The Haftoros of the Three Weeks

The Tur quotes a Pesikta that seems to be a pedestrian Halacha about what Haftora to read but actually opens up a whole different view of the year. The Pesikta says, that starting from Shiva Asar B’Tamuz we read twelve unusual Haftorot. First we read three of punishment during the Three Weeks between Shiva Asar B’Tamuz and Tisha B’Av. Then there are the seven more, from Shabbas Nachamu till Rosh HaShana, which are of comfort. And then we read two of repentance, during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva. But the Pesikta begins with an introduction, “From Bereishis till Shiva Asar B’Tamuz we read the Haftora that is relevant to the cycle of the Parsha.” It seems to be very clear that as we enter the time of Shiva Asar B’Tamuz the world enters a different cycle. What is the meaning of this?
Whenever there is a cycle of seven and three that form ten, there is a basic underlying idea. This world is the world of Teva- nature. In Chazal and as explained by the Maharal , seven is the realm of nature. The world is created in seven days, and that is the realm of the natural world as we know it. Eight is above nature is the realm of miracle. Ten is completion, the world of Olam Haba. These seven levels correspond to what is known as the seven Sefiros. These Sefiros themselves are parallel to seven Ushpizin we say on Succoth, starting from Avrohom, the beginning of the Jewish people through the Avos, Yosef, Moshe and Aharon, and culminating with David, the harbinger of Moshiach. Similarly they are parallel to the parts of the body, the two arms the trunk, the legs, down to the lowest extremities. All of this represents the world of actions and people. And those are the Sefiros of Teva- nature.
The world of ten adds the three levels above this. They are the realm of thought, and they are not represented by any specific person. They are the world of completion, of Olam Haba. But in the context here, why are the seven lower realms those of comfort, and the three higher ones of punishment?
If we examine the creation of the world, we find that Chazal say : In the beginning HaShem desired to create the world in the realm of Din- strict accountability, and when He saw that it could not exist in that fashion, he joined to it the realm of mercy. The ultimate way for the world to exist is when people act in accordance with Din, their every action is correct and able to be balanced exactly and judged by HaShem and found correct. But such a world only exists in the realm of thought, potential; the actuality requires mercy for man to survive. But when the world reaches completion then we will be able to live in a world of Din, and then we will return to that world.
In addition, the world of mercy has constraints. As much mercy as HaShem shows, there is a point where the Din requires that the bill be reimbursed. As the Mesilas Yeshorim writes all the attributes of mercy only ameliorate the Din they do not contradict it. So what seems to be punishment is actually the realm of thought as represented by the three higher Sefiros that are thought oriented. They are the initial point of creation of the world, and the goal to which we strive to reach to perfection, but through the world of mercy.
Therefore as the Pesikta says we are entering a new realm as of Shiva Asar B’Tamuz. From Bereishis we are living in the world that is already created. But when the Three Weeks begin, we enter the world of creation. As it says in the Torah , Shiva Asar B’Tamuz was meant to be a great Chag. It was meant to be the day that Moshe came down from Har Sinai with the Luchos, and Matan Torah would reach completion. We would completely accept the Ten Commandments, and reach the level of the Ten Sefiros, a world that can work according to Din . Because of the sin of the golden calf, we lost that and these days became an eternal time of Din, as judgment not as perfection. So therefore we connect to those three higher levels, but as yearning to reach their potential. Only after we realize what we have lost can we discuss how to comfort ourselves, and retrieve what was gone. So after we go through those seven levels of Nechama (maybe even a kind of national shiva of mourning) can we recreate the world at Rosh HaShana, do Teshuva and then be ready to start the regular cycle of the year again.
This idea can also be tied to a seeming disagreement about the Three Weeks. In some sources the Three Weeks are described as being twenty two days. In others, as twenty one days . Those who discuss the idea of twenty one days, contrast it to the twenty one days from Rosh Hashana to Hoshana Raba. As an acrostic they bring the Pasuk : And you shall be only happy. The word ‘only’ in the Torah is אך which is the numeral equivalent of twenty one and it is referring to the twenty one days of Yom Tov starting from Rosh Hashana. In contrast we have twenty one days of sadness from Shiva Asar B’Tamuz till Tisha B’Av .
These twenty one days are an emanation of one the highest names of HaShem- the name HaShem told Moshe when he asked what name shall I tell the Jewish People you are redeeming them with ; the name EHY”H. That name is the name of the Crown from which all of HaShem’s Chesed emanates . And it is the numerical equivalent of twenty one. But it is in the realm of thought, and has not yet come out into reality. That is why it is a name of the future tense since it has not yet happened. In fact, when HaShem tells it to Moshe He says : Just as I redeemed you now I will redeem you in the future. It is a name of continued redemption that has not yet come.
So the first three weeks represent this aspect of the highest revelation that is all in the future in the realm of thought. As Rashi writes the letter Yud represents future which is all in the realm of thought. The last seven weeks are a type of Sefiras HaOmer from the tenth day of Av till Rosh Hashanah, forty nine days that lead to the completion of the process.
On the other hand in the sources that discuss the idea of twenty two days, they also connect it to an idea in Kabala of twenty levels of emanation from HaShem. But there is something more accessible to us, which is the idea of the twenty two letters of the Aleph Beit . The breaking of the Luchos, begins the destruction of HaShem’s written missive to the Jewish people, culminating with the destruction of the Bais HaMikdosh.
The reconciliation of these two systems seems to be in the following way. In Halacha we find that after Mincha certain of the customs of mourning (not the Halachos) are nullified. We sit on a chair not a floor or low stool; Tefilin are worn and other such changes. Some sources tie this to the idea that the Midrash says that on the afternoon of Tisha B’Av Moshiach is born. Others explain that this is connected to the idea that once the fire is put to the Bais HaMikdosh, then the Din has been appeased and the process of rebuilding can begin. In both of these we see the Din as being a challenge to reach perfection, rather than a punishment.
The process of rebuilding is the twenty one days of punishment, but they are actually the days of the future. Those end on Tisha B’Av. Those who count twenty two days are looking at the actuality the missing letters of the Torah. But in the realm of those who live for the future, Tisha B’Av is the beginning of the future. So the judgment ends on the twenty first day, and we realize that the Din is to bring us to that level of perfection.
May we be Zoche to see the future, and may all the tears of the past weeks, and the past two thousand years will turn to joy.

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Bila’am – Mah Tovu – The Jewish Home

