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Passover (first day) 5769

Passover (first day) (Exodus 12:21-51 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING! A soon to be married young man asked me what I thought were the keys to marital happiness. I thought for a bit and reflected on many of the marriages I have observed and then responded:

___"Rule #1 - Have no expectations. Expectations are the source of virtually all misery. Almost every young groom believes that there hasn't been a woman like he's marrying since Adam met Eve. It is hard to live up to an image on a pedestal.

___"Rule #2 -- Always focus on your own responsibilities and what you can do for your spouse - not on your spouse's responsibilities and what you think your spouse should be doing for you. If you see a tissue on the floor or dirty laundry, pick it up; if you don't, then you are leaving it for your spouse.

___"Rule #3 - Appreciate whatever your spouse does and express your appreciation both to your spouse and to the Almighty. Be sincere and frequent in your praise.

___"Rule #4 - Be totally committed to your spouse and to the marriage. Your number 1 responsibility is to make it work. Too many people have one foot out the door or fantasize about 'maybe I should have married someone else I dated.' My father mentioned to me that he was awarded a prize on a recent cruise for the longest marriage amongst the passengers. People asked him, "How did you stay married so many years to the same woman? (I hoped my mom wasn't there when they asked - actually, if she was there they wouldn't have needed to ask!) My father replied, 'When we got married we tied the knot with a square knot, not a slip knot.' "

___I am sure there are probably more than a few pointers that I have missed. Please, send me your rules for a happy marriage to, Subject: Rules for Happy Marriage. I will share them.


___On the second day of Pesach, the Omer offering from the new barley crop was brought in the Temple in Jerusalem. It began a period of counting and preparation for Shavuot, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the yearly celebration of re-accepting the Torah upon ourselves. This period is called Sephirat HaOmer, the counting of the Omer.

___Forty-nine days are counted and on the fiftieth day is Shavuot, the Yom Tov celebrating the giving of the Torah. There is actually a mitzvah to count each specific day which is done at the completion of Ma'ariv, the evening service.

___This is a period of national semi-mourning (no weddings or even haircuts). It was during this period that Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students died for not showing sufficient respect for each other. It is a time for us to reflect how we look upon and treat our fellow Jews as well as the tragedies that have befallen us because of unfounded (self-justified) hatred. It is a auspicious time to undertake an extra act of kindness; this will help bring perfection to the world and unity amongst Jews.

___There are two customs for observing the semi-mourning period. The first is to observe it from the end of Pesach until the 33rd day of the Omer, this year Tuesday, May 6th. Many people get married on the 33rd day of the Omer for this reason. The second custom is to observe it from Rosh Chodesh Iyar (the beginning of the month of the Hebrew month of Iyar, Tuesday evening, April 17th) until Shavuot. Unusual for our heritage, one can choose each year which custom to follow!

___These 50 days also correspond to the seven weeks after the Exodus from Egypt when the Jewish people prepared themselves to receive the Torah at Mt. Sinai. When we left Egypt we were on the 49th level of Tuma, spiritual degradation. Each day we climbed one step higher in spirituality and holiness. Many people study one of the "48 Ways to Wisdom" (Ethics of the Fathers, 6:6) each day as a means to personal and spiritual growth. Rabbi Noah Weinberg, the great educator and founder of Aish HaTorah, has his flagship series of lectures on the 48 Ways available - call (800) 864-2373 or download them at I think of this series as the "Jewish Dale Carnegie Course" for getting the most out of life! It will be one of the great purchases in your life! For more on Sephirat HaOmer and the 48 Ways go to and !

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Torah Portion of the Week
Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach
(Shabbat of the Intermediate Days of Passover) Exodus 33:12 - 34:26
(We also read Shir HaShirim, King Solomon's Song of Songs)

___Moses pleads with the Almighty not to send an angel in His place, but to accompany the Jewish people Himself through the trek in the wilderness even though they had sinned with the Golden Calf. Moses asks the Almighty to reveal how He interacts with the universe (it is a mystical interchange). Then the Almighty commands Moses to carve two stone tablets and to ascend Mt. Sinai so that He can engrave the replacement tablets for the set that Moses broke at the transgression with the Golden Calf.

___The Almighty reveals his Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Exodus 34:5) which we repeat on Yom Kippur and other times of seeking the Almighty's mercy. Moses asks the Almighty to forgive the Jewish people. The Almighty renews the Covenant with the Jewish people commanding us not to enter into a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, not make molten gods, to observe the Festival of Matzos, laws of first born issue, to keep the Shabbat, celebrate Shavuot and Sukkot and ends with assorted laws of offerings.

* * *

Dvar Torah

___In this week's Torah portion Moshe asks the Almighty, "Show me now Your glory." Moses wanted the Almighty to reveal to him Divine providence -how the Almighty interacts with the world and why He does what He does. The Almighty responds, "... you will see My back, but My face may not be seen" (Exodus 33:18-23). What does this mean?

___The Almighty told Moses - and us, "You can only understand My divine plan in retrospect, however while events happen you will not be able to understand My plan." When we make Kiddush for Shabbat we mention not only that the Almighty created the world but that He took us out of Egypt. Taking the Jewish people out of Egypt demonstrates that the Almighty controls history and has a plan.

___We see this idea demonstrated in the story of Joseph - the brothers come to Egypt, Joseph accuses them as spies, has them dine with him, keeps Shimon until they bring his brother Benjamin to Egypt and so forth until he reveals himself with the words, "I am Joseph..." At that point, everything that had happened to them became clear. Likewise, with the ultimate coming of Mashiach, the history of the Jewish people will clearly demonstrate the Almighty's plan.

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