Vayikra (Leviticus 1-5 )
GOOD MORNING! The Seders are Wednesday night, April 8th and Thursday night, April 9th.
Q & A: WHAT IS PESACH (PASSOVER) AND
HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?
There are five mitzvot (commandments) for the Passover Seder, two from the Torah and three from our Sages. The two mitzvot from the Torah are to eat matza ("In the evening you shall eat unleavened bread" - Exodus 12:18) and to tell the story of our exodus from Egypt ("And you shall relate to your son [the story of the exodus] on this day" - Exodus 13:9). The rabbis added the mitzvot of drinking the four cups of wine, eating marror (bitter herbs) and reciting Hallel (Psalms of praise for the Almighty). During the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, there were 16 additional mitzvot associated with the Pesach offering.
All of these commandments are to help us re-experience the Exodus and to feel and strengthen our sense of freedom. The mitzvot are to experience either the affliction or the redemption.
The matza is called "lechem ani" - the bread of the poor man and "lechem oni" - the bread of affliction. In a play on pronunciation, the Sages also called it the bread over which many things are answered. It has the dual symbolism of representing our affliction and our redemption.
The four cups of wine represent the four different terms for our redemption in the Torah (Exodus 6:6-7). Wine is the drink of free men! Bitter herbs is affliction (just look at the faces of those eating horseradish!). And Hallel is our thanks to the Almighty for our redemption and freedom.
Passover is the holiday of Freedom - spiritual freedom. The Almighty brought us out of Egypt to serve Him and to be free. Isn't this a contradiction? What is the essence of Freedom?
Is "freedom" the ability to do what one desires unhampered and without consequence? That is license, not freedom. James Bond had a "license to kill," not the freedom to kill. Freedom means having the ability to use your free will to grow and to develop.
Our leaving Egypt led us to Mt. Sinai and the acceptance upon ourselves the yoke of Torah. This is the centerpiece of our freedom. It sets the boundaries of right and wrong, it sets forth the means to perfect ourselves and the world we live in, it defines ultimate meaning and satisfaction in life. Only with boundaries does one have the ability to grow and develop. Otherwise, with unlimited license life is out of control.
People think they are free when they throw off the yoke of the Torah. However, unless one has the revealed wisdom of the Torah, he is at risk at becoming a "slave" to the fads and fashion of his society. Slavery is non-thinking action, rote behavior, following the impulse desires of the body. Our job on Pesach is to come out of slavery into true freedom and to develop a closer relationship with the Almighty!
During all eight days of Pesach we are forbidden to own or eat chametz (leavened bread - i.e., virtually any flour product not especially produced for Pesach) or have it in our possession (Exodus 13:7). Why the emphasis on being chametz-free? Chametz represents arrogance ("puffing up"). The only thing that stands between you and God ... is you. To come close to the Almighty, which is the ultimate pleasure in life and the opportunity of every mitzvah and holiday, one must remove his own personal barriers. The external act brings the internal appreciation - we remove chametz from our homes and likewise work on the character trait of humility.
For more on "Passover" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) primarily deals with what are commonly called "sacrifices" or "offerings." According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: a "sacrifice" implies giving up something that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another. An "offering" implies a gift which satisfies the receiver. The Almighty does not need our gifts. He has no needs or desires. The Hebrew word is korban, which is best translated as a means of bringing oneself into a closer relationship with the Almighty. The offering of korbanot was only for our benefit to come close to the Almighty.
Ramban, a noted Spanish rabbi, explains that through the vicarious experience of what happened to the animal korbanot, the transgressor realized the seriousness of his transgression. This aided him in the process of teshuva - correcting his erring ways.
This week's portion includes the details of various types of korbanot: burnt offering, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer "blood" to gain atonement), the first grain offering, peace offering, unintentional sin offering (private and communal), guilt (for an intentional sin) offerings - varied upon one's ability to pay, and an offering for personal use of a something designated or belonging to the Tabernacle or the Temple.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah gives instructions for offering various types of flour offerings prepared in different manners:
"And if you bring near a flour offering baked in the oven ... and if your offering is a flour offering baked in a pan ... and if your offering is a flour offering baked in a pot..." (Leviticus 2:4,5,7).
What is the deeper meaning behind each of these different offerings?
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains: The Mincha, flour offering, expresses our appreciation to the Almighty for our happiness in life. Minchat solet, the fine flour offering, has many forms of preparations to focus us on appreciating from the basic necessities of life to the wonderful "extras" with which we have been blessed.
The offerings are baked in an oven, a pan and a pot corresponding to bread, cake and specially prepared dishes. Bread (ma'afeh tanur) is ordinary food, a necessity for happy daily life. Cake (machavat) signifies the extra enjoyment, the historically unusual condition of luxury. The specially prepared dish (marcheset) is for a special occasion, the temporary, passing moment of a unique joy. Our lesson: focus and appreciate each and every thing in our lives as a gift from the Almighty, Who loves us and cares for us!
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 27
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Guatemala 5:56 - Hong Kong 6:16 - Honolulu 6:18
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New York 6:57 - Singapore 6:56 - Toronto 7:20
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
It is not genius, nor glory, nor love
that reflects the greatness of
the human soul; it is kindness.
-- J.B. Lacordaire
With Deep Appreciation to
Dr. Gary L. Ostrow
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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