רש”י על במדבר פרק כד פסוק ה – (ה) מה טבו אהליך – על שראה פתחיהם שאינן מכונין זה מול זה:
שבת דף קיח/ב – אמר רבי יוסי מימי לא קריתי לאשתי אשתי ולשורי שורי אלא לאשתי ביתי ולשורי שדי
נצח ישראל – פרק לה – וביאור דברים אלו, דע שנקרא מלכות בית דוד ‘סוכה’. כי כל מלכות נקרא ‘בית’, וכמו שפירשו רז”ל (סוטה יא ע”ב) “ויעש להם בתים” (שמות א, כא), בתי כהונה ומלכות. לפי שהדבר שהוא מציאות חזק בעולם נקרא ‘בית’, שהוא בנין קבוע. וכן המלכות נקרא ‘בית’, מפני החוזק והקביעות שיש למלכות. וכמו הכהונה נקרא ‘בית’ מפני חוזק הכהונה, שאין לו הסרה לעולם. ולפיכך קרא מלכות בית דוד ‘סוכה’, לפי שמלכות בית דוד הוא מלכות אלקי, לא כמו שאר מלכות שהוא חול. ולפיכך לא קראו אותו ‘בית’, שהוא בנין קבוע, כמו הדברים הטבעים שהם בעולם קבועים. אבל הדברים האלקים אינם בעולם הזה קבועים, רק הם ארעי, כמו הסוכה שהיא ארעי. ולפיכך קיימא לן סוכה דירת ארעי בעינן, מפני שהסוכה מצוה אלקית, ראויה שתהיה הדירה שבה ארעי ולא קבע. ואמר (עמוס ט, יא) “ביום ההוא אקים את סוכת דוד הנופלת”:
שמואל א פרק ב פסוק לה – והקימתי לי כהן נאמן כאשר בלבבי ובנפשי יעשה ובניתי לו *בית* *נאמן* והתהלך
שמואל א פרק כה פסוק כח – שא נא לפשע אמתך כי עשה יעשה ידוד לאדני *בית* *נאמן* כי מלחמות ידוד אדני
מלכים א פרק יא פסוק לח – ומצותי כאשר עשה דוד עבדי והייתי עמך ובניתי לך *בית* *נאמן* כאשר בניתי
רש”י על שמות פרק א פסוק כא – ויעש להם בתים – כג בתי כהונה ולויה ומלכות שקרויין בתים. ויבן את בית ה’ ואת בית המלך. כהונה ולויה מיוכבד. ומלכות ממרים כדאיתא במס’ סוטה (שם):
שמות פרק טו – (כ) וַתִּקַּח מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה אֲחוֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַתֹּף בְּיָדָהּ וַתֵּצֶאןָ כָל הַנָּשִׁים אַחֲרֶיהָ בְּתֻפִּים וּבִמְחֹלֹת:
חדושי אגדות חלק רביעי עמוד קסד – מסכת נדה – אבל האשה בריאתה מן העצם דהיינו המין גם כן. ואמרו בשביל זה כי האשה נבראת מן העצם הוא דבר מופלג לפי ענין השכל מתיחס מין האדם אל האדמה, וכך נבראת האשה שהיא המין מן העצם, ובזה נדע כי השכל מחייב האשה מן העצם, כי האשה נחשבת נושא אל האיש ונקראת האשה בית לאיש, והבית הוא בנין חזק, לכך אמר הכתוב זה עצם מעצמי.
חדושי אגדות חלק שלישי עמוד פג – מסכת בבא בתרא – דע כי האשה נקראת בית כמו שדרשו ז”ל בכל מקום וכפר בעדו ובעד ביתו, [וכן] אמרו ז”ל בכל מקום (שבת קי”ח ב’) לא קראתי לאשתי רק ביתי, וזה כי האיש נמשל ונדמה צורה והאשה חומר, וידוע כי החומר מקבל אל הצורה, וכל מקבל הוא בית לאשר הוא מקבל. כי הבית מקבל הדבר בתוכו, ולכך אמר דגנאי בכנפיה דשרה, ששרה היא נחשבת מקבל אל אברהם, ואף כאשר הוא מסולק ומופשט מן העה”ז, אשר ימצא בו החבור האיש עם האשה, רק בעולם הבלתי גשמי ימצא ההתאחדות הזה, לפי שאברהם ושרה הם כאלו היה אחד לגמרי, ולכך אמר דגנאי בכנפיה דשרה, כי מה שגנאי הוא מורה על המיתה כמו ישיני עפר, ועם כל זה מתאחד הוא עם שרה. ואולי יקשה לך כי איך יתכן חבור בעולם שאינו גוף עד שיאמר כי יש לאברהם ושרה חבור ואחדות אף שלא מצד עה”ז, אף שאין החבור להוציא תולדות, גם שלא יתחברו ביחד להיות נזקקין זה לזה, שהחבור הוא כמו שיש חבור לשמש ולירח במה שהם משלימים ביחד הנהגת העולם, ודבר זה הוא חבור כמו שהארכנו אצל לויתךן זכר ונקבה בראם:
נדה דף לא/א – אמר אביי משמש והולך ושומר פתאים ה’ תנו רבנן שלשה שותפין יש באדם הקדוש ברוך הוא ואביו ואמו אביו מזריע הלובן שממנו עצמות וגידים וצפרנים ומוח שבראשו ולובן שבעין אמו מזרעת אודם שממנו עור ובשר ושערות ושחור שבעין והקדוש ברוך הוא נותן בו רוח ונשמה וקלסתר פנים וראיית העין ושמיעת האוזן ודבור פה והלוך רגלים ובינה והשכל
באר הגולה – הבאר הראשון וכן עשתה הטבע הצפרנים לאצבעות היד והרגלים, שלא יהיו נקופים בתנועת האדם, ושערות הראש שמירה לראש
בבא מציעא דף נט/א – אמר ליה רב פפא לאביי והא אמרי אינשי איתתך גוצא גחין ותלחוש לה לא קשיא הא במילי דעלמא והא במילי דביתא לישנא אחרינא הא במילי דשמיא והא במילי דעלמא
נתיבות עולם א – נתיב גמילות חסדים – פרק ד – דבר זה מפני כי איש ואשה הן כמו בנין בית נחשב כאשר מחבר האיש והאשה יחדיו, וכמו שתקנו בברכה והתקין לו ממנו בנין עדי עד הרי האיש והאשה יחד הם בנין, והבנין הזה כמו שאמרנו הוא בנין אלהי ואינו בנין אדם

Counting up and Counting Down

There is a well-known Machlokes between Rav Yehoshua and Rav Elazar, whether the world was created in Nissan or Tishrei[1]. We pasken like both opinions. We daven on Rosh Hashana that toady is “Haras Olam” the pregnancy of the world implying that Tishrei is when the world was created. But, we say Birchas Hachama in Nissan since that is when the sun was placed in its orbit, implying the opposite. The way to reconcile this seeming contradiction is through the Chazal[2], “Originally HaShem thought to create the world with the attribute of justice, but when he saw it could not exist in that fashion he joined with it the attribute of mercy.” The creation in Tishrei is the one of Din and the thought of HaShem; the creation of Nissan is with mercy and it is the actuality of the creation[3]. This is seen in the words of the tefila, “Haras Olam”. The word Haras means pregnancy; however it is connected to the word for thought, Hirhur. If so we are saying on Rosh Hashana in Tishrei that today is the day that the world was conceived in both meanings; in thought and in the beginning stage which is the pregnancy and only later in Nissan reached fruition.

This is very clear in the different types of Yomim Tovim of the two months. Rosh HaShana is the time of Din, justice and judgment. Nissan is in the spring and is the time of rebirth and mercy. This is further explained by examining the first night of Pesach. As Rav Dessler explains (מכתב מאליהו חלק ב’ עמ’ 19), the Jews at the night of Pesach were bereft of any Mitzvos. They were at the fiftieth level of Tumah, and did not at all deserve to be redeemed. HaShem gave them an “Isarusa D’Leila” an arousal of spirituality from above. It was a gift that they did not deserve, completely through the attribute of HaShem’s mercy. So Rosh Hashana and Tishrei are the beginning when HaShem thought to create the world through the attribute of justice. Nissan is when, so to speak, He saw that without adding the mercy of Yetizas Mitzrayim the world could not survive.

This also explains why the Malachim only object to Krias Yam Suf[4]. As Chazal tell us when HaShem was about to split the Yam Suf, the angels objected. What is the difference between the Jews and the Egyptians, they are both idol worshippers! Why was there no such objection at Yetzias Mitzrayim? Answers R’ Tzadok, at the time of Yetzias Mitzrayim it was done through the attribute of mercy so there was no place for them to object. But by the time of Krias Yam Suf, the Jews had already risen to the level of trying to deserve on their own, and then there could be an objection on the basis of a seeming miscarriage of justice.

