We usually wish people a Chag Sameach and Kasher – a Happy and Kosher Pesach. This year want I want to wish you a Mindfulness Pesach. Mindfulness is all the rage.
Let this Pesach be a spiritual awakening?
The Pesach Seder is a night of Connection. An Opportunity to pass on the Tradition to our Kids including our adult children. How do get them inspired and connected to what Judaism has to offer?
How can we make Judaism alive, vibrant and relevant?
How can we make this a Night of Spiritual Awakening?
The Seder is all about Symbols and Actions.
- The Afikomen
- The Ten Plagues
- The 4 Questions
- The 4 Cups
- The 4 Sons
- Opening the Door, the Elijah Hanavi
- The Songs at the End
The story of the Jews leaving Egypt is one of the greatest Stories ever ingrained in a people, it is etched in our memory and daily prayers. It is used by people worldwide as a calling of Freedom – Let My People go.
So, let’s meditate on this.
Matza is a symbol of hardship, hopelessness. Who has not felt despair over the last Covid19 year? We all have been made to feel vulnerable, putting our salvation in science. We can ask God – what is the purpose of this Pandemonic? Why are you hiding?
We are praying that you reveal yourself. Praying that we can grow from these experiences to be a better person. Praying for Redemption, Freedom, and your presence to shine.
Selected Reb Shlomo Carlebach insights on the night of Pesach
Elijah Hanavi – Eye Opening
“So why is Sh’foch haMatcha (our declaration that God should pour out His Wrath on our “enemies”) right next to our welcoming Eliyahu haNavi, in the Passover Seder? Because we are reminding ourselves that when Eliyahu haNavi comes through that door, he will be announcing the coming of the Messiah. And when the Messiah comes, the Holy One will turn the clock backwards. And it will suddenly appear to us as if we were never in exile, to begin with, that the Temple was never destroyed, and we will see Cain standing over his brother Abel, begging him to open his eyes. And Abel really will open his eyes.
“And when the Messiah comes, all of the Nations of the world will be standing over the six million, begging them, “Please open your eyes.” All the nations of the world will also be standing over the Jews who perished in the Inquisitions, asking, “Please open your eyes.” And on that Great Day, all of those Jews really will open their eyes, they will get up and once again return to Life. And so, while we are obligated to hate Evil (but not to hate people), and to anticipate seeing Evil destroyed forever, at the Seder and always we are really asking God that He should only pour out His Warmth (the original Hebrew could also mean “Wrath”), His love and Kindness to all of the Nations of the world.”
Our children don’t talk to us sometimes because they think we really don’t see them. Pesach has so much to do with seeing. “Lo yeiraeh lecha chametz”. “You shall not see chametz” – don’t see chametz. People who look at chametz all the time, don’t see their own neshama (soul), don’t see their own children, don’t see G-d. Seder night, when there is no chametz in the house when the house is clean, then suddenly G-d gives me the vision of seeing my children again, of seeing how they really are and how fast they can reach the highest level.
The saddest day in the life of children is when they are disappointed in their parents. When babies are born, it is clear to them that their parents are the best people in the world. They cannot imagine anybody being better than their father and their mother. Sadly, they grow up and they realize that their parents aren’t the best. They don’t want to talk to us anymore.
Seder night the Ribono Shel Olam gives my children back the vision to see, even though at this moment I am not the best I can be, what I really am, and how fast it will take me to get there. And, then my children are so happy, they love me so much again because it is restoring their vision, the way they remember me.
The Night of Learning Patience
The night of Pesach is called in the bible ‘Leyl Shimurim’, the night of the guarding, the night of watching. According to our mystical tradition, G-d is giving back to us all the things we thought we had lost. On Seder night we are getting back all the holy moments we had in our lives. All the great prayers, all the beautiful moments that we thought we had lost. On that holy night, we suddenly know that G-d was guarding them, and they are there.
You know what it is? When you put a little seed in the soil you might think it’s lost. You look at it for a few days … nothing happens. If you could possibly look right through the soil and see it’s completely disintegrating, then you would say ‘oy… forget it, I wasted my time. But wait wait wait, a tree is growing. So since according to us, the spiritual and the physical of the divine is all one, Pesach is the time when G-d is showing us that G-d is guarding this little seed. G-d is guarding it, even while the seed was disintegrating G-d watched it even more so.
