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  • Chief Rabbi Goldstein

Compendium Of Pesach Articles

1.      Article Published in the Jewish Report

In Every Generation

In 1947, David Ben Gurion famously said at the United Nations: “Three hundred years ago a ship called The Mayflower left for the new world … Is there a single Englishman who knows the exact date and hour of the Mayflower’s launch … do they know how many people were in the boat? Their names? What they wore? What they ate? … More than 3 300 years before the Mayflower set sail, the Jews left Egypt. Any Jewish child, whether in America or Russia, Yemen or Germany, knows that his forefathers left Egypt at dawn on the 15th of Nissan … Their belts were tied and their staffs were in their hands. They ate matzot and arrived at the Red Sea after seven days … Jews worldwide still eat matzah for seven days from the 15th of Nissan, and retell the story of the Exodus, concluding with a fervent wish ‘Next year in Jerusalem’. This is the nature of the Jewish people.”

It is at the Pesach seder that these powerful facts of Jewish history are relayed – the facts which lay the foundation for our vision and values contained in the Torah and expressed through the mitzvot.  The Pesach seder has a special place in the hearts of Jews across the world. More than eighty percent of Jews in Israel participate in some form of Pesach seder; and in South Africa the figure is more than ninety percent. The power of the Pesach seder goes way beyond statistics. The seder is in our hearts because it is at the heart of Judaism and the future of the Jewish people, it is that time of the year when one generation hands over to the next the history, vision and values of what it means to be a Jew.

How does the seder ensure that the facts and values of our Divine mission are conveyed from one generation to the next? The clue is the “mah nishtanah” – the famous four questions. If you look carefully in the haggadah, you will find that these questions are not answered immediately, and some are only answered indirectly. The inescapable conclusion is that in a certain fundamental sense the questions are more important than the answers and that the Pesach seder is not merely a history lesson dictating dry facts to the new generation. The questions symbolise an active and lively interaction, which aims to nurture an open and loving atmosphere. The seder is a dynamic dialogue, not a monologue, because it is conveying the very essence of who we are and what our purpose is on earth. G-d has designed the seder to be a space and a forum where the facts, values and vision of Judaism are transmitted from one generation to the next in the context of the bonds of love.

The Pesach seder with its potential to uplift and inspire families can be a model for Jewish life in general. It is in the hearts of so many Jews across the globe because we intuitively understand its vital importance for a vibrant Jewish future. The seder is a call to Jewish families for how to live our lives. It teaches us all how we need to make time and space for one another in order to discuss and to debate the most important dimensions of what it means to be a Jew. Just as on the seder night when families sit together to discuss the big ideas of what it means to be a Jew, so too can we do that all year round, making time for each other. Let’s do it at the Shabbos table and during the week by learning Torah together. Let the dynamic conversations continue beyond the seder. Let families talk to each other, discussing and understanding what it means to be a Jew, our values, our faith, who we are, where we come from, our faith, our values, our vision for the future.

Gina and I wish the entire community a joyous Pesach filled with Hashem’s greatest blessings.

2.      Article Published in The Star

Passover: The Power of Righteous Women

The rape crisis in South Africa casts a shadow of evil on our society. Good people must join forces to fight it. First and foremost, rape must be dealt with as part of the wider fight against violent crime in South Africa. Rape will never be defeated until policemen and prosecutors fulfill their duties with excellence in arresting and convicting the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. But, Judaism also teaches that the way to defeat the darkness of evil is to increase and strengthen the forces of light and goodness in the world. We, the vast majority of South Africans, are decent, law-abiding good people. We all need to join hands and increase the light of moral values to uplift our entire society.

Where to begin?  There is an important clue for us tonight, when Jews around the world will gather to begin celebrating Passover, the festival of freedom which gives thanks for G-d’s miraculous liberation 3365 years ago of the Jewish people from slavery and oppression in Egypt. The Talmud says, “In the merit of righteous women we were redeemed from Egypt, and in their merit we will be redeemed in the future.” An important message of Passover is that righteous women can change and redeem the world.

This message emerges very powerfully from the Bible. The Book of Genesis speaks not only about the founding fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but also the founding mothers – Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. Often it was the women who intervened to ensure the correct path was taken. Both Sarah and Rebecca acted against the better judgment of their husbands and G-d concurred with them. At the time of the redemption from Egypt, it was Moses and Aaron, together with their sister, Miriam, who led the Jewish people out of slavery and through the miraculous years in the desert.