This is also why Tishrei is the Rosh Hashanah for the whole world, as we say in the davening; all the inhabitants of the world go before You in judgment. But Pesach is for Klal Yisroel. The Jews receive the attribute of mercy because of the Avos.

This can also explain the different ways we focus on Rosh Hashanah and Pesach, whether leading up to, or counting from. Even though everyone begins to prepare for Pesach way before, but the Halachic counting, starts after the Seder. We begin to count Sefira after the Seder and strive to be prepared for Shavuos. Rosh Hashanah we start in Elul and prepare for the climax of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva. Since Rosh Hashana is the time of Din-Justice we need to prepare and we have the tools to prepare-Selichos, Tekias Shofar, L’Dovid. But Nissan is the time of mercy; it is a gift. A gift cannot be earned, so there is no preparation. But when you receive a gift you need to acknowledge and not waste it. So after we receive the gift of Pesach, we need to count up through the Sefira to utilize it correctly and wisely.

Let us use the gift of Pesach and use it as a springboard to count up to the goal of Shavuos and to be prepared to receive the Torah.

 

 

 

 

[1]ראש השנה דף י/ב – העולם) תניא רבי אליעזר אומר בתשרי נברא העולם בתשרי נולדו אבות בתשרי מתו אבות בפסח נולד יצחק בראש השנה נפקדה שרה רחל וחנה בראש השנה יצא יוסף מבית האסורין בראש השנה בטלה עבודה מאבותינו במצרים בניסן נגאלו בתשרי עתידין ליגאל רבי יהושע אומר בניסן נברא העולם בניסן נולדו אבות בניסן מתו אבות בפסח נולד יצחק בראש השנה נפקדה שרה רחל וחנה בראש השנה יצא יוסף מבית האסורין בראש השנה בטלה עבודה מאבותינו במצרים בניסן נגאלו בניסן עתידין ליגאל

[2]רש”י על בראשית פרק א פסוק א –  ברא אלהים – ולא אמר ברא ה’ שבתחלה עלה במחשבה לבראותו במדת הדין וראה שאין העולם מתקיים והקדים מדת רחמים ושתפה למדת הדין. והיינו דכתיב ביום עשות ה’ אלהים ארץ ושמים:

[3]ספר ליקוטי אמרים – אות טז- דין וכידוע מהאריז”ל והוא גם כן בתוספות בראש השנה (כ”ז.) ד”ה כמאן עיין מה שכתבו מתחילה וכו’ ולבסוף בראו במדת הרחמים דבזה נתקיימו דברי שני האומרים דבניסן ותשרי נברא העולם, ובתשרי הוא הרת עולם במחשבה [וקיימתי דבר זה מסברא דנפשיה בקונטרס משיב הטענה שלי] והוא במדת הדין ולכן צריך אתערותא דלתתא מקודם ואתוון למפרע שנקרא שהאור מתחיל מלמטה על ידי אתערותא דלתתא מוליד אתערותא דלעילא למעלה ולכך הוי”ה המושלת בתשרי צירוף והיו הבנים קודמים לאבות

[4]  ילקוט שמעוני שמות – פרק יד – רמז רלד –  דבר אחר והמים להם חומה שירד סמאל ואמר לפניו רבונו של עולם לא עבדו ישראל עבודה זרה במצרים ואתה עושה להם

The Sweetness of the Maror

Introduction

One of the major themes of the Hagadah is that it begins with the Jewish people’s disgrace and ends with our praise. This is expressed in two ways, either as first we were slaves and then free men, or first we were idol worshippers and then servants of Hashem[1]. The Gemarra expresses this same idea in a different manner. “Three gifts are acquired through suffering, Torah, Eretz Yisroel and Olam Haba.” The Sfas Emes explains that the specific suffering that is the foundation for the Torah is the exile in Egypt[2]. Thus the two themes above are really one, since the slavery brings to the Torah and the service of Hashem, as Pirkei Avos (6,2) says; “The only truly free person is one who is involved in Torah”. The Maror is the aspect of the Seder where we actualize the suffering of the exile to bring to the desired goal.

Therefore the Maror is one of the main Mitzvoth on the night of the Seder. When there is a Korban Pesach, it is a Torah Mitzvah, and even when not, it is D’Rabanan[3]. R’ Tzadok reveals that this is the only positive Mitzvah that can only be performed with a vegetable[4]. This need to perform a Mitzvah with a vegetable goes back to the beginning of Gan Eden and the sin and punishment of Adam.

The sin of Adam caused many changes and curses into the world. One punishment that brought Adam to tears, was that instead of eating fruit from trees which are perennial, Adam now eats vegetables which are transitory. This symbolizes the change from living for eternity to living for a temporary life.

The Jews through the suffering of Egypt prepare to return to a permanent world through the Torah. Maror is the only vegetable based mitzvah, and through it we use the bitterness of the Maror as a metaphor for suffering to teach us this idea. This change from suffering to redemption has three components:

  1. The Chewing of the Maror to break down the bitterness

  2. Eating the Maror with Charoses to connect it to a higher source

  3. Eating Korech to join the Matza to the Maror

All of these processes are to rectify the sin of Adam. We change the transitory nature of the vegetable Maror to a permanent Tree of life, the Torah.

On the night of the Seder the Hagada revolves around teaching our children this idea, which they themselves represent, the permanence of a person rather than his temporary nature. By teaching our children the continuity of the Jewish people through the suffering, we ensure our future through them.

Adam and the Curse of the Vegetables

When Adam was created, the source of food he was commanded to eat was fruit from trees. As Hashem says, from all the trees of the Garden you are commanded to eat[5]. Only after the sin is Adam told, that you shall eat from the vegetation of the ground. This was such a devastating descent for Adam that his eyes dripped with tears and he cried out in shame, “Am I and my donkey to graze from the same trough![6]” This was one of the curses put upon Adam as a result of the sin. This change therefore needs to be grasped as a basic difference in the world.

Trees are a renewable resource, and eating their fruit does not consume the principal. As is said in the Mishnah in Peah that is said every morning, “We eat the fruits of the Mitzvah in this world but the principal remains for the next world[7].” Vegetables are consumed and gone. An animal does not plan for the future so it eats vegetables. The whole life of a human is “today to work and tomorrow – in the World to Come – to eat the fruits.[8]” That is why the Torah compares man to a tree[9]. So when Adam is told that he is going to eat vegetables, that means that he has no future, his life is only in the here and now and there is no connection to Gan Eden- the World to Come. That is why he cries, since eating vegetables is another descent into a fleeting animalistic world disconnected from Gan Eden where one lives for eternity.

But the Jewish people can strive to a different level. When we receive the Torah we are once again connected to eternity. The giving of the Torah is meant to rectify the sin of Adam, and reconnect this world to an eternal higher world. This can be seen on two levels, one in the specific Mitzvah of Maror and the second, the idea of vegetables in general as seen in Perek Shira. We have the ability to turn the curse of Adam of the vegetables into the Mitzvah of Maror.

The Bitterness of the Maror

There is a Halacha which differentiates between Matza and Maror. If you grind Matza into flour and swallow it without chewing it you have fulfilled your obligation to eat Matza. But, if you swallow Maror without first chewing it, you do not fulfill the Mitzvah[10]. Explains the Ariz”l, that Maror has the following characteristics. At first as you begin to eat it, it is sweet. As you chew it the bitterness comes out, but then at the end it is dissolved in the mouth through the chewing process and can be consumed[11].

