Torah Fax

Friday, April 22, 2005 - 13 Nissan, 5765

Torah Reading: Acharei (Leviticus 16:1 - 18:30) 
Candle Lighting time: 7:24 PM
*Burn chametz:Fri, 4/ 22 before 12:55 pm
*Eat final chametz:Shab, 4/23 before 10:37 am
*Destroy final chametz:Shabbat, 4/23 before 11:45 am
*Yom Tov Candle lighting, 4/23 (from a pre-existing flame):after 8:28 pm
*Begin Seder after 8:28 pm
*Yom Tov Candle lighting, 4/24 (from a pre-existing flame): after 8:29 pm
*Begin Seder after 8:29 pm
*First days of Yom Tov end 4/25:8:30 PM
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Of Passover and Poverty
We begin our recitation of the Haggadah with the declaration:  "This is the bread of affliction our fathers ate in the Land of Egypt." 
This statement is followed by an invitation to the hungry and needy to join us for the Seder. We conclude this introductory paragraph with the confident affirmation: "This year we are here, next year in the Land of Israel; this year we are slaves, next year we will be free."
Commentators ask why the Haggadah begins with a statement about the "Bread of Afflict ion?"  Furthermore, they ask, the reason given here for eating Matzah appears to be at odds with the reason the Torah itself gave us for eating Matzah. We eat Matzah, the Torah informs us, because it was what the Jews ate when they left Egypt! They left in such haste, that they did not have time to allow their dough to rise. As a result, they ate Matzah. And indeed, the Haggadah highlights this very reason further on. Yet here, at the beginning of the Seder, the Haggadah stresses the fact that they ate Matzah (the Bread of Affliction) while they were still in Egypt! Is Matzah a symbol of affliction or a symbol of freedom?
We also have to understand the connection between the first statement that deals with the Matzah and the second statement that is an invitation to the hungry, as well as the connection between the second statement and the third statement that declares our trust in the imminent redemption.
To resolve all these difficulties we must understand that the primary manifestation of exile-the Exodus from which we celebrate during Passover-is its spiritual impoverishment. Were we to overcome these spiritual deficits and impediments, we would discover the power we have to break out of physical enslavement as well. And when one is blessed with physical freedom, they cannot truly feel and be free without overcoming the spiritual form of exile.
When the Jewish people were taken out of Egyptian bondage, their freedom was a qualified one because they took their "bread of affliction," their spiritual poverty, with them. And for thousands of years, we have sought to internalize the Exodus and allow for the spiritual form of freedom to either "catch up" with the physical freedom we enjoy, or to be the force that will unlock the gates of exile and bring about physical freedom.
In order to get out of "Egyptian Bondage" in our own day and age, it does not suffice to merely recall the events of the past. It is not even sufficient to relive the Exodus by generating the energy to go out of exile, but it is also imperative that we work at taking the exile mentality out of us. Thus, the statement about the "Bread of Affliction" is followed by another statement that speaks of the hungry and needy that we have invited to the Seder. The hunger that we experience and confront at the Seder is a reflection of the soul's hunger and thirst to be free. When we realize the source of the problem-our spiritual poverty-we are empowered to deal with it and ultimately engage in an "anti-poverty" campaign, beginning with ourselves. 
Thus the three parts of this introductory paragraph are interconnected. First we declare the root cause of our existence in exile; it is due to the "bread of affliction" that we took with us even as we were being liberated. This is followed by the invitation to the hungry as a way of drawing a parallel between physical hunger and spiritual hunger. And finally, we conclude with a declaration that by participating in the Passover experience we will ultimately succeed in taking the exile out of ourselves, and then we will truly be free.
We are living in a time that the entire world is moving in the direction of democracy and freedom. This drive for political freedom is a manifestation of our proximity to the Messianic Redemption when our souls will be totally free. Our challenge during this Season of our Freedom is to fight poverty on all levels.
Let us dedicate this holiday to the pursuit of greater awareness of our Jewish soul's needs. Let us break out of the shackles of ignorance and indifference to G‑d, our fellow Jew, humanity, and indeed our own soul. By liberating our spirit, we will realize the end of the opening paragraph of the Haggadah: "This year we are here, next year in the Land of Israel; this year we are servants, next year we will be free!
Moshiach Matters
If the Jewish people are found worthy as a result of their teshuva and good deeds, and have completely separated the good from the evil in the universe so that all the holy sparks that had fallen amongst the kelipot have been extricated, then the Redemption will come before "the time of the end," of which the angel speaks to Daniel (Shaarei Ora of the Mitteler Rebbe)
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