Archive for March, 2010


March 22, 2010

In another week, Pesasch. Most Jewish families, especially here in Israel, will come together, eat matzah, drink wine, and recite the hagada. Unfortunately, for many, it is nothing more than a ceremony, a recital of words that once might have been meaningful, but now don’t seem to have much application.  That’s unfortunate, because understood correctly, the hagada takes us to the highest places. It makes the night come alive…

Some people make it come alive for themselves by making up their own hagada. Hagada is from the word, lehagid, meaning “to tell.” So, some people tell their own story of freedom. It has meaning, but it’s not the meaning of the night of Pesach, which is a reliving of the Jewish national moment, when we were freed from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, the “land of limitations.”

There are three or four main things to do on the night of Pesach, this year, March 29 (Monday). First and foremost, refrain from eating or using any leavened bread, cake, or other carbs made of grain, unless it is matza, or unleavened bread without yeast, baked within eighteen minutes of kneading. It’s a flat bread, without taste, without character, but full of spirituality. It’s symbolizes our state of ego-lessness on this night, when there is full revelation of G-dliness. Eating matza – lotsa matza – is an obligation on the first (and second, if you are outside of Israel) night of Pesach.

Second, drink four cups of wine. They symbolize our freedom – freedom from the personal and national limitations that prevent us from getting closer to the One above.  While doing the above – eating matza and drinking wine – lean.  Lean on a pillow to your left, because that’s what a free person does; he feels free to lean and relax.  In our seder, things are crowded, so we lean on each other (men on men, women on women).  There’s a lesson in that; we need each other. We need to rely on each other, no Jew can do everything himself or herself. So, lean on me, lean on your neighbor, lean on another Jew, til you get what you need…and be prepared to be leaned on, because you too have what to offer.

And finally, talk! The name of the holiday is Pesach; the peh (“mouth”) sach (“speaks”).  So, talk it out – the exodus from Egypt was a momentous affair. In fact, you might say that it was traumatic. It was sudden and unexpected. So, talk it out, until you integrate it and understand it, take it fully inside. But, do so from within the – that’s where the light is hidden. By talking, you reveal the light. So much so, that once when the morning came, the sages continued talking about the exodus even though the time had come to pray. By them, it was daytime all night long, they brought down so much light they didn’t recognize the difference between night and day.

When you talk enough, you’ll realize the night is so high, you don’t have full grasp of what going on,  spiritually. That’s one of the tricks of the hagada. It only looks like it’s explaining things; in reality, it’s asking things. It’s putting you into the position of being the asker. You think that you’re explaining to your child, your son. No, you are becoming the asker, the one who wants to know. And we are all children before the One above. So, eat, drink, and tell the story – and lean on me (another Jew) – because we all need each other to get the full impact of the events.

There’s much more here…if you want the details, go to our website, at   This is one of those situations where the details will be very helpful…

Dedicated and Real in the Old City

March 15, 2010

I love commenting on current events in Jerusalem. Especially when they are happening right outside of our windows. Last night, right across the square, was the inauguration of the huge and impressive rebuilt Hurva synagogue.  There was a multimedia presentation on the side of the shul, and great music was played as well.  I hope to post photos and video of the event here on the blog…

In the meantime, I realized that tonite, the first night of the month of Nissan, occurred a dedication of another sort. The mishkan, or traveling tabernacle in the desert, was also dedicated on the first of Nissan. Nissan is just the month, when it starts to come down from Above to below, and effect our lives, and that’s what the tabernacle did as well, bringing vision and experience of G-dliness straight to the Jewish soul.  But, to begin with, it did it in a funny way. What do I mean by that?

Well, usually when you undertake a new activity (and the tabernacle was a new activity, during which G-dliness was first presented to mankind in a reliable, permanent fashion), you learn the principles and adopt them slowly, adding details as you go along. You learn the principles step by step, and you fill in the details as you go along.  In the tabernacle, it was just the opposite. You were hit first with the details, and only slowly after that, you picked up the principles in the course of time.  That was evident on the first day of the inauguration, because the building wasn’t even complete, and yet the priests were already using the various vessels; the menorah, the table and the altars. That is, they launched into the details of how to use the tabernacle even before it was fully built.  That’s because sometimes, you can’t wait until you understand the principles. Sometimes, you just have to “dive in.”

Want to know more?  Want details?  Go to our website, at  You’ll be duly edified, G-d willing!

More Edifice Complex

March 10, 2010

What’s more important, your tools, or your house?

It probably varies from person to person, but for one category of people, their tools are definitely more important.
If you are traveling, then your tools of trade probably mean more to you than where you’re resting your head tonite. On the other hand, if you have decided where you belong and do not plan on moving, then your house is likely to be more important to you than your tools.
In a nutshell, that is the difference between the Tabernacle in the desert (about which we read in this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei), and the holy Temples that stood on the Temple mount.
While the Jews traveled, first in the desert, and then while conquering their own land, the Tabernacle was important. It was the “tool” with which they brought down G-dliness to the world. But, when they finally reached the “inheritance” – the final resting place of G-d’s presence (Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount) – the House became paramount. That’s why only the Temples earned the name “house,” while the Tabernacle was called a “tent.” If you want more detail, check out our website, at
Next week, the new Hurva synagogue will be inaugurated here in the old city of Jerusalem. It dominates the Jewish quarter, but it’s not a House. It’s an edifice. It’s time to get ready for the real thing, the House on the mountain…much more to say, but the main thing is action, reaching out to another Jew!