This is a metaphor for Galus. At the beginning it seems sweet. When the Egyptians began the enslavement of the Jewish people Pharaoh himself came and joined the laborers. The Jews saw the construction of Pitom and Ramses as an opportunity and vied with each other who could produce the most bricks. It then became a bitter slavery, as the verse says, “They embittered their lives.” But as the Gemarra says three things are acquired with suffering, Torah, Eretz Yisroel and the World to Come[12]. The suffering which acquired the Torah is the subjugation in Egypt. Thus the Jews are able to utilize the bitterness of the Maror to acquire the Torah.

The Three Methods

There are three methods by which this takes place.

Chewing

The first is through the chewing. One chews with the teeth. In the Sefer Yetzirah it discusses how the thirty two teeth are the thirty two pathways of Chochma- knowledge[13]. Chochma represents the higher levels of understanding, connected to a higher reality where everything is perceived as it comes from HaShem. When one connects to a higher reality one realizes that the Maror can be broken down to its component parts and then used correctly to serve HaShem. Ultimately a Chacham realizes that there is nothing in the world which is wasted and HaShem has a plan for everything.

That is why the opposite of the Chacham is the Rasha. We tell the Rasha that if you were in Egypt you would not have been redeemed. To be redeemed you need to realize you are in exile, and that the exile needs to be changed and metamorphise into something positive. His lack of perspective of Chochma is what we mean when we say that we knock out his teeth. He lacks the ability to use Chochma to understand what is happening, so he does not deserve Chochma.

In the Hagada the repetition of the motif of four represents the four exiles. Each exile has a question in the Mah Nishtana, since exile represents a lack of clarity and a questioning of Hashem. In addition each of the four sons asks a question that represents one of the exiles. That is why when we relate the four sons to the four questions, the question of the Rasha is about the Maror. He cannot understand what the purpose of the Galus is. But the Chochom can understand, that is why his question is answered.

Charoses

The next method is the putting the Charoses on the Maror. The word Charoses in Hebrew is two words Rus, and the letters Samech and Chet which are the numerical equivalent of sixty eight. Life is Chaim which also equals sixty eight, as does Chochom. Maror is the same as Maves- death, four hundred and fourty six. Adding the Charoses to the Maror which is Gematriya of Death, changes it to life[14].

That is why the Charoses is made specifically from the fruits which represent the Jewish people as referring to the permanence of a tree and its fruit, to counteract the bitterness and transitory nature of the vegetable Maror.

The Shelah HaKodseh says that the other letters of Charoses are a reference to Rus who is the matriarch of King David and the Moshiach[15]. If we take this idea further, Naomi is married to Avimelech the leader of the Jewish people. She then descends to Moab, loses her husband and children and returns impoverished to the land of Israel . She then says: Do not call me Naomi, call me Marah; the word Maror. But then Rus marries Boaz and through her Naomi raises the child who is the ancestor of King David, who is alive forever. Add Rus to Maror and you get eternal life; that is the Rus and life of the Charoses.

Korech

The last process is Korech, when we join the Matza to the Maror. Actually we are supposed to add the Korban Pesach also, but now all we can do is a commemoration of what Hillel did and only have the sandwich with the Matza and Maror. The third Matza which we use for Korech represents Da’as, understanding[16]. The Gemarra says that whoever has Da’as it is as if the Bais HaMikdosh is built in his lifetime[17]. We cannot actually join the Matza to the Maror and truly understand how the bitterness leads to Torah since we do not have the Da’as of the Bais HaMikdosh, but we can try. So we have a remembrance. This is the approach of Hillel who lives his life through Chesed. The inclusive approach of the Midah of Chesed is the way to see everything as leading to completion. When on eats the Matza as Hillel did, the bitterness turns to praise to Hashem- Hallel.

Maror in the Hagada

And that is why the paragraph after explaining why we eat the Maror, begins “Therefore we need to praise and say Hallel- Hillel- to Hashem”. We understand the lesson of the Maror. As it says in the Torah itself, and as much as they oppressed us, we grew and expanded.

That is also the meaning of the Pasuk and its explanation in the Zohar. They embittered- Maror- our lives with Chomer and Leveinim. The simple understanding is mortar and bricks, but the Zohar tells us this refers to the methods of Biblical exegesis which are Kal Va’Chomer and Libun Halacha[18]. The Maror leads to the Torah. The structure of the Hagada is to explain the Pesukim of the Torah through Drashos. I would like to suggest that this is turning the Chomer and Leveinim of the Egypt to the Kal V’Chomer and Libun of the Torah itself.

The Perek Shira of the Vegetables

But this can be seen on a global level also. The Perek Shira of vegetables is “You water its furrows abundantly, You settle its ridges, You soften it with showers, You bless its growth. You have crowned the year with Your bounty, And Your paths drip with bounty[19].” The Midrash Rabbah brings this Pasuk to explain the blessing of Yakov that his descendants will be as numerous as the dirt of the earth[20]. The Midrash says that dirt is walked upon and beaten down. So too the Jewish people are trampled, but they realize that the punishment will ultimately be better for them. That is why the curse of Adam is to eat vegetables, but when used in the correct way the punishment is for our own good. R’ Tzadok says that the Mitzvah of Maror is to rectify all vegetables and to turn the curse of Adam into an understanding that all that Hashem does is for the good.

Our Children – Our Fruit

This idea of seeing the world as fruit of perennial trees rather than annual vegetables is basic to the whole mitzvah of the Hagada. The ultimate fruit of a human is his children, the reward of the fruit of our loins[21]. The Zohar explains that there is a Midah called Yesod. This is the ability to have progeny. That Midah is called “Beyond the body”[22], since it is the ability to extend your life past its physical limitations. The Hagada is about teaching our children, extending ourselves into being something eternal. One who invests in his children is growing fruits not vegetables. In a world which is all about “self” the Hagada makes us eternal by focusing us on our children, the eternal everlasting fruit.

May we realize through our Seder that from the Yisurin we will get the Torah enter into Eretz Yisroel and deserve the trees and fruits of an eternal Olam Haba.

 

[1]פסחים דף קטז/א- מתחיל בגנות ומסיים בשבח: מאי בגנות רב אמר מתחלה עובדי עבודת גלולים היו אבותינו [ושמואל] אמר עבדים היינו

[2] שפת אמת ספר שמות – פרשת שמות – שנת [תרמ”א]  – במד’ ג’ מתנות ניתנו ע”י יסורין תורה וא”י ועוה”ב ע”ש. וזה מטעם אוהבו שחרו מוסר ע”ש במד’. והיינו שרצה הקב”ה שיהי’ המתנות דבר של קיימא. לכן הקדים לתתם ע”י יסורין. וכמו שהי’ גלות מצרים יסורין לצורך מתנה של התורה. כמו כן יש לנו להבין יסורים של גלותינו המר שהוא הכנה לימות המשיח ולעוה”ב. לכן בכל תוקף שיש בכל גלות הוא לקיים כן ירבה וכן יפרוץ:

[3]פסחים דף קטו/א –  משום דסבירא לן מצה בזמן הזה דאורייתא ומרור דרב

[4]ספר פרי צדיק לחג הפסח – אות א  – – ובא המצוה באכילת ירקות שזה היה קללות אדם הראשון כמו שאמרו (פסחים קיח.) זלגו עיניו דמעות אני וחמורי נאכל באבוס אחד …ובא התיקון בחג הזה באכילת ירקות שהוא בא על ידי הקללה ואכלת את עשב השדה, וכאן אוכלין אותו בקדושה ומברכין עליו אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על אכילת מרור,

[5]בראשית פרק ב – (טז) ויצו ידוד אלהים על האדם לאמר מכל עץ הגן אכל תאכל:

