzvah at the designated time; do not wait until the last minute.
Mind Over Matter
The Power of a Blessing
“Passover is a time of favor for the childless,” said Rabbi Yosef (son of the great Rabbi Shabtai) who lived in Rascov, a small community in what is now known as Tansnistria (located on the border of Ukraine and the river of Dniester). “Sarah, our matriarch, was barren, and our sages say that she had no uterus. Yet, Sarah gave birth on Passover, exactly one year after receiving news that she would bear a son. This is a time for mercy for those in need of children.” As he finished speaking, Rabbi Yosef turned to a woman who had begged him to bless her so that she would have a child. “I promise that you’ll be hugging your son next year.” Indeed, the following year, the tzaddik’s blessing came true.
From an article by Asharon Baltazar
The Bread of Affliction
Consideration of our present condition, noting the ever-increasing darkness and troubles of the galut (exile) of each day seeming worse than the preceding one, may lead to becoming despondent and to lose faith, Heaven forbid. That is why we begin the Hagadah (the recitation of the story of the exodus) with the paragraph “This is the bread of affliction…,” in which we state: “Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and celebrate Pesach…” By reciting this, we are not only inviting strangers, but also addressing ourselves. The Almighty, as it were, begs each one of us to sense our state of “hunger” and “need” in the great darkness surrounding us, and to ask G-d for relief. In turn, G-d assures us that He will then provide us not only with the substance to “eat” but also the possibility to “celebrate Pesach,” thus to be led (as stated in the conclusion of that paragraph) to the “Land of Israel” and to become truly “free people”-very speedily indeed!
From an article by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet
Have I Got A Story
18 Year Old Matzah
The Communists rose to power when Naphtali was young. His father didn’t like the smell of it all, and told Naphtali to become a shochet – to master the intricate, exacting practice of kosher ritual slaughter. The training takes time and the pay is lousy. “Become a shochet,” said Naphtali’s father. “If you’ll be a shochet, you’ll stay a Jew.”
Naphtali the Shochet and his wife raised their children under the Soviets. By the early 1950s, though, the entire family had managed to escape, most of them with false passports. Except for their grown son, Meir, and his growing family.
Their other son, Berel, had escaped together with Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s mother, posing as her son. Upon arrival in New York, Berel became a diamond cutter, and (the gray Soviets’ silver-lining) maintained his “filial” status with Rebbetzin Chana and developed a warm relationship with her son, the Rebbe of Lubavitch. Naphtali and his wife, together with their daughter, settled in Montreal. Their son Dovid was in Antwerp. Naphtali was happy, but for Meir’s being held by the Soviets.
There is a custom to receive matzah from one’s Rebbe before Passover. Naturally, Berel would be doing so.
“When you receive matzah from the Rebbe,” Naphtali told his son Berel, “mention to him your brother Meir.”
“But do not ask for just a brachah, a blessing,” continued Naphtali. “Ask for a havtachah – an assurance – that my Meir will make it out alive.”
Berel never pushed anyone into doing something they did not want to do. And a chassid does not demand of his Rebbe. But Berel never refused his father. The Rebbe handed matzah to Berel. Berel mentioned his brother Meir and the Rebbe gave his brachah. “My father requests your assurance that Meir will come out,” Berel responded. The Rebbe’s face grew dark and his hand shook. “Shlep mir nisht beim tzung (Don’t wrench words out of me that I cannot say)!” the Rebbe answered with rare sting, and added, “My father-in-law [the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe] accomplished greater things than this.”
Berel saw tears begin to fall from the Rebbe’s eyes. The Rebbe gave Berel another piece of matzah. “You will give this to your brother.”
“My brother Dovid in Belgium?” Berel asked. “No. Meir. Not necessarily in America, but somewhere close by.”
A few years later, the family got word that Meir had plans to spirit his family across the border with forged passports. He failed. More years passed. Berel held the matzah for his brother. Eighteen years he held onto that matzah. Matzah, which the Kabbalah calls the “Bread of Faith.”
Then they heard the news. Meir is free! With his wife! With his sons! With his daughter! They received visas to Canada (“not necessarily America, but close by…”) and Berel got himself to Montreal just as fast as he could. Berel hadn’t seen his brother in over twenty years. He ran towards his brother. His brother ran towards him. He gave his brother the piece of matzah. And then they fell into each other’s arms.
Berel’s story explains Jacob. Jacob mourned his lost son Joseph as dead for over twenty-two years. He finally saw him – a miracle! – but Jacob did not kiss him; he was saying the Shema… a jaw-dropping breach of human emotion. Berel showed me, on the night I heard the story as told by his son, that a moment of faith does not separate between long-lost loves. It holds them together.
Rabbi Shimon Posner