South Africa’s liberation from Apartheid was also led by remarkable women, whose bravery and brilliance played a crucial role in freeing our country from the brutal oppression. But it was not only the women leaders who were liberators; it was the mothers, daughters and sisters who gave strength and direction to millions of families across South Africa to stand up to the evils of Apartheid with fortitude and faith. This is the true meaning of the statement that “in the merit of righteous women we were redeemed from Egypt”. According to the Talmud, the women of the time strengthened their marriages and their families so that the nation could survive the awful slavery with its soul still intact. During the dark days of Apartheid, masses of righteous South African women worked, gave birth to and raised children and ensured the running of their households.

As we build the new South Africa together, let us recapture the spirit of the struggle. Let us rekindle the power of the righteous women to change and redeem the world. Every Friday evening Jewish women light candles in their homes to usher in the holiness and refreshing serenity of the Sabbath. This simple act symbolizes how women can bring the light of love, moral values, family bonds, faith and loyalty into their homes and the lives of their families. The gateway to redeeming South Africa today is through the power of women. Great strides have been made in South Africa in recent years towards gender equality. These efforts address the very important sphere of politics and business. But we cannot neglect to acknowledge, pay tribute to and strengthen the sacred and profound daily contribution made by the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of South Africa to nurturing great families and communities, and contributing to society.

The Passover message for South African men is to understand and appreciate the vital irreplaceable role of women in building a great country. And more than that, to become equal partners with them in building families and communities. Children need fathers and mothers in their lives, and great marriages and families are nurtured through active participation, with no one’s role limited only to the fields of labour and the boardrooms of commerce. Judaism teaches of the awesome power of family to overcome suffering and challenge, and to create the loving framework for the human spirit to flourish. In Egypt, it was the loving power of marriage and family that the righteous women of that generation nurtured and strengthened.

What can be done to make this vision a reality for our families and our country? More than anything families need undistracted time together to talk and connect in an atmosphere of love. Judaism creates this space and time every week during the Sabbath when families gather together around the table to talk and connect in the tranquil Sabbath atmosphere without the distractions of life’s daily demands of work and chores, and without noisy and demanding technologies. These ancient lessons are more important than ever in our turbulent and pressurized modern world. Television and constant internet connectivity, combined with financial and other pressures are pulling families apart as people descend into their own private space disconnected from those who love them the most. South Africa will become a better place for all, if families get together regularly around the supper table, to share their hopes and concerns, joys and disappointments, and very importantly as well, their values and moral principles. The loving environment of these deep relationships can give us all the emotional energy and ethical clarity to live life in the best possible way. The righteous women of society bring redemption to the world by creating and sustaining loving and close families. Men can pay tribute by joining the women as equal partners in these holy endeavours. Together we can create an army of strong and inspired families to spread the light of kindness, morality, dignity and love in the world, so that the forces of darkness can be vanquished forever.

3.      Article Published in the Jewish Tradition

In 1913 the Johannesburg Beth Din was established. During this centenary year we celebrate and recognise that the Beth Din provides the basic religious infrastructure, administration and leadership for our community to live a full Jewish life in South Africa in accordance with the Halacha.

Pesach is the perfect time of year to reflect on this momentous milestone. As a direct result of the authority and efforts of the Beth Din, we have access to food products necessary to enjoy both a joyous as well as kosher Pesach. It is a logistical triumph requiring many months of work of the Kashrut Department’s dedicated staff to ensure that our community can have a kosher Pesach with access to more than one and half million million different food items! It involves oversight of approximately sixty different factories and establishments around South Africa, and inspections in four overseas countries; not to mention analysing the ingredients of about five hundred and fifty different medicines and vitamins!

Pesach is also a time when we are acutely aware of the concept of true Torah justice. One of the major themes of Pesach is remembering the Egypt experience in order to nurture values of compassion and justice. Thirty six times the Torah instructs us concerning special care for “the stranger, the widow and the orphan” – the classic biblical categories of people who are most vulnerable; as the Torah states, “You shall not taunt or oppress a stranger for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt. You shall not cause pain to any widow or orphan” (Exodus 22:20-21). Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (1194-1270) explains this verse: when we were in Egypt we were completely helpless with nobody to defend us, and yet G-d came to our defence; and so too should we realise that we need to come to the defence of the vulnerable, and that if not, then G-d will come to their defence. The Midrash says that “the Egyptian bondage was of great value for us, since it served to implant within us the quality of kindness and mercy”.