[6] פסחים קיח.-  זלגו עיניו דמעות אני וחמורי נאכל באבוס אחד

[7] משנה מסכת פאה פרק א – אלו דברים שאדם אוכל פרותיהן בעולם הזה והקרן קימת לו לעולם

[8]עירובין דף כב/א –  דאמר רבי יהושע בן לוי מאי דכתיב אשר אנכי מצוך היום לעשותם היום לעשותם ולא למחר לעשותם היום לעשותם למחר לקבל שכרם

[9]דברים פרק כ –  ואתו לא תכרת כי האדם עץ השדה

[10]פסחים דף קטו/ב – אמר רבא בלע מצה יצא בלע מרור לא יצא

[11]שער הכוונות – דרושי הפסח דרוש ה –  וענין המרור בגי’ מו”ת והוא בחי’ הדינים הקשים שצריך לטחנן וללעסן בשיניים כדי למתק המרירו’ שבהם כנודע בסוד השחקים הטוחנים מן לצדיקים לעת”ל וז”ש מ”ש רז”ל בלע מרור לא יצא כי צריך ללועסו ולטוחנו. כדי למתק הדינים שבו. וענין החרוסת הוא זכר לטיט והוא בסוד לאה כי אנו צריכים למתק הדינים שבה ג”כ והנה או’ י’ שבאמצע ב’ הטיתין עולה לכאן ולכאן ט”י י”ט והוא סוד מילוי ההויה דאלפין שעולה י”ט והוא בגי’ חו”ה וב”פ י”ט הם לאה ורחל:

[12]ברכות דף ה/א – תניא רבי שמעון בן יוחאי אומר שלש מתנות טובות נתן הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל וכולן לא נתנן אלא על ידי יסורין אלו הן תורה וארץ ישראל והעולם הבא תורה מנין שנאמר אשרי הגבר אשר תיסרנו יה ומתורתך תלמדנו ארץ ישראל דכתיב כי כאשר ייסר איש את בנו ה’ אלהיך מיסרך וכתיב בתריה כי ה’ אלהיך מביאך אל ארץ טובה העולם הבא דכתיב כי נר מצוה ותורה אור ודרך חיים תוכחות מוסר

[13]השל”ה הקדוש – מסכת פסחים – ביאור ההגדה (טו) – ועתה נבאר בעזה”י ביותר ענין מרור. מרור בגימטריא מות שהם הדינים הקשים. וצריך ללועסו בל”ב שיניים שהם נגד ל”ב נתיבות חכמה, ובלועסן ימתק המרירות שבהן. ולכן בלע מרור לא יצא עד שילעיסנו וימתיקנו. כן מצאתי בקונטרס דהאר”י ז”ל. ונודע כי החכמה מקור החיות, כמו שנאמר (קהלת ז, יב), והחכמה תחיה את בעליה, ואז מות נתהפך לחי, סוד צדיקים במיתתן קרוין חיים.

[14] שער הכוונות – דרושי הפסח דרוש יב –  ומלת חרוסת הוא חיבור רו”ת ס”ח ורות הוא בחינת לאה להיות כי שם אדנ”י במילואו תרע”א וכשתסיר פשוטו שהוא ס”ה מנין אדני לרחל ישאר מילוי שהוא רו”ת אל לאה ושתי אותיות ס”ח הם המוחין של ז”א והם ג’ שמות אהי”ה יהו”ה אהיה העולים בגי’ ס”ח כמנין חיים הממתקין את דיני לאה הנק’ רו”ת וזהו חרוסת רו”ת ס”ח. וז”ס המרור שהוא בגי’ מות ולכן צריך למתק את המרור ואת רו”ת הנז’ באותיות ס”ח שהם חיים הנז’ שהם מוחין של ז”א. ובכורך נכנס פנימיות ת”ת דאבא שהוא מ”ה ב”ן בדעת דז”א גדלות ב’ והוא ה’ בציור ג’ ווי”ן:

[15] ספר השל”ה הקדוש – מסכת פסחים – ביאור ההגדה (טו)  –  ונקרא מרור שנאמר (רות א, כ), קראן לי מרה, שנתרחקה מן הדעת ונפלה בגלות עם בניה, וכשנזכרה נקראת חסא. ו

[16] ספר חמדת ימים – פסח – פרק ה – . אשר עליהם יצדק הרמז בסתרו לרשום ולנקד בראש הסכין במצה ראשונה הרומזת לחכמה די, ובמצה ב’ הרומזת לבינה דו, ובמצה ג’ הרומזת לדעת ה. ובכל אחד יבטא בשפתיו לאמר “לשם מצוה”:

[17] ברכות לג. – כל אדם שיש בו דעת כאילו נבנה בית המקדש ב

[18] תיקוני זהר חדש-ספרא תנינא-והאי איהו וימררו את חייהם בעבדה קשה בחמר ובלבנים, בקל וחמר ובכל עבודה בשדה, בגזרה שוה

[19] תהילים פרק סה – (יא) תלמיה רוה נחת גדודה ברביבים תמגגנה צמחה תברך:

[20]מדרש רבה בראשית פרשה סט פסקה ה  – והיה זרעך כעפר …ומה עפר עשוי דיש לכל כך בניך עשוים דיש הה”ד (ישעיה נא) ושמתיה ביד מוגיך מהו מוגיך אלין דממיגין מחתיך [נ”א מכתיך] ומייסרין אותך ומתישין את כוחך אפילו כן לטובתך משקשקין וממרקין לך מן חוביך כמה דתימא (תהלים סה) ברביבים תמוגגנה צמחה תברך

[21]תהילים פרק קכז -(ג) הנה נחלת ידוד בנים שכר פרי הבטן:

[22]פרי עץ חיים – שער השבת – פרק י – כי נצח הוד יסוד לבר מגופה

The Four Fold Seder

(There is a chart at the end to clarify the ideas, and all the Hebrew sources are also at the end. To print out only the English choose pages 1-4.)

Man in this world is a soul in exile. God takes a ‘part’ of Himself and attaches it to a body and sends it down into this world. As a result, the soul finds itself wandering in a place where it is not comfortable. As anyone in exile, there are two potential reactions. The first is to attempt to assimilate and accommodate to the new surroundings. The other is to attempt to remain true to its roots and return to its original homeland. This is the story of the soul as an individual. This same story is the national epic of the Jewish people. We are born as a nation into exile in Egypt, unable to attach to holiness. After finally tasting holiness in Eretz Yisroel, we then wander the world, trying to remain attached to our source, till the day we can return home.

This exile is not just a simple physical dislocation, but more basically is spiritual. There are four types of exile in the world. These are not just physical way stations as we travel through the world and return to our homeland, but each one represents a specific type of disconnection from HaShem. In Jewish thought these four types of exile are defined as the four kingdoms, which are represented by Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. In order to clarify what each one is, there is a need to define the different ways one is disconnected from HaShem.

The beginning of this disconnection is found in the events of the creation of the world. The original creation was completely connected to HaShem. However, when man is created, there is a need to allow him to choose. Therefore, a distance is created. This is presented in Bereishis as the river which leaves Eden and then divides into four tributaries. In the Midrash these four tributaries represent the four kingdoms mentioned above.

In the spiritual exile we find that there are four types of basic sins. Three types of them require a Jew to give up his life, rather than transgress. This is usually understood in a Halachic sense, that these sins are so severe that they override what is usually the cardinal Mitzvah of preserving one’s life. However, there is another approach to understanding the severity of these three transgressions. The purpose of life is to remain connected to HaShem. One who is physically alive but spiritually disconnected is missing the point of life. Therefore, these three cardinal sins are the complete spiritual disconnect from HaShem. They are the ultimate spiritual exile. In that way they are parallel to three of the kingdoms who are the representation of physical exile in the world.

