Monday, April 2, 2012

PESACH - Seder - To Reenact/leaving mitzrayim

When The French Emperor, Napoleon,  was running for his life, retreating through Russia with his armies, he once ran into a store to hide. The sympathetic French bed-shop owner hid him under a pile of mattresses. Moments later, Russian soldiers came charging in demanding to know the whereabouts of Napolean. "He is not here, ," said Pierre, the store owner. One soldier seeing the pile of mattresses, dug his sword right in. "If he's hiding under there he's surely dead by now" he said.
And they left the shop
But the sword missed Napoleon.. "Pierre," Napolean said to the store-owner,"you saved my life! How can I repay you?"
"I have everything I need, thank you," replied Pierre. " But tell me, what did it feel like hiding under those mattresses?"
Napoleon was livid. " What!?? -Do you know who you're talking to?! I am Napoleon the Emperor of the French empire!" he roared.
"Guards! Take him to the firing squad,".
Poor Pierre was standing with his hands tied behind his back, whispering his last prayers. Four soldiers drew their guns, awaiting the order to fire.
Suddenly Napoleon appeared. "Free this man!" he commanded. He then turned to Pierre and said, 
"You wanted to know how I felt under those mattresses, "Now you know."

While historians can debate whether this actually happened, we can certainly take a lesson from it.
When we commemorate the Exodus, everything that we do to reenact the story helps us to actualize the experience. By eating matzah, specifically handmade matzah, as our ancestors prepared in Egypt, we relive the episode in a dramatic and genuine way. We recall the haste in which the Jews left Egypt—they didn't even have time to let the dough rise. Through eating bitter herbs, we remember the bitterness of the slavery. With the drinking of four cups of wine, we relive the joy of liberty, reclining expansively like free men.
like them, we too can experience true freedom from our oppressors--be they the "Pharaohs," psychological inhibitions or spiritual obstacles. On the night of the Seder we are released from their chains. It is a night when our essential spark is permitted to shine; when we overcome the limitations that prevent us from being the person that we want to be.

TZAV - Shabbos Hagadol

This week'sTorah portion is called Tzav. Tzav means “Command.” It expresses a command from G‑d about the donation of offerings in the Sanctuary, relating to the general concept of giving charity. But Tzav also means: “Connect.” It expresses the idea that G‑d’s laws establish a connection between the individual and G‑d.
The very fact that G‑d has issued a command to the person imparts a sense of significance to that person’s life. He or she is now bonded with G-d by a Divine instruction. The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that this connection is there even if the person does not fulfill the instruction. As the Sages put it, “even though he sinned, he is a Jew.” The fact that the 613 commands in the Torah are addressed to the individual gives that person a significant role and purpose. And of course, this role is properly fulfilled by observance of the commands. Yet the person who does not yet observe them has not lost his role in the system.
When it comes to a command such as charity, in which one has to give something away, we all need encouragement. The Sages tell us that this is the force of the word “Tzav” : to give us encouragement through the generations. The encouragement is the knowledge that through this command of G-d we are truly connected with Him.

This Shabbat, is the Shabbat before  Pesach it's called Shabbat haGadol, the Great Shabbat.

When the Jews were in Egypt, they were commanded on that day to take a lamb and tie it to the bedpost. Which they were later to bring as a Pesach sacrifice. The lamb was the god for the Egyptians and so when they saw this it made them very angry but they could not utter a sound in protest.
Many miracles were performed at that time, so we refer to this day as Shabbat haGadol.
We have a custom on this shabbat to read a portion of the Haggadah which tells the story of the Exodus