Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Joy of Being Jewish

In order not to be construed as chillul Shabbos, the korban Pesach must be slaughtered “for its own name,” for its own sake and not as any other kind of sacrifice. It must be, in the words of Rav Tzadok HaKohen zt”l, “meyuchas,” or linked by name to its origins. Pesach alludes to our chosen status as a people, expressed in Hashem’s “jumping” over our homes in Goshen, a manifestation of His “having mercy on us,” as rendered by the Targum. We relive the redemption through the korban Pesach, how Hashem distinguished us from every other nation and made us into meyuchasim. This clarifies why the korban itself must be meyuchas l’shem Pesach to be valid—it is the statement of “shelo asani goy” for the entire Jewish people!

One morning, the Chassidim noticed that the holy Chozeh of Lublin zy”a refrained from saying the blessing, “She’lo asani goy…” during the morning prayers. They were dumbfounded by this apparently inconsistent behavior, but didn’t have the nerve to ask the Chozeh for an explanation. After Shacharis, the Rebbe turned to his followers and said, “I’m sure that you are all wondering why I failed to say the brochah she’lo asani goy’ this morning, and so I will tell you my secret. I already said it early this morning when I woke up.

“As soon as I awoke, I did my usual cheshbon hanefesh but I was dismayed to find myself without a single merit to my credit! I felt like the lowest of the low, the very worst person in the world. But, just then, I found a way to console myself. I said to myself, ‘I am still a Jew! I may not act the way I should, but I am still so blessed that I am not a goy!’ My heart overflowed with joy, and I immediately made the blessing right then and there!”

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