Friday, April 18, 2008

Korban Pesach , Heseibah and Simple Jews

Rav Nosson of Breslov, zt”l taught that whenever we are about to begin serving G-d in earnest, we have to make haste—just as the original korban Pesach was eaten in haste, while later ones were not. At the start, we must detach ourselves from the worldly desires that entrap us. As soon as we feel the stirrings of inspiration to change, we must take advantage of the momentum and break out of the ties that bind us to the vanities of this world. Who knows if we will be given the opportunity again to make a radical break with our past behavior? Later, when we have already broken free to some extent, we can relax a bit and progress gradually—just as the Pesachim of later generations were unrushed.


The Imrei Emes zt”l asked a pointed question on Pesachim 99 which states that a poor person must do hesibah and drink the four cups during the Seder: How could we entertain the thought that a poor man is exempt from heseibah or the four cups? He’s a Jew, isn’t he? But since poverty here signifies poverty of the mind, and leaning during the meal represents mental freedom, harchavas hada’as, we can see why the Mishnah must clarify that even a “poor” Jewish man must recline while he eats. He must likewise drink all four cups of wine—for they parallel the four terms of redemption, and represent the four spiritual worlds of atzilus, beriyah, yetzirah, and asiyah. Even the most down-trodden Jewish soul reaches up and touches the highest of all worlds.

Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev zt”l once met a poor Jew, an apprentice, who had grown out his hair in imitation of the prevailing non-Jewish fashion.

“I’ll give you a gold piece if you’ll shave that chupchik off,” offered the tzaddik, but the man refused.

“I’ll give you five.”


“How about ten?” pushed the Rebbe.

“No thanks,” demurred the man.

“Twenty? Twenty-five gold pieces…” offered the Rebbe, but the man would not give in.

“If you cut your hair, I can promise you a place in the world to come!” exclaimed Rav Levi Yitzchak. At that, the man immediately agreed, and went to have it done.

Rav Levi Yitzchak raised his eyes to heaven, and said: “Master of the universe! This poor man is just an apprentice who slaves for months to earn twenty-five rubles. And what he was unwilling to do for twenty-five rubles, he raced to do for the promise of Your reward that he’s never seen in his life! Are these Jews not worthy of the world to come?!”

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