Thursday, March 15, 2012

Today's Pesach Stories: Seeking the Laws of Pesach; Chametz and Matzah

1) The Rebbe of Sanz-Klausenberg, shlit"a, gave a very inspiring talk. "The Rokeach writes that one should prepare himself with cheshbon hanefesh and teshuvah before fulfilling a mitzvah; he should beg Hashem that he merit to do the mitzvah as is fitting, without feelings of self-aggrandizement. Some would even fast before fulfilling certain mitzvos. The reason for these extra exertions is because a mitzvah done with genuine feeling as it should be makes huge rectifications in the upper worlds. Obviously there are many barriers that block the way of the person who wishes to reach this pinnacle. The least we can do before performing a mitzvah is to beg Hashem for help. "Now we can understand why every tractate in the Talmud begins with a shaar blatt, a page with a gateway, and then starts on a page marked as number two. Tzaddikim always petition Hashem for help to learn and do mitzvos. They plead with Hashem: 'I know in my heart that I am not as I should be. I have done much wrong. Nevertheless, You Hashem are gracious and merciful. I therefore plead with You to help me serve You in truth.' The first page is the gateway: we enter into the gates of learning Torah lishmah by begging Hashem for His aid. Only after entering this gateway can we begin the actual tractate on page two. "This is the meaning of the words of our sages that thirty days before the holiday one should begin studying the laws of Pesach. The language used there is,שואלין ודורשין בהלכות הפסח, which literally means to ask about and seek the halachos of Pesach. This indicates our asking Hashem for help. דורשין should also be understood in the context of verse, 'דרשו ה' בהמצאו'—'Seek Hashem when He is to be found,' since this alludes to seeking aid from Hashem. When learning hilchos Pesach, we must beseech Hashem for help to avoid the slightest trace of chometz and that we merit to fulfill the many mitzvos of the holiday properly." #2) The Hagaddah Ishei Yisrael writes:“Our sages teach that matzah must be made from one of the five grains, since only the five grains can become chometz. Matzah may not be made from other species since, although something happens when they are left, it is not the same chemical process as leavening. Instead of becoming chometz, other species ferment or spoil. Rav Yisrael of Modzhitz, zt”l, explained the practical lesson from this as follows: rice and other substances that cannot become chometz represent the person who is in the grips of depression. Even if in his lethargy he doesn’t sin outright and does do good when he moves at all, his mitzvos are spoiled. These acts are done out of depression and lack vitality. Like a spoiled thing, the depressed person sits on his couch and goes through life in spiritual slumber. He feels certain that he has done all that is incumbent upon him in avodas Hashem. He added, “But a person with a joyous heart is the exact opposite. He is filled with inner happiness and strength. Although such a person is more susceptible to sinning because the yetzer hara wants especially to bring such a person down, if he stays joyous he is freed. As the verse states, 'כי בשמחה תצאון'—‘For you shall go out [of exile] in joy…’ As long as he acts for holiness in whatever way he can, he will never come to the chometz of sins. This can be compared to dough that cannot become chometz as long as it is worked.”

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