From the Sages
Sh'lah Hakodesh writes that
all of the actions we do at the Passover Seder are indications of our freedom,
and not just the freedom of our bodies but of our souls. We have been redeemed
from within the klipot, the 'husks', the place where we were slaves to
the temporal perspective by virtue of our lack of consciousness of the hidden
true reality. In the days of the Egyptian exile we had become sunk in the 49th
(out of 50) level of impurity. Today each person is stuck in his or her own unique
set of difficulties. On the night of Pesach this is reversed and we are taken
out, to freedom. We are overcome with the joy of the mitzvahs, rejoicing in each
of the details of the seder, like a person released from prison overcome by the
desire to dance. All the mitzvahs and customs constitute our dance.
From the Masters of Kabbalah
In the early
book of Kabbala, The Worm Of Yaacov, it is written that the four cups of
wine that we drink on the Seder night correspond to separate stages of deliverance
from the four husks. This is why our forefather Yaacov feared to go to Egypt until
the Holy One Blessed be He said to him [ Gen.46:3-4] "Do not be afraid.... I will
go down with you and I will most certainly go out with you." This is an eternal
promise that whenever we go into exile the divine presence is with us and that
when the Almighty comes to redeem Himself, He redeems all of Israel with Him.
In each case and particularly Pesach, when the redemption arrives, the Almighty
requires the destruction of the husks, the coverings of the truth. This is the
reason the Jewish people were given two commandments on the eve of their departure
from Egypt. The first was the offering of the Pascal lamb, the first level of
the destruction of the husks: the destruction of the false gods of our enemies.
The second was circumcision, to remove the foreskin from ourselves, which is also
like a husk that conceals. Each year, as we come closer to Pesach, we have to
put ourselves through this dual process again. That is why we were commanded to
drink four cups of wine, while reclining, like kings. Just as the juice of the
grape was contained within its skin and then released to become wine, so also
we have been released from the 4 husks, also referred to as the foreskin of Egypt.
And before drinking the 4th cup we complete the recital of Hallel, the
song of thanksgiving, because with the conclusion of the seder we have become
servants of G-d rather than the slaves of Pharaoh.
From the Rebbes
To enter into the unique sanctity of Passover, we
must first prepare ourselves by removing and then destroying all of the chometz,
that it not be seen and not be found in our homes and by extension, in our lives.
Then, when Pesach arrives, we may go from darkness to light. What is this chometz?
Physical chometz is even the smallest particle of any leavened product or leavening
agent. Spiritually, chometz is like leavened breads and cakes which are puffed
up and extra tasty. It is the pride and haughtiness that insinuate themselves
into all aspects of our daily lives leaving no space to love or truly acknowledge
anything outside of ourselves, particularly G-d. To get back to the true reality,
that G-d is the boss and that all of our accomplishments are through Him (and
even failures-depression is also a dimension of pride!), once in a while we have
to purge ourselves. This is why, once a year, when the eve of Pesach comes, we
have to check for physical and spiritual chometz and eradicate it, even in its
most minute quantities.
This process is embodied in the 'cleaning' that goes on for weeks before
the holiday, the search for chometz that takes place the final evening
before Pesach, and the burning of the results of our search on the following
morning (see your Hagadah). And then for seven (or eight, outside of Israel)
days, we guard ourselves and our homes that we will not see or possess
any chometz. vbb v
This is integrally connected to the eating of Matza, unleavened
bread, at the seder. The Zohar calls matzo both bread of faith, and bread
of health. Faith, because once we have cleansed ourselves of all of the
chometz, matzo gives us the ability to experience G-d in the world; Health,
because from this place of faith, all true health is rooted. Without salt and
leaven it is "bread of the poor", helping us to become humble so that
the faith and healing can enter. (Based on Likutei Sichot)
Some Laws and Customs
The search for chometz is Thursday evening, April 5, immediately
after the evening prayers. It is not only a physical search but a spiritual
one also. We must check ourselves for pride-spiritual leaven-the great
separator between man and G-d. If you have not yet done so, Sunday evening
is also the last easily available time to sell your chometz to your local
rabbi. We burn the chometz by late morning on Friday, spiritually
destroying any remaining barriers between ourselves and the Divine.
Matzah is eaten three times during the Seder:
1. After telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt - motzi matzah
- two ounces of matzah are eaten
2. For the sandwich - korech - one ounce of matzah is eaten;
3. For the afikoman at the end of the meal - tzafun - 1½
ounces of matzah are eaten.
In each instance, the
matzah should be eaten within 4 minutes.
To fulfill the commandment of eating
matzah, it is strongly recommended to use shmurah matzah. What is shmurah?
Ask your rabbi or go to www.passover.net.
How much is one ounce of matzah?
Half a piece of hand-baked shmurah matzah is generally one ounce or a bit
If square, boxed matzot are used, one matzah is usually just over an
last year's Pesach page
more Kabbalah insights on Pesach