The Beth Din is mandated to defend the most vulnerable members of our community and is the guardian of Torah justice within our community. G-d gave the Torah not only to instruct us on how to serve Him spiritually, but also on how to be ethical towards our fellow human beings. Torah law governs not only prayer and kashrut, but also all inter-personal interactions, including commercial ones such as contract and damages, as well family and societal relationships. The Talmud together with the Shulchan Aruch and the other great Halachic works written over many generations, contain G-d’s wisdom and instructions for how to govern society and how to resolve the most intricate legal and ethical issues. Relying completely on this awesome heritage of learning, justice and wisdom, the Beth Din rules in situations of dispute and conflict, without fear or favour, and thereby provides the halachic foundations for our community.

As we celebrate Pesach during this milestone year, let us pause and reflect on the great blessing of one hundred years of the Beth Din’s service to and leadership of our community. May Hashem bless the Rosh Beth and the Dayanim together with all of us, so that we may merit to continue to build a community dedicated to Torah justice and compassion. 

4.      Pesach : A New Approach (Article Transcript of Podcast)

With Pesach just around the corner, I wanted to share with you an amazing question, which changes the way we think about Pesach. This coming Monday and Tuesday night we will all be sitting around our seder tables. The seder is such a highlight of the year. But what is it really about?

As we know, the atmosphere and purpose of the seder is thanksgiving to G-d for having taken us out of Egypt. It is a night of gratitude and acknowledgement of the great miracles – the ten plagues, the splitting of the sea – that we witnessed when we were taken out of Egypt.

What are we grateful for?

The Dubnah Magid, one of our great sages from 19th-century Eastern Europe, asked a very simple question, which necessitates taking a step back and re-examining everything we thought we understood about Pesach. He asks: what are we thanking G-d for?

The Dubnah Magid, famous for his analogies, gives the following parable to explain: Suppose you break your arm, G-d forbid, and a doctor sets the bones, puts it in a cast, and helps you make a full recovery. You would be grateful and give thanks to the doctor. But what if it was the doctor who broke your arm in the first place? Would you still be grateful to him for healing you?

The analogy is clear: why, asks the Dubnah Magid, should we give thanks to G-d on Pesach if He put us into slavery in the first place? We were not taken into slavery by an invading army. We had been in the Land of Israel and G-d made a plan to get Jacob and his family to go down to Egypt. (Remember, Joseph was sold; then there was a famine, and Jacob and his family went down to Egypt and were reunited with him.) And even on the way down to Egypt, when Jacob was concerned about going down, G-d told him to go, that this was part of the plan and that He would be with him. G-d had even foretold this to Abraham in the famous vision of the Covenant Between the Pieces, where He said: “Your children will be strangers in a land that is not theirs. They will be enslaved and oppressed.” G-d engineered events so that the Jewish people would end up in Egypt. If He put us into slavery in the first place, why do we thank Him for taking us out of it?

This question strikes at the heart of what Pesach is about. The Dubnah Magid provides the following analysis as an answer. On seder night we give thanks to G-d not only for our freedom, but for the slavery too, because it was the slavery, along with the resulting freedom, that made us into the Jewish people and changed the course of human civilisation with the giving of the Torah. The slavery was an integral part of the process of getting to Mount Sinai and becoming the Jewish people.

This is why we eat the maror, the bitter herbs, on seder night. The bitter herbs represent slavery. We don’t set aside the bitterness; we talk about it because it was part of the process of becoming a great nation. The structure of the Haggadah, according to the Gemara, is matchil bignut umesayem bishvach, it begins with the negative part of the story—the fact that we were slaves in Egypt – and concludes with the positive – our freedom – because the whole story has to be told. It is all part of who we are.

Slavery in Egypt was a prerequisite to becming the Jewish people

The Dubnah Magid says that we could never have merited to receive the Torah and become the great people who affected the course of history, nor could we have fulfilled our Divine purpose, without having gone through slavery first. Slavery was a necessary preparation, in two ways: firstly, going through suffering and calling out to G-d purifies a person. At times people have to go through difficulties, which elevate them to a much higher level. The Jewish people came out of the whole Egypt experience purified and with a much greater closeness to G-d.