So, when you meet people who are completely disintegrating, tell them don’t give up, tell them they are just growing.
MAGGID! (Saying the Haggadah)
There is a famous Chassidic story about a man who got drunk and missed the Seder. Here is Reb Shlomo’s Version.
Let me tell you my most favorite Pesach story. After one Seder with Rav Tzvi Elimelech, the Chassidim got together and said, “Rebbe, there is nobody who makes a Seder like you.” Rav Tzvi Elimelech said, “Let me tell you something. Moshele, the water carrier’s Seder was the best Seder, this year, in the world. I’ll let him tell you tomorrow what he did.”
The next day, after davening, the Chassidim went up to Moshele the water carrier and said, “The Rebbe wants to see you.” Moishele came before the Rebbe, and he began to cry bitterly. He said, if ‘Rebbe, I’ll never do it again. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me.” He was crying. The Rebbe said, “Listen, Moishele, just tell us what you did.”
Now, I always tell my friends that basically we Jews are not so much into drinking. But, in every city, there is one Jew who drinks for all in that city. Then, there is some kind of higher drunkard, who drinks for the Jews of that country. And then, there are some lamed vov drunkards who drink for all the Jews of that generation. And then, there are some drunkards who drink for all the Jews from Avraham Avinu until Moshiach. Anyway, this Moishe, the drunkard, was a lamed vovnik. His greatest joy in life was drinking. The saddest thing is, on Pesach you can’t drink whiskey. So, he had a tremendous idea. He’ll stay up the whole night, erev Pesach, and he’ll be drunk for the rest of Pesach, he’ll be drunk right thru. Anyway, he drank, and even a drunkard who is a religious Jew knows that ten minutes after nine, on Pesach, you stop. He stopped exactly, and he was out.
Seder night, his wife came to wake him up and said, “Moshele, it’s really not fair. Every Jew has a Seder. Every house has a Seder. We have little children, and we don’t have a Seder. So, what’s going on here?” And, he said, “By then, did I regret that I drank so much at night. Did I regret it! I would have done anything not to be drunk. But I couldn’t help it. I said, ‘Please wake me up in an hour. I just can’t get it together yet.’ Anyway, my wife kept waking me up every hour, every half-hour. Then, suddenly, she came to me and said, ‘Moishele, in five minutes, five minutes, it’s gone. You didn’t have anything, and the children are waiting.’ “Gevalt”. He said, “was I broken. Here, my children are so holy, and I am such a lousy father, I didn’t even give them a Seder. So, I said to my wife, ‘Please, call my children.’ She called the children in and I said to them, ‘Please, sit very close to me on my bed. I have to talk to you. I want you to know, children, that I am so sorry that I drank. I am so sorry that I am a drunkard. But I want you to know that if my drinking can make me not have a Seder with you, then it’s not worth it.’ So, I said to my children, ‘I swear to you, Seder night, tonight, that I’ll never drink again. But, right now, it’s Seder night, I am so sorry, we didn’t eat matza, we didn’t eat maror. But, let me just tell you the Pesach story, in a nutshell.'”
Moishele said to the Rebbe, “You know, I was still drunk. But I tried my best. I said, ‘Children, I want you to know that G-d created heaven and earth in seven days. And I want you to know that Adam was thrown out of Paradise the first day. Then everything went downhill. There was a flood, there was a tower of Babylon; that was as much as I knew. Then came Avraham. He began fixing the world again. Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, and his twelve holy sons. Then Pharaoh made slaves out of us, and tonight, G-d took us out from Egypt.
And, I said, children, I want you to swear to me right now, that you’ll always know that the same G-d who took us out from Egypt is still alive. It’s the same G-d. Whenever a Jew cries to G-d, G-d always hears our prayers and takes us out from all our troubles.‘”
“Rebbe, I’m so sorry. I couldn’t say anything more because I was still drunk. I turned over and I fell asleep again.”
So, the heilege (holy) Reb Tzvi Elimelech was crying bitter tears. He said to his Chassidim, “Did you hear that? Did you hear that? I wish that one time in my life, I should be privileged to give over Yiddishkeit to my children, the way Moishele the water carrier gave it over to his children Seder night.” Gevalt.
Wishing you a mindfulness Pesach!