  1. Babylon represents idol worship. Nebuchadnezzar erects a giant statue that all the nations of the world are to worship.

  2. Persia as the nation which acquiesces to Haman’s plot to kill all the Jewish people represents the cardinal sin of murder.

  3. Greece is the representation of licentiousness as defined by their edict that all Jewish women before their marriage must cohabit with the local Greek ruler.

The fourth nation is Rome. They represent the misuse of the power of speech which leads to disunity. This is described as Lashon HaRa which is parallel to all the other three. This is the greatest of all sins since it destroys the very fabric of a human that separates him from the animal, the power of speech. These are the four types of exile in the world, spiritually and physically.

These four sins are themselves only the outward manifestation of the twisted internal characteristics of such a person. The Mishnah in Avot says: Jealousy, honor, and physical desire remove a person from this world.

  1. Jealousy is the source of murder, the power of competition which brings a person to want to completely eradicate another human, because he is in your way.

  2. Honor is idol worship. The desire to want to worship idols stems from a person’s desire ultimately to honor himself. And therefore the Gemarra says anyone who has excess honor- haughtiness is as if he worshipped idols.

  3. Desire is the source of zenus- licentiousness.

  4. And Lashon HaRa is the essence of the person which is all of these together.

Within the Jewish people the antithesis of these deficiencies are the three Avot and Dovid, and they are represented by the four Mitzvoth of Pesach.

  1. Avrohom is the antidote to zenus as the Pasuk describes the tremendous Tznius between Avrohom and Sara, and the Mitzvah is the Matza, which is the opposite of physical pleasure.

  2. Yitzhchok is the antidote to idol worship as he brings himself as a sacrifice to HaShem. The Mitzvah is the bringing the Korban Pesach, the idol of Egypt.

  3. Yakov is the antidote to murder. He is the one chased by Eisav the world’s arch murdrer. This is the eating of the Maror since the Gematria of Maror is ‘Mavet’- death.

  4. Dovid is the antidote to Loshen HaRa since he turns his entire essence into a Tefila to HaShem, and completely uses his power of speech for good. This is the Mitzvah of retelling the Exodus, the use of speech correctly.

The Avot had begun this process of revelation of HaShem, but the exile to Egypt almost undid this process. As the Rambam writes in the beginning of Hilchos Avoda Zara, “and in a short moment the principle established by the Avot would have been lost”. The redemption from Egypt is to return us the heights of our Patriarchs, as the Ramban writes at the end of Shemot.

As Jewish people begin, they are meant to go through this process of reattaching to HaShem in all four ways. Originally as told to Avrohom, we were to go into Egypt for four hundred years which represents these four aspects, and then leave the exile and enter the Eretz Yisroel having reattached to HaShem despite the exile. Therefore the motif of the Seder, and the underlying theme of the Seder is the number four. But since we were unable to endure the entire process, we remain trapped in this situation, waiting to complete it.

One can apply the following scenario. Imagine a person who is severely burned. In order to heal correctly the doctors cannot allow scar tissue to form and they need to debride- scrape off- any scar tissue that forms. This is crucial to the healing process, but is extremely painful. The doctors need to ignore the agonizing cries of the patient. But, if as a result of the pain the patient begins to go onto shock and might die, they need to stop, even though later treatments will take longer, since a cure that kills the patient does not accomplish much at all. So too was the process of the Egyptian exile. Originally the ‘procedure’ was meant to be done to completion, even though it would be very painful. However, since it seemed that the ‘patient’ would expire, the procedure was suspended, to be completed over a longer period of time.

Therefore, we reenact the Exodus every year, to complete that process, a small bit at a time each year. Since there are four components to the Galus, the motif of the Seder revolves around this fourfold journey.

Magid begins with four questions. As we continue on through Magid, we meet four sons who also have four questions or lack of understanding of the Galus and Geulah. These questions of the four sons are also parallel to the four questions of the Hagadah. In reality, we are all the four sons in one person. Each of us has these doubts and questions at different times and in different ways. Therefore the answers to the four sons are also to each and every one of us.

These are also parallel to the aspects of the four exiles, and the specific Mitzvah that is performed with each of the four cups of wine. In addition they parallel the four aspects of a human: inanimate, vegetable, animal, and speech. (See chart at the end for a visual representation.)

  1. The first question is the wise son, who asks about the Mitzvoth, and therefore this question is about the Matzo. His lack of clarity which is his Galus, is to try to understand the un-understandable. He questions the idea that we end with the Matzo. We should end with something with a taste? The answer we give him is that the greatest connection To HaShem is submitting to His will, and that as much as we are wise, we still submit to HaShem. In the four cups this parallel to Kidush, sanctification and realizing that that as much as we know, there is holiness above us. This is the part of the person which is the ability to speak. This is parallel to Babylon which is idol worship, the inability to submit to HaShem.

  2. The question of the Maror is the evil son, who does not understand why there is bad in the world. He only wants to remove himself from any responsibility. The answer to him is Magid, to tell him the story of the redemption and therefore our responsibility to submit to HaShem. This therefore is the second cup upon which we retell the story of Pesach, and it is parallel to the part of the person which is animalistic. This is parallel to Persia, which is murder.

  3. The question of the reclining is of the simple son who all he sees is the simple physical changes of the reclining. As a result he does not see anything special and does not feel a need to praise HaShem in any way. It is a certain type of Ga’avah- haughtiness that does not allow seeing anything unique and therefore I have no obligations. In the cups, this is the third one, upon which we say Birchat HaMAzon, thanking HaShem for everything he gives us, and submitting to Him. This is the part of the person which is vegetable, with no feeling at all. This is parallel to Greece, which is Zenus, the complete involvement with the physical.

  4. And the dipping twice is to arouse the child who cannot even ask. This is the deepest of all the exiles, where we cannot see anything at all, but are so mired in darkness that we think it is actually light. This is the fourth cup, of opening the door and asking for the redemption from our enemies, and it is the part of the person which is parallel to the inanimate. This is the Galus we are in now, which s the deepest of all, the Galus of Lashon Hara of Edom.

And this is what we say in the Piyut of Parshas Hachodesh as we ask, “Let the four kingdoms be threshed.” This is the squeezing of the grapes to bring out the good in them. And that is why the final cup brings us to “Pour out your wrath on our enemies”, whch will happen when we calrify all four of these doubts within ourselves and the Jewish people.

(Hebrew sources below)

חכם

מצה

קידוש

בבל

ע”ז

יצחק

מדבר

כבוד

רשע

מרור

מגיד

פרס

ש”ד

יעקב

חי

קנאה

תם

הסיבה

ברה”מ

יון

ג”ע

אברהם

צומח

תאוה

שאינו יודע

טיבול

שפוך חמתך

אדום

לה”ר

דוד

דומם

 

The Seder of the Seder

The Sfas emes asks: What is lacking in Pesach’s organization that we need a Seder to make it organized? The Sfas Emes says in the name of the Maharal that miracles also have a Seder and that is the organization we are referring to. What does this cryptic statement mean?

The natural world that HaShem created has a Seder. Every day the sun rises in east and sets in west. Our entire lives are based on that concept of Seder. You cannot ignore it, since that is the way the world was created to work.

However miracles seem to not be part of a Seder. By definition a ‘Ness’ is outside of ‘Teva’. However the meaning of the Maharal is to reveal a deeper truth. This idea that miracles are outside the Seder is only correct as we are able to see it in this world. Really when viewed correctly, “yesh Seder l’Nissim”, there is an organized way to understand miracles.

