Friday, March 26, 2010

11th of Nissan. Birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. PARSHAS TZAV

In this week's Torah portion of Tzav it talks about the fire that was lit on the Altar. The kohanim (priests) would light a fire, and in turn, G-d would send His fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifices. This fire from G-d would only come if there was first the physical fire kindled by the kohanim.

Now, the fire from G-d is an unlimited force without any boundaries wheres the physical fire lit by the kohanim was limited. However, it is specifically through the kindling of THIS physical fire that would cause the fire from above to descend.

Every one of us has our own Sanctuary within, in which G-d desires to dwell. When we offer up to G-d our fire, our entire energy, we merit that G-d descends and gives us His fire-- an abundance of blessings and strength.


Today is the Birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. T
he Rebbe was once asked to elaborate on the nature of his position. The Rebbe replied that he is a miner. Just as a miner digs into the depths of the earth and ultimately comes up with jewels and precious metals, so, too, the Rebbe teaches and empowers us to penetrate to the depths of our being and reveal the inner G-dliness dormant within our souls.
The Rebbe operated from a different perspective. What is significant is not what he or other people see or want in this world, but what G-d wants. Why did G-d create the world? A person ought to look beyond his own individual horizons and see a larger picture - a Divine picture. To aid us in this process, we connect with the Rebbe, study his teachings and follow his directives.

The world was created solely for Moshiach. Becoming more acquainted with G-d's purpose for creation will make us more capable of prodding that purpose into fulfillment and enabling the world to reach that desired state.

Let us utilize this auspicious day and give the Rebbe a birthday gift of making good resolutions to increase in the areas of Torah learning, prayer and good deeds..and hastening the day when we will finally live in a world that openly declares the name of G-d.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

11th of Nissan. Birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Every person who has developed a relationship with the Rebbe has his own way of talking about the Rebbe. But every person also realizes that his viewpoint is but a limited one; there is something much greater about the Rebbe, something that he cannot possibly describe. Nevertheless, by seeing a variety of personal perspectives, it is possible to develop a heightened sensitivity to what that greater dimension is.

Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth writes about his first encounter with the Rebbe:

As a young man, full of questions about faith, I had the privilege of meeting the greatest Jewish leader of my generation, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Heir to the dynastic leadership of a relatively small group of Jewish mystics, he had escaped from Europe to New York during the Second World War and had turned the tattered remnants of his flock into a worldwide movement. Wherever I traveled, I heard tales of his extraordinary leadership, many verging on the miraculous. He was, I was told, one of the outstanding charismatic leaders of our time. He was certainly not charismatic in any conventional sense. Quiet, self-effacing, understated, one might hardly have noticed him had it not been for the reverence in which he was held by his disciples. That meeting, though, changed my life. He was a world-famous figure. I was an anonymous student from three thousand miles away. Yet, in his presence, I seemed to be the most important person in the world. He asked me about myself; he listened carefully; he challenged me to become a leader, something I had never contemplated before. Quickly it became clear to me that he believed in me more than I believed in myself.

There was no grandeur in his manner; neither was there any false modesty. He was serene, dignified, majestic; a man of transcending humility who gathered you into his embrace and taught you to look up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Erev Pesach story with R' Levi Yitzchak Berditchever

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev spent his life acting as the self-appointed character witness for the Jewish people, engaging in a constant dialogue with G‑d, pointing out the unique qualities of every Jew he met.

It was the afternoon before Pesach, and Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was wandering through the streets of the Jewish quarter seeking out the local smugglers. From one he quietly asked for a quote on forbidden tobacco, from another he inquired about the availability of smuggled embroideries. And so on, no matter the merchandise he sought, everything was available for the right price.

However, when he started asking the smugglers to supply him with some bread or whiskey, (that is chometz) those very same businessmen who had previously proved so accommodating balked. "Rabbi," said one, "are you trying to insult me? The seder will be starting in just a few hours and no Jew would have even a speck of chametz left in his home or business."

Not one merchant was willing or able to come up with even a crumb of bread or an ounce of alcohol. The town had converted into a chametz-free zone.

Thrilled with the results of his failed quest, the Berdichever looked up to heaven and declared: "G‑d Almighty, look down with pride at Your people! The Czar has border guards and tax-commissioners dedicated to his commands. The police and the courts are devoted to tracking down and punishing smugglers and black-marketers, and yet, anything one could possibly want is available. Contrast this with the faith and loyalty of Your Jews. It has been over 3,000 years since you commanded us to observe Passover. No police, no guards, no courts and jails enforce this edict—and yet every Jew keeps Your laws to the utmost!