Secondly, their faith in G-d was strengthened because of the incredible miracles they had witnessed. These miracles – the ten plagues, the splitting of the sea – were only possible because they had been in slavery. Thus, the slavery in Egypt was the platform for these tremendous miracles, which overturned the laws of nature; had there been no enslavement, these miracles would not have been possible. G-d said (Exodus 10:1-2): “I have made him [Pharaoh] and his advisors stubborn, so that I will be able to demonstrate these miraculous signs among them. You will then be able to tell your children and grandchildren how I did awesome acts with the Egyptians, and how I performed miraculous signs among them. You will then fully realise that I am G-d.”

Belief and knowledge

Interestingly, when G-d first spoke to the Jewish people as a nation, right at the beginning of the Ten Commandments, He introduced Himself with Anochi Hashem Elokecha asher hotzeiticha me’eretz Mitzrayim mibeit avadim, “I am the Lord your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt.”

You can tell a lot by an introduction. When you introduce yourself, or when you introduce someone else, you say, “this is so-and-so and he or she is …”.  That one-line introduction tells a lot about the person.

Many Jewish philosophers ask, why does G-d introduce Himself as “the Lord who took you out of the land of Egypt” rather than “I am the Lord who created heaven and earth”? What is G-d’s greater claim to our allegiance – the fact that He created the world or the fact that He took us out of Egypt? Surely the fact that He created the whole world and that we would not even exist were it not for Him is a greater claim. Why, then, does G-d say “I am the Lord your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt”?

In his philosophical work Kuzari, Rabbi Yehuda Halevi answers that the reason G-d introduced Himself with reference to Egypt and not Creation is because we witnessed the Exodus, while Creation we did not. Of course, we believe with unquestionable faith that He created the world, and we can look at rational proofs and see the brilliance of Creation; but nevertheless, the Exodus is something we personally saw. The Exodus established a personal bond between G-d and the Jewish people, and it establishes our faith for all future generations. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, another of our great philosophers, made a similarly important point generations later: Jewish belief is not based only on logical deduction. Obviously, there is logical deduction and analytical argument in Jewish thought, but it is based on historical facts.

To illustrate the point: we do not simply “believe” Napoleon existed; we know he did, because that is an historical fact; one cannot invent history. G-d took us out of Egypt after we had been enslaved. He brought the ten plagues, split the Red Sea, and spoke to us at Mount Sinai. These are historical facts. G-d introduced Himself to us on the basis of historical facts which we saw and experienced. The people who stood at Mount Sinai had seen with their own eyes how G-d took them out of Egypt and they handed that down through the generations. Every year at the seder we reinforce those historical facts as if we saw them with our own eyes; like it says in the Haggadah: “Each person must feel as though he himself went out of Egypt.” Handing down the historical facts is central to our peoplehood.

None of this would have been possible without the enslavement. Had we not been enslaved, there would be no way to take us out with miracles. This, says the Dubnah Magid, was all part of G-d’s long and elaborate plan in order to lay the foundations of the Jewish people. We would merit receiving the Torah only by going through the process of suffering and purification, clarifying who we are and getting close to G-d through our pain. And it established the philosophical and ideological foundations for Jewish belief for all generations to come. It is all part of that process, and so when we thank G-d on seder night, we don’t just thank Him for the liberation, but for the whole Egypt experience, including the slavery, because both were part of the unfolding process of Jewish destiny.

Thanking G-d for the Torah

This is how the Dubnah Magid explains the fact that in the Haggadah, we not only thank G-d for the liberation, but also for giving us the Torah. The Haggadah also mentions how our forefathers were idol worshippers and G-d took us out of that spiritual darkness as well. One might wonder why the giving of the Torah is mentioned in the Haggadah, but based on what we have said we can see that it is part of what we are grateful for on seder night. On seder night, we express our gratitude for how the experience of the slavery and liberation together prepared us to merit to receive the Torah.

Thanking G-d for everything

We eat the bitter herbs because we realise that the difficulty was part of the whole story. We don’t set aside the bitterness and the pain, because they are part of the story and without them there would have been no liberation and inspiration. It’s all interwoven. This is also true in our personal individual lives. Everything we experience in olam hazeh, this world: there is always a strand of pain and struggle interwoven with our lives. Bitachon, true trust and faith in G-d, is about seeing the bigger picture. It is about acknowledging that life is comprised of challenges and difficulties as well as liberation and the successes, and the things that we want to achieve in this world are bound up with difficulties and challenges that we have to go through.