This means that if a Jew gets up on Shabbos morning and turns on the car chas vshalom, nothing should happen. This is because HaShem did not just say that you cannot use fire on Shabbos. The Mitzvot of the Torah are also the blueprint of the world, and just like if I say I do not believe in gravity, that still does not allow me to fly, so this should also be true about the rules of Torah. If someone goes against HaShem’s rules, it is not that the person should be punished, but it just shouldn’t work.

However, HaShem separated Shamayim and Aretz and created a Rakia- a division. Therefore our actions that go against HaShem’s Seder can work in this world, and we can start a car on Shabbos if we choose. We can’t see what is really happening in Shamayim, that there it does not work and the rules of HaShem actually apply. Therefore if one time someone does an Aveira and tries to start their car, and as a result of HaShem’s rules it doesn’t happen, we are amazed and see that as a miracle. But really that is what happens in Shamayim every time. HaShem created this disconnect so we don’t see it happening and when we do see it happening we call it a nes. But even though we call such an event ‘Nissim’- miracles; that is the true Seder of the world.

A way of understanding this is through a parallel in the physical world. If I look at map of the Pacific Ocean there are many tiny little islands scattered across the sea. It seems as if HaShem randomly scattered a handful of sand in middle of the water, and the islands have no organized way by which they are situated. But if would take out the water and look under the surface of the water you see many mountain ranges. The islands are the parts that stick out above the surface of the water and it all makes sense.

The parallel is our world. We see Nissim only when HaShem allows us to see a peak of the Nes pushing its way through the Raki’a. But if I could peel away that veil I would see the whole system and then it would all make sense- all the Nissim.

On the night of Pesach we take individual Nissim and make them into a Seder. HaShem reveals to us the Seder in Shamayim and from there we can begin to understand and how it can lead us to Geulah. In the real world in Shamayim, HaShem runs the world for and around B’nei Yisrael. And on the Seder night we are allowed to remove the curtain and see the real world of HaShem in Shamayim.

The Sfas Emes also presents a second idea about Seder that complements this first idea.

The Pasuk says “ki B’chipazon yatzata miMitzrayim” – you left Mitzrayim hurriedly. HaShem took us out of Mitzrayim and it was if He had said. “Run for your lives” because if we would have remained there for one more second we would have descended to the 50th level of Tumah. The problem is that when you are B’chipazon- running hastily, you cannot understand the depth of all that good that HaShem is doing for you. So when we left Mitzrayim we didn’t have the chance to understand all the Nissim that were done. Even more, we could not have stopped then even if we wanted to, since we had to be B’chipazon. But just as like at the end of any miracle there needs to be a Seudas Hodaya- a way of thanking HaShem, so too on Pesach we make the Seder- a way of being able to slowly and carefully count the Nissim that HaShem did, and thank Him. If you go through the Seder you will see that we count all the Nissim! We make Seder out of what was back then B’chipazon. We break down each nes into its individual parts so that we can thank HaShem because we couldn’t do it back then when we were running for our lives! On the night of Pesach we slowly go through all of Yetzias Mitzrayim so that we can give proper Hodaya and thanks to HaShem.

The definition of Galus- is when we don’t see the hand of HaShem. Geulah is even though you might physically be in Galus, you can still see that HaShem is in charge and it is all running the way He wants it to. When Yaakov told his sons- gather together and I will show you the end of days- he was going to show them that even in the darkest of days, HaShem is with them. Once you know that, it is not Galus anymore- that is Geulah. Because we left Mitzrayim without understanding each aspect of what took place and seeing the hand of Hashem, therefore we remain in Galus. And as long as we don’t recognize the hand of HaShem we still stay in that Galus.

The Jewish calendar seems to be a cycle where year after year we seem to repeat the same rituals over and over. But a deeper understanding is that it is really a spiral. Every year we come to the same place, but hopefully an octave higher, having gone up one level. We need to take what we accomplished in Yitzias Mitzrayim last year and add to it, thereby going up a level in our personal Yitzias Mitzrayim and in the entire Jewish people’s Yitzias Mitzrayim. And if I do this, I have left Mitzrayim on one more level. As a result of all this cumulative Avoda, at some point, when someone clarifies the last point of Yitzias Mitzrayim and shows the Geulah in it, that will then be the last piece of the Geulah of Klal Yisroel. Ki lo B’chipazon yatzanu- as a result of our clarification, this Galus we won’t leave B’chipazon, but we take the lack of clarity and lack of Geulah that we are in and clarify it. And each person who clarifies the original Chipazon contributes to the ultimate Geulah.

Where do we see this in the Hagada?

As is famous in the Hagada there are Arba Banim – the four sons. It would seem that each one is a discreet person, each one depicted in a different vivid picture. And we pat ourselves on the back, that we are the Chacham, rather than any of the others. Actually, each one of us is all four of these sons. They represent through their questions the Galus. Questions are what Galus is all about, since through the questions, we come to the clarity of the Geulah. Even the son who doesn’t know to ask, that itself is the greatest Galus. Each one on a different level questions and tries to understand what the Galus is, even the Chochom. On a certain level each son is parallel to the four exiles of the Jewish people. The purpose of all their questions is that we don’t see HaShem, and what is the purpose of this Galus.

In the Galus of Mitzrayim we were supposed to go through 4 disconnections from HaShem and then leave Mitzrayim with all our questions answered seeing HaShem clearly. This is the meaning of the original plan prophesized at Bris Bein HaBasarimof 400 years of Galus which are the four sons, and the four questions which begin the Hagadah. We are meant to be redeemed through four types of Geulah, which are represented by the four cups of wine. However the Galus was too difficult and we needed to leave Mitzrayim after only 210 years, before answering all the questions. Therefore the Geulah from Mitzrayim was not complete, and we needed to leave B’chipazon. We are now finishing off the Galus of the unfinished 190 years. The night of the Seder – if we learn the Psukim correctly and learn the lessons of Geulah then don’t have to go through it physically, but will reach the understanding by the learning. So the Seder is a gift from HaShem because by learning it correctly, we can save ourselves from the Galus. A person usually needs reason to call to HaShem so HaShem gives them a Nisayon so that we will call out to Him. If we can see HaShem on our own then we do not need to be woken up. If by learning the Seder the proper way we acquire understanding of Yitzias Mitzrayim in the proper way and then we won’t need more Galus. Seder is to bring out aspects of Yitzias Mitzrayim and then that brings BE”H the final Geulah.

The Four Fold Pesach

Man in this world is a soul in exile. God takes a ‘part’ of Himself and attaches it to a body and sends it down into this world. As a result, the soul finds itself wandering in a place where it is not comfortable. As anyone in exile, there are two potential reactions. The first is to attempt to assimilate and accommodate to the new surroundings. The other is to attempt to remain true to its roots and return to its original homeland. This is the story of the soul as an individual. This same story is the national epic of the Jewish people. We are born as a nation into exile in Egypt, unable to attach to holiness. After finally tasting holiness in Eretz Yisroel, we then wander the world, trying to remain attached to our source, till the day we can return home.

This exile is not just a simple physical dislocation, but more basically is spiritual. There are four types of exile in the world. These are not just physical way stations as we travel through the world and return to our homeland, but each one represents a specific type of disconnection from HaShem. In Jewish thought these four types of exile are defined as the four kingdoms, which are represented by Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. In order to clarify what each one is, there is a need to define the different ways one is disconnected from HaShem.