"Mi k'amcha Yisrael – Who is like Your nation, Israel?!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Selling Chometz!!

We are commanded by the Torah that if a food contains even a trace of chametz, we don't eat it, we don't derive benefit from it, and we make sure not to have any of it in our possession for all the days of Passover.

What is Chametz? Chametz is any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, or their derivatives, which has leavened (risen) or fermented. Our Sages have determined that flour from any of these five grains that comes in contact with water or moisture will leaven unless fully baked within eighteen minutes.

Therefore, any chametz that we did not dispose of (including chametz utensils that were not koshered for Passover), should be locked up and put away for the duration of the holiday and furthermore, must be sold to a non-Jew as prescribed in Halacha.

Since there are many legal intricacies involved in this sale, a rabbi acts as our agent both to sell the chametz to the non-Jew on the morning before Passover as well as to buy it back the evening after Passover ends.

Please consult with your Rabbi today and let him help you sell your Chametz on time!

To be certain that a product is Kosher for Passover, it must have rabbinical certification stating so. Otherwise, it is possible that it contains chametz ingredients, or traces of chametz if it was processed on the same equipment as chametz products. Thus, unless a product is certified "Kosher for Passover," we consider it chametz, and make sure not to have it in our possession on Passover.

Additionally, not all Matzot are fit for use on Passover! Matzah used all year round might be complete chametz! Only matzahs baked especially for Passover may be used on Passover.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pesach - Season of Freedom/ Festival of Matzot

The festival of Passover is commonly referred to as the "Season of our Freedom" and also the "Festival of Matzot." These names relate to aspects of Passover that are for all times and in all places.

"Season of our Freedom" . A person may be enslaved to his own passions. True freedom from this kind of enslavement can be achieved only through Torah and Mitzvot.

"The "Festival of Matzot" consists of the obligation to eat Matzah and the prohibition of eating chametz, leavened products.

The obligation to eat Matzah is limited to a specific amount at a specified time - a quantity the size of an olive must be eaten on the first night of Passover. However, the prohibition against chametz knows different limits; the tiniest particle of chametz is forbidden throughout the holiday.

Leavened dough rises continually. Matzah is the very opposite of that - the dough is not permitted to rise at all.

Our Rabbis explain that chametz is symbolic of haughtiness and conceit - traits so harmful that they are at the root of all negative traits. This is one of the reasons why even the minutest amount of chametz is forbidden - haughtiness and conceit must be completely nullified.

Ridding ourselves of the traits represented by chametz and performing the mitzvah of eating Matzah enables us to overcome our faults. We are then able to free ourselves from spiritual exile, and enjoy this freedom throughout the year.

T'is the Season of Freedom and Festival of Matzot.

PESACH - Matza of Faith

Matzah, the unleavened bread, (the Bread of Faith) is the most prominent item at the Pesach Seder.
It is the "bread of poverty" that symbolizes our hardship under Egyptian slavery. It is also the "hasty bread" that did not have time to rise, reminiscent of the nature of our redemption -- the sudden, overwhelming change that the Almighty performed in our lives. At the stroke of midnight on Passover night, G-d instantaneously transformed a materially and morally impoverished clan of slaves into a free people -- into the nation chosen to be His "light unto the nations" and to play the central role in His purpose of creation.

We did not have the time to divest ourselves of our slave mentality and to comprehend the significance of the role for which we were being chosen. All we had was our faith in G-d -- a faith that had persevered throughout our long and harrowing exile.

It was this faith, that took us out of Egypt and set us on the road to Sinai.

Faith got us out of Egypt, but it could not get Egypt out of us. To become truly and inherently free we had to change from within, by means of a gradual process of internal growth and development.

So following the instant exodus of Passover, G-d embarked us on a regimen of self-refinement and transformation. Only at the end of a forty-nine-step process (which we re-experience each year with the 49-day Omer Count) did He enter into His covenant with us at Mount Sinai.

At Sinai, when we received the Torah, we had internalized the faith of the Exodus. We had attained an understanding and appreciation of our mission as G-d's holy nation.

Does Matza have a taste? Yes! It's the taste of faith, the taste of commitment, the taste of self-sacrifice.