Every part of Jewish history is part of G-d’s plan. We have trust and faith in Him that whatever happens, bitter or sweet, is ultimately for the good – Gam zu letovah, “this too is for the good.”

This is why, on seder night, we do not just thank G-d only for being free because, as the Dubnah Magid points out, there have been many enslavements since then. Rather, we are thanking G-d for the foundation of Jewish history and our becoming a people. When Jacob and his family went down to Egypt, they numbered a mere seventy souls. When they left, they numbered millions – an entire nation. They went to Mount Sinai and received G-d’s vision for them as the Jewish people. What made all of that possible was the Egypt experience, the pain and the glory, the suffering and the incredible miracles, the struggle and the resulting liberation and inspiration. All of that laid the foundations for the Jewish nation, and for that we are eternally grateful.

5.      Pesach : Time Of Love (Article Transcript of Podcast)

On Pesach, we read Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs, written by King Solomon with his prophetic insight and his renowned wisdom.  Rabbi Akiva says in the Talmud – and Rashi quotes it at the beginning of Shir HaShirim – that Shir HaShirim is the Holy of Holies. It describes the relationship between us and G-d, and uses the analogy of the relationship between a husband and wife to describe the love between us and Hashem. I encourage you to read a midrashic interpretation or one of the many commentaries on the Song of Songs, so that the analogy is fully understood.

Pesach is the foundation of our relationship with Hashem. On Pesach we celebrate how He took us out of slavery and acknowledge that we are completely dependent on Him. On this festival we think about our relationship with Hashem. It’s about conveying that our Judaism and our relationship with G-d are not just about what we have to do, but about love, devotion, passion, and enthusiasm. 

But practically, how do we serve Hashem out of love and with passion?

Judaism: uniformity and individuality

The Netziv, Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, one of our great sages of the 19th century, who was the great Rosh Yeshiva of the yeshiva of Volozhin, says that Shir HaShirim gives the direction of how to serve G-d with love. On the one hand, Torah Judaism seems to be about uniformity – we all have to keep the 613 commandments and follow the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, which instructs us on how to live our lives as Jews. It seems we are all doing the same things. On the one hand, the Netziv quotes a verse in the Book of Kohelet, in Ecclesiastes, also written by King Solomon, where it says in chapter 11 verse 9, vehalech bedarchei libcha, “go after your heart.” He quotes a number of Talmudic sources as well which say that each one of us has to find the one mitzvah which speaks to us personally, and to do that mitzvah brilliantly.

This doesn’t mean that we are exempt from the rest of the mitzvahs; rather, there must be a dual approach. On the one hand, we need to find that one personal mitzvah and do it well, with passion, and on the other hand we must serve G-d by keeping all the mitzvahs as contained in the Shulchan Aruch and within the framework of the halacha, and not step outside of it. The Netziv relates this to the verse we say in the third paragraph of the Shema, Velo taturu acharei levavchem,do not go astray after your heart.” The verse uses the word taturu, to spy, and not the usual telchu, to go after. The Netziv explains that the verse uses specifically the word taturu because taturu means to spy in order to find something new. The verse is warning us that when we come to serve G-d and are looking for something meaningful, inspiring and spiritual in life, we seek out a new way which is outside the framework of Torah. The Netziv points out that many of the mistakes of Jewish history are because people went to find a new way of serving G-d and their own brand of ethics outside of the Torah. The Torah is the full and only blueprint for how to serve Hashem.

