Metzora (Leviticus 14-15 )
GOOD MORNING! About one week left to buy your wine and matzos (if you haven't yet) -- and to prepare what you wish to share at the Seder! Robert Heinlein once said, "A generation which ignores history has no past and no future." Learn, share and help create a future! The Seders are Friday night, April 19th and Saturday night, April 20th.
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 child [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. It has the dual symbolism of representing our affliction (we ate it while slaves) and our redemption (we hastily made matza to eat when we left Egypt).
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.
To understand more about Passover and to have fascinating ideas to share at the Seder, go to: Aish.com/Pesach . Check out: "All in the Seder"; "It Ain't Over 'til it's Passover"; "The ABC's of Passover"; "Google Exodus"; "Passover Rhapsody" and ... "The Passover Primer"( a collection of essential articles).
Metzora, Leviticus 14:1 - 15:33
The Torah continues with the laws of physical and spiritual purity. The focus of this portion is upon tzora'as, a supernatural physical affliction sent to warn someone to refrain from speaking badly about others. The disease progressively afflicted home, clothes and then one's skin -- unless the individual corrected his ways and followed the purification process stated in the Torah.
This week's portion continues with the purification process for the metzora, the person afflicted with tzora'as and then the home afflicted with tzora'as. The portion ends with the purification process for discharges from the flesh.
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"This shall be the law of the one stricken with tzora'as on the day of his purification, and he shall be brought to the Cohen" (Leviticus 14:2).
Why does the Torah tell us that he will be brought to the Cohen? Won't he come of his own accord? Rabbi Ibn Ezra, a 12th century commentator, explains that after the tzora'as clears up he will not want to bring the offerings that he is responsible to bring.
When a person has tzora'as, he will definitely claim that of course he will bring the necessary offerings when the tzora'as clears up. Once he is cured, he can easily forget his obligations. Now that nothing is pressing him, he will focus on other things and not on meeting his obligations. (It's kind of like not paying pledges after the person gets well...)
Some people find it difficult to meet their responsibilities. When they need favors from someone or want to impress someone, they might make many promises. When the time comes to keep their obligations, they do all they can to avoid meeting them. A person with integrity will derive pleasure from meeting his responsibilities and will not need others to coerce him to keep them. The more pleasure you feel when meeting your obligations, the more motivated you will be to meet them.
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
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If you don't sacrifice for what you want,
what you want becomes the sacrifice