Monday, March 29, 2010

Let's Free Ourselves

It's 2:00 am, and I am sitting down to write a blog post that most people probably won't read. The quality of this post may or may not reflect my four hours of sleep last night, as well as my periodic pilgrimages to the kitchen to take the cookies out, or change the trays because the pesach oven burns everything on the bottom tray. It may also reflect my nervousness about the taste of non-gebrokts chocolate cookies with no vanilla sugar, no baking powder, no margarine, no confectioner's sugar and not much of anything.

I want to try to convey the most incredible shiur I heard, but it was long and complex, and we have already established that my lack of sleep may be impacting my cognitive ability to make any sense, so I will try to bring out an important point, and hope that it makes sense.

Rabbi Ari Kahn asks a question on the story of the night that the yidden went out of Egypt. In the beginning of the perek, when Hashem instructs the Jews to take a sheep and tie it up, etc, it says in the pasuk, when describing the ritual, "Al matzos u'mororim ye'ochluhu" - You should eat your karban pesach with matzah and maror.

In the Hagaddah, when it says the three main aspects of the seder - pesach, matzah, maror - It says, matzah, al shum mah? Why do we eat the matzah? It goes on to say that the reason for the matzah is that the Jews went out of Egypt so quickly that they didn't have time for their bread to rise. But how does this fit in with the above paragraph, where Hashem instructed the jews, two weeks prior to the actual exodus, that they should eat the karbon pesach with matzah and maror - the night before they actually left Egypt!

Another question is asked. Why did the Jews eat the maror? Isn't that to remember the bitterness of our enslavement in Egypt? And finally, why did Hashem give the Jews the commandment of rosh chodesh before they left Egypt, not wait until they reached har sinai?

The answer, as Rabbi Kahn explains, is that with the commandments of rosh chodesh and taking the sheep for the korban pesach, Hashem was psychologically redeeming the Jews. A slave has no concept of time, his time belongs to his master and means nothing to him. And with the mitzvah of rosh chodesh Hashem was giving the yidden back the concept of time. Additionally, taking the sheep and tying it up for slaughter, while probably very dangerous (think burning a life size edifice of Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama in the middle of Harlem...) it was incredibly liberating. The Jews were informing the Egyptians that they were no longer afraid of them, no longer cared who they worshiped, no longer worried about the Egyptian view of them.

The night before the Jews left egypt, they were actually still slaves, but they sat down to eat their karban pesach with matzah, to commemorate the speed with which G-d had taken them out. But it seems that they are commemorating nothing! They didn't even leave yet! In truth, they had a lot to commemorate. They were so sure that Hashem would take them out of Egypt, they didn't need to see it, they already celebrated the miracle, the speed with which the miracle took place.

And the moror? Why did they need to eat the maror? Simply, because they were so sure of their eminent freedom, so freed- in their minds- that they needed the maror to remind them of what slavery felt like.

Because of their certainty that G-d would free them, they actually were free. That night, when they ate the roasted lamb together with matzah and maror, they actually tasted the redemption. And that is the essence of pesach. If we could only really learn to believe that G-d will bring our redemption, if we could believe it with our full hearts, then we would no longer be enslaved to galus. We would, like the Jews sitting in slavery in Egypt, taste the redemption. We would be free.

Have a chag kasher v'sameach. This yom tov, let's all try to free ourselves!


G6 said...

Thanks for this.
Chag Kasher V'sameach to you and yours.

Shades of Grey said...

thank you for sharing! You present some very interesting ideas that I hadn't heard before... Have a chag kasher v'sameach!

itsagift said...

Wow, that is so beautiful! Thanks for taking the time (at 2am no less) to type that up for my (?) reading pleasure! Soul food...yuuuum!

May we be zoche to feel and taste that freedom!!

And yes, there are some people who make time to read your blog posts, even on erev yom tov!