The beginning of this disconnection is found in the events of the creation of the world. The original creation was completely connected to HaShem. However, when man is created, there is a need to allow him to choose. Therefore, a distance is created. This is presented in Bereishis as the river which leaves Eden and then divides into four tributaries. In the Midrash these four tributaries represent the four kingdoms mentioned above.

In the spiritual exile we find that there are four types of basic sins. Three types of them require a Jew to give up his life, rather than transgress. This is usually understood in a Halachic sense, that these sins are so severe that they override what is usually the cardinal Mitzvah of preserving one’s life. However, there is another approach to understanding the severity of these three transgressions. The purpose of life is to remain connected to HaShem. One who is physically alive but spiritually disconnected is missing the point of life. Therefore, these three cardinal sins are the complete spiritual disconnect from HaShem. They are the ultimate spiritual exile. In that way they are parallel to three of the kingdoms who are the representation of physical exile in the world.

  1. Babylon represents idol worship. Nebuchadnezzar erects a giant statue that all the nations of the world are to worship.

  2. Persia as the nation which acquiesces to Haman’s plot to kill all the Jewish people represents the cardinal sin of murder.

  3. Greece is the representation of licentiousness as defined by their edict that all Jewish women before their marriage must cohabit with the local Greek ruler.

The fourth nation is Rome. They represent the misuse of the power of speech which leads to disunity. This is described as Lashon HaRa which is parallel to all the other three. This is the greatest of all sins since it destroys the very fabric of a human that separates him from the animal, the power of speech. These are the four types of exile in the world, spiritually and physically.

These four sins are themselves only the outward manifestation of the twisted internal characteristics of such a person. The Mishnah in Avot says: Jealousy, honor, and physical desire remove a person from this world.

  1. Jealousy is the source of murder, the power of competition which brings a person to want to completely eradicate another human, because he is in your way.

  2. Honor is idol worship. The desire to want to worship idols stems from a person’s desire ultimately to honor himself. And therefore the Gemarra says anyone who has excess honor- haughtiness is as if he worshipped idols.

  3. Desire is the source of zenus- licentiousness.

  4. And Lashon HaRa is the essence of the person which is all of these together.

Within the Jewish people the antithesis of these deficiencies are the three Avot and Dovid, and they are represented by the four Mitzvoth of Pesach.

  1. Avrohom is the antidote to zenus as the Pasuk describes the tremendous Tznius between Avrohom and Sara, and the Mitzvah is the Matza, which is the opposite of physical pleasure.

  2. Yitzhchok is the antidote to idol worship as he brings himself as a sacrifice to HaShem. The Mitzvah is the bringing the Korban Pesach, the idol of Egypt.

  3. Yakov is the antidote to murder. He is the one chased by Eisav the world’s arch murdrer. This is the eating of the Maror since the Gematria of Maror is ‘Mavet’- death.

  4. Dovid is the antidote to Loshen HaRa since he turns his entire essence into a Tefila to HaShem, and completely uses his power of speech for good. This is the Mitzvah of retelling the Exodus, the use of speech correctly.

The Avot had begun this process of revelation of HaShem, but the exile to Egypt almost undid this process. As the Rambam writes in the beginning of Hilchos Avoda Zara, “and in a short moment the principle established by the Avot would have been lost”. The redemption from Egypt is to return us the heights of our Patriarchs, as the Ramban writes at the end of Shemot.

As Jewish people begin, they are meant to go through this process of reattaching to HaShem in all four ways. Originally as told to Avrohom, we were to go into Egypt for four hundred years which represents these four aspects, and then leave the exile and enter the Eretz Yisroel having reattached to HaShem despite the exile. Therefore the motif of the Seder, and the underlying theme of the Seder is the number four. But since we were unable to endure the entire process, we remain trapped in this situation, waiting to complete it.

One can apply the following scenario. Imagine a person who is severely burned. In order to heal correctly the doctors cannot allow scar tissue to form and they need to debride- scrape off- any scar tissue that forms. This is crucial to the healing process, but is extremely painful. The doctors need to ignore the agonizing cries of the patient. But, if as a result of the pain the patient begins to go onto shock and might die, they need to stop, even though later treatments will take longer, since a cure that kills the patient does not accomplish much at all. So too was the process of the Egyptian exile. Originally the ‘procedure’ was meant to be done to completion, even though it would be very painful. However, since it seemed that the ‘patient’ would expire, the procedure was suspended, to be completed over a longer period of time.

Therefore, we reenact the Exodus every year, to complete that process, a small bit at a time each year. Since there are four components to the Galus, the motif of the Seder revolves around this fourfold journey.

Magid begins with four questions. As we continue on through Magid, we meet four sons who also have four questions or lack of understanding of the Galus and Geulah. These questions of the four sons are also parallel to the four questions of the Hagadah. In reality, we are all the four sons in one person. Each of us has these doubts and questions at different times and in different ways. Therefore the answers to the four sons are also to each and every one of us.

These are also parallel to the aspects of the four exiles, and the specific Mitzvah that is performed with each of the four cups of wine. In addition they parallel the four aspects of a human: inanimate, vegetable, animal, and speech. (See chart at the end for a visual representation.)

  1. The first question is the wise son, who asks about the Mitzvoth, and therefore this question is about the Matzo. His lack of clarity which is his Galus, is to try to understand the un-understandable. He questions the idea that we end with the Matzo. We should end with something with a taste? The answer we give him is that the greatest connection To HaShem is submitting to His will, and that as much as we are wise, we still submit to HaShem. In the four cups this parallel to Kidush, sanctification and realizing that that as much as we know, there is holiness above us. This is the part of the person which is the ability to speak. This is parallel to Babylon which is idol worship, the inability to submit to HaShem.

  2. The question of the Maror is the evil son, who does not understand why there is bad in the world. He only wants to remove himself from any responsibility. The answer to him is Magid, to tell him the story of the redemption and therefore our responsibility to submit to HaShem. This therefore is the second cup upon which we retell the story of Pesach, and it is parallel to the part of the person which is animalistic. This is parallel to Persia, which is murder.

  3. The question of the reclining is of the simple son who all he sees is the simple physical changes of the reclining. As a result he does not see anything special and does not feel a need to praise HaShem in any way. It is a certain type of Ga’avah- haughtiness that does not allow seeing anything unique and therefore I have no obligations. In the cups, this is the third one, upon which we say Birchat HaMAzon, thanking HaShem for everything he gives us, and submitting to Him. This is the part of the person which is vegetable, with no feeling at all. This is parallel to Greece, which is Zenus, the complete involvement with the physical.

  4. And the dipping twice is to arouse the child who cannot even ask. This is the deepest of all the exiles, where we cannot see anything at all, but are so mired in darkness that we think it is actually light. This is the fourth cup, of opening the door and asking for the redemption from our enemies, and it is the part of the person which is parallel to the inanimate. This is the Galus we are in now, which s the deepest of all, the Galus of Lashon Hara of Edom.

And this is what we say in the Piyut of Parshas Hachodesh as we ask, “Let the four kingdoms be threshed.” This is the squeezing of the grapes to bring out the good in them. And that is why the final cup brings us to “Pour out your wrath on our enemies”, whch will happen when we calrify all four of these doubts within ourselves and the Jewish people.

(Hebrew sources below)

חכם

מצה

קידוש

בבל

ע”ז

יצחק

מדבר

כבוד

רשע

מרור

מגיד

פרס

ש”ד

יעקב

חי

קנאה

תם

הסיבה

ברה”מ

יון

ג”ע

אברהם

צומח

תאוה

שאינו יודע

טיבול

שפוך חמתך

אדום

לה”ר

דוד

דומם

 

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