Finding a sense of individuality within Torah

Within the framework of the Torah, says the Netziv, each of us has to find his or her unique mode of serving Hashem. Every person is unique in his service of Hashem and we need to find the one mitzvah which speaks to us personally. Some people are moved by learning Torah; others are moved by the mitzvah of chesed, of loving kindness; some are moved by the mitzvah of Shabbos; for others it’s keeping kosher; for some it’s tzedakah, charity. Each person is moved by a different mitzvah which appeals to him or her individually. This doesn’t exempt us from the other mitzvahs and we cannot pick and choose. We have to keep all of them, but he says we have to choose our specialty, the one thing which our neshama, our soul, is naturally drawn to. If you are inclined toward a particular mitzvah, says the Netziv, that indicates that that mitzvah is part of your divine destiny. Even within a particular mitzvah, there can be specific aspects which appeal to you more than others. For example, within the mitzvah of loving kindness, some people are drawn to bikur cholim, visiting the sick; others are drawn to helping with funerals and comforting the mourners; others are drawn to helping the poor; and others to giving advice or financial assistance. Or, as another example, within Torah learning there are some people who love learning Chumash, some who love learning Gemara and others who love learning philosophy. Within each one of the mitzvahs as well there is a lot of individuality that can be expressed . The message is, says the Netziv, follow your passion. Do that one mitzvah which is your passion and make it perfect because that is part of your individual mission in the world, as indicated by your natural inclination to it. And from the passion invested in that one thing, your whole life will be uplifted.

The Netziv quotes a verse in Parshat Balak, in chapter 24, verse 6, where it says keganot alei nahar, “like gardens on the banks of a river.” The Netziv explains that the difference between a garden a gan, and a field, a sadeh, is that a field is uniform, only one crop is planted – perhaps wheat, or barley, or an orchard of oranges or bananas. But our service of G-d is not like a field, it has to be like a garden, which contains many different plants and flowers. So too our service of G-d, to use the analogy of a garden, has to contain all of the plants, meaning all 613 commandments; but it must also contain a unique personal feature. For example, some gardens have a prominent magnificent rosebush; another might have a huge tree or a special kind of creeper. Every garden is unique. The Netziv explains that likewise, our “gardens” of serving Hashem have to have all the plants –  the 613 commandments and the Code of Jewish Law – but there is the one plant we are drawn to, the one flower, the one tree which belongs to us and is unique to our garden. We each have one mitzvah which belongs to us more than any other.

This is how the Netziv explains the verse in Devarim, chapter 6 verse 1 where it says Vezot hamitzvah, “This is the mitzvah,” the statutes and the laws that G-d has commanded you to keep. Says the Netziv, why does it say Vezot hamitzvah, “this is the mitzvah,” in the singular rather than mitzvot in the plural? What about all the other mitzvahs? He explains that this verse refers to the duty of taking on one mitzvah and making it personal and special, and from that the love and passion for G-d will develop.

The difference between Chametz and Matza

This is the theme of Shir HaShirim – our love and devotion to G-d. On the one hand we must be careful not to look for ways of expressing our love for G-d outside the framework of the Torah; on the other hand we must find our unique expression of it. Each one of us has unique gifts and talents, and a distinct passion for a certain area. Passion and love come from doing something that you really want to do, and you are only good at things that you really want to do. As with any endeavour in lifeyou need to try and find something that you really want to do. And, even more importantly, in our service of G-d we have to find that one mitzvah which speaks to our neshama, to our soul, and do it well. When that passion comes through, it uplifts everything else in our service of G-d.

Shir HaShirim encapsulates what Pesach is all about – our love of and relationship with Hashem. The Netziv connects this to the mitzvah of matza. He says the difference between matza and chametz is that matza is just flour and water, while chametz necessitates the addition of human ingenuity to the basic natural products to turn it into something more elaborate. Matza is a basic, elemental food, representing what G-d has given and the fact that we are totally dependent on Him. We eat the matza, the bread of humility, to say that what G-d has given us is all we have, without adding our own elaborate efforts  to it. We show our complete dependence on G-d, Who gave us our freedom. We have an obligation to view things as if we ourselves went out of Egypt, because without the Exodus, we wouldn’t have freedom, our Torah, our identity and our very life.

Our vulnerability and utter dependence on G-d and the fact that we have nothing without Him should not create a relationship merely of submissive obligation; rather one of love. Realising that whatever we are is because of Hashem is the foundation of love. And we show that love by doing what He told us to do – not only because we have to, but because we really want to – and by finding that one mitzvah which speaks to us personally and doing it with passion. This is what we need to work on during Pesach. We need to feel the joy, excitement and the privilege of being able to serve Hashem and to live a life of meaning following the Torah and the personal calling of our souls.

I want to wish you all a Chag Kasher VeSame’ach, a kosher and joyous Pesach. Some people are good at celebrating a kosher Pesach. Others are good at celebrating a joyous one. Our celebration should encompass both, the kosher and the joyous, so that we can feel the incredible joy of this festival, and rejoice in our Torah and our individual role within it.


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