Food For the Soul
This year Pesach (Passover) is from April 15 to April 23, 2022
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman writes: “In each one of us there is an Egypt and a Pharaoh and a Moses and Freedom in a Promised Land. And every point in time is an opportunity for another Exodus.
Egypt is a place that chains you to who you are, constraining you from growth and change. And Pharaoh is that voice inside that mocks your gambit to escape, saying, How could you attempt being today something you were not yesterday? Aren’t you good enough just as you are? Don’t you know who you are?
Moses is the liberator, the infinite force deep within, an impetuous and all-powerful drive to break out from any bondage, to always transcend, to connect with that which has no bounds.
But Freedom and the Promised Land are not static elements that lie in wait. They are your own achievements which you may create at any moment, in any thing that you do, simply by breaking free from whoever you were the day before.
Together, we can all experience the miracle of Passover!
MADA needs as much help as possible to complete our Passover services, including: 10 in-person community celebratory Seders across the city each night; over 5000 Passover meal boxes and Seders-in-a-Box and hundreds of Holiday Food Ingredient boxes going to the less fortunate in our community. For information about MADA’s Passover services or to volunteer visit madacenter.com
War of Egyptian Firstborn (1313 BCE)
On the Shabbat before the Exodus–Nissan 10th on that year–the first-born of Egypt, who occupied the senior positions in the priesthood and government, fought a bloody battle with Pharaoh’s troops, in an effort to secure the release of the Israelites and prevent the Plague of the Firstborn. This “great miracle” is commemorated each year on the Shabbat before Passover, which is therefore called Shabbat HaGadol, “The Great Shabbat.” (This is one of the rare instances in which a commemorative date in the Jewish calendar is set by the day of the week rather than the day of the month.)
Mind Over Matter
The Power of the Spoken Word
The Parshah Metzora speaks of the affliction known as tzara’at. The commentators explain that tzara’at was a punishment for the transgression of speaking lashon hara. Lashon hara, which translated literally means “the evil tongue” or “evil speech,” includes slander, gossip and rumors, among other things. Talmud relates in the name of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani: “Why is the evil tongue called a thrice-slaying tongue? Because it kills three people: the person speaking, the person spoken to, and the person being spoken about.” It may not kill them physically, but it is character assassination. Maimonides adds a further dimension: sometimes a person may say something that is not quite slander or gossip. Yet, as his statement passes from person to person, it eventually does cause harm, trouble, fright or hurt to the party being spoken about.
We speak thousands of words every day. Words have enormous power. May we merit to use them only for good purposes.
From an article by Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg
“Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat…”
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
Clouds, Curses and Concealed Compassion
Does every cloud really have a silver lining? Is there a blessing in disguise inside every curse? Well, admittedly, it isn’t always so easy to discern, but we most certainly do believe in the concept.
The Parshah Metzora deals with the purification of those afflicted by the strange leprosy-like malady known as tzara’as (a word uncannily similar to tzores!) The Parshah recounts different types of tzara’as manifestations—on a person’s body, in his clothes or even in the walls of his house. In the latter case, if after the necessary quarantine period the stain had still not receded, the stones of the affected wall would have to be removed and replaced with new ones.
Now imagine the walls of your house being demolished. Is that a blessing or a curse? No doubt, the homeowner in question would not feel himself particularly blessed. But, according to our sages, the case was often different for the Israelites living in the Holy Land. The previous Canaanite inhabitants of the land would bury their treasures inside the very walls of their homes. The only way an Israelite would ever discover those hidden valuables was if the stones of the house would be removed. When this happened, it didn’t take long for the poor unfortunate tzara’as-afflicted homeowner to be transformed into the wealthy heir of a newfound fortune. Suddenly his dark cloud was filled with linings of silver, gold and all kinds of precious objects. For him, in a moment, the curse became blessing.
Some time ago, a friend’s business went into liquidation. Naturally, he was absolutely devastated. After a while he opened a new business which, thank G-d, prospered. He later confessed to me that in retrospect he was able to see how the earlier bankruptcy was truly a blessing. I still remember his words: “Before we were working for the banks; now we are working for our families.”
A woman in my congregation was suffering from heart disease, and the doctors said she needed bypass surgery. But she also had other medical complications which made a heart operation too dangerous to contemplate. Her quality of life was very poor. If she went for a walk, she would have to stop and rest every few minutes. Then, one day, she suffered a heart attack. She was rushed to the hospital and the doctors said her only chance of survival was an emergency bypass operation. There was a 50/50 chance of success, but if they didn’t do it she had no chance at all. They performed the surgery and, thank G-d, she made a full recovery, enjoying many years of greatly improved quality of life with nachas from children and grandchildren. For years she would joke, “Thank G-d I had a heart attack. I got my bypass!” It was no joke.
It would be naïve to suggest that it always works out this way. Life isn’t so simple, and sometimes it takes much longer to see the good that is hidden in the traumas and difficulties of life. But we will continue to believe that G-d is good, that He really does want the best for us, and that one day, with hindsight, we will see how each of our frustrations did somehow serve us well in the long term.
All of us will at one time or another experience disappointments in life. The challenge is to learn from those disappointments and grow from them. Who knows if the wiser, more sensitive person we become is not the silver lining itself?
In general, there are two qualities which form a powerful combination to help us appreciate that there is a hidden goodness inside every misfortune: faith and patience. With faith that there is a higher, better purpose to life, and with patience to bide our time for its revelation, we will be able to persevere and weather the crises of life.
Please G-d, may we all find our silver linings soon.
Rabbi Yossy Goldman