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Haftarah: Melachim II 7:3-20

APRIL 22-30, 2016 15-22 NISAN 5776

Rosh Hodesh Nisan will be celebrated on Shabbat, April 9.


"And I said to you: Live by your blood, live by your blood." (Haggadah shel Pesah - Yechezkel 16:6)

In the song of Dayenu in the Haggadah we say, "Even if Hashem had only brought us to Mount Sinai without giving us the Torah, that itself would have sufficed to feel indebted to Him." These are familiar words, but their meaning remains unclear. What lasting benefit would we have gained from merely standing in the presence of Har Sinai?

On the verse "Hashem miSinai ba" (Debarim 33:2) our Sages ask, what was the origin of Mount Sinai? They answer that initially it was part of the peak upon which our ancestor Yitzhak was bound for the Akedah. It was part of Mt. Moriah. Hashem then decided that such a mountain would be the ideal location to give the Torah nearly four hundred years later. Therefore, a section was moved to the wilderness for the Revelation (Yalkut Eliezer).

The implication is unmistakable. Hashem was teaching Israel that in order to remain faithful to their tradition a vital prerequisite was a willingness to emulate Yitzhak, to submit completely to the wishes of Hashem come what may. Hence, merely to stand in front of that mountain and ponder upon its message was itself of great value even without receiving the actual details of the Torah.

On reflection, it could well be that our attachment to religion nowadays is weaker than that of our grandparents for that very reason. Previous generations had to fight and make sacrifices for their beliefs, and this fortified their observance. We, however, are not tested to the same extent, leaving us less resolute and more vulnerable.

Perhaps therein lies the reason why Pesah always held a special place in most Jewish homes. Pesah is observed to a degree by every family and retains a favored place in the Jewish calendar. The explanation must surely be that it is the festival that taxes us most! The work needed to clean the house properly beforehand, the disruption of our staple diet, the extra expense on food, pots and cooking utensils, all these challenges negotiated over the centuries by our ancestors have borne fruit with their descendants. Their exertion and sacrifice have baked Pesah into our bones so that its observance remains widespread even amongst the less committed.

The prophet Yechezkel probably had this theme in mind when he said in reference to the Children of Israel before the Exodus, "Live by your blood, live by your blood." When Hashem searched for a merit that would entitle the Jews to be redeemed and reborn as a nation, it was their blood, the blood of sacrifice shed by them over the ages and also the blood of milah and Korban Pesah. This blood was not lost - on the contrary, it would rejuvenate them and create the Chosen Nation. Happy Holiday. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"G-d has bestowed many favors upon us." (Passover Haggadah)

Gratitude and appreciation are virtues that are not simply praiseworthy, they are essential traits. On the Seder night we are enjoined to recount the many wonders and miracles that Hashem wrought for us. Ibn Ezra contends that appreciation goes a step further. We are to remember how it used to be, how we suffered, the pain and affliction to which we were subjected, the thirst and hunger which accompanied us and the depression and hopelessness that ruled our lives. Hashem rescued us from all that. He took us out of misery, granting us the opportunity to live as free people.

Harav Mordechai Gifter, shlita, explains that one must appreciate and give gratitude where it is due. Does one, however, analyze the good that he has received? Does one ever think about what life would have been like had he not been saved? Do we ever really evaluate the good? Do we simply say, "Thank you," and continue with "business as usual?" One must remember what it had been like; think back to the days of misery and pain, feel some of the frustration and grief that used to be so much a part of his life. Then and only then will he truly understand the essence of the favor he has received. All too quickly we pay our respects to our benefactor and forget about him. If we pay more attention to our past we might more fully appreciate the present.

This, according to Harav Gifter, is the purpose of the Dayenu format of the Haggadah. We must delve deeper into the "good" that we have received, reviewing it, analyzing every aspect of it, so that we will experience greater appreciation at the present time. Let us appreciate all that we have so that we may merit to be blessed continuously. Happy Pesah.

Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

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A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

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