Blessed Seder Preparations
By Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman, the Piaseczno & Warsaw
[Translated by Binyomin Adilman for Shabbat Hagadol, the
Shabbat prior to Passover, from a letter from Rebbe Kalonymus Kalman to
his followers before Pesach 5699 (1939).]
MY DEAR ONES,
I am calling to you and speaking to your souls. The holy days of Pesach
are approaching. The holiness of these days pervades us thoroughly, inside
and out. Their light fills us and encompasses us. Light is like a seedling...
Nevertheless, it is stated, "Light is sown for the righteous, and
there is joy for the upright of heart" (Psalms 97:11). Light is like
a seedling. At the beginning it requires our nurturing and our efforts
to foster its growth. Like a field needs plowing and hoeing, weeding and
watering, so do we need to prepare ourselves before the festival. Without
the preparation, there can be no joy, no growth and no light. With all
the preparations needed for the festival, we must be careful not to divert
our attention from ourselves, not to forget to draw down the holiness
of the season. My joy is without bounds...
The main aspect of the festival is to be joyful - to praise and glorify
G d for all the miracles and all the goodness. This is actually the purpose
of the entire creation, and the essence of the relationship between the
earthly creation and the heavenly family above.
When the time comes for the Pesach evening prayer, you should rejoice
in your tremendous fortune, in the great privilege you have, to be engaged
in the divine service of Pesach. You should say to yourself, "My
joy is without bounds that I have been granted the opportunity to achieve
my purpose in the world and to be elevated to the upper spheres. My only
thought is to praise and glorify His great name, and to draw down the
Holy splendor of G d's light...
"True, I have my problems, both material and spiritual. But for
now I discard them; the entire world is no longer important to me. I even
nullify my own self, in order to stand in the company of angels, awaiting
the presence of G d. My only thought is to praise and glorify His great
name, and to draw down the holy splendor of G d's light into the world,
into my own soul and into the souls of my family."
Your joy should be so exalted that you feel that you can barely hold
yourself back from breaking into an ecstatic dance, leaping from the earth
to the heavens.
Afterwards, when you sit at the Seder table, you imagine yourself sitting
down to a festive meal in the Garden of Eden itself, participating in
the celebration of the final redemption. All of the aspects of the Seder-eating
the matzah and maror, drinking the four cups of wine, and reciting the
Haggadah, Hallel and other songs of praise-comprise a holy service to
G d. The angels above are crowded around to hear our praises of G d. Even
G d himself rejoices in delight, as is known from the esoteric literature,
as He receives our praise and song. Love for your fellow Jew . . . is
the hinge on which all divine service revolves . . .
A Jew has the ability to feel G d's delight with each word that he utters
from the Haggadah. He is imbued with such holiness that he is replete
with sorrow when he finishes each word; if only he could go back and recite
the Hallel another 1000 times, he would do so. His whole being is at one
with his Creator as he recites words of incredible sweetness, the Haggadah
lying open in front of him. One must endeavor to provide sanctuary for
the holiness of this night, so that it will abide by him for the whole
year. . . .
Continue to foster your love for your fellow Jew, for that is the hinge
on which all divine service revolves. . . .
I bless you with . . . a kosher and joyous Pesach.
Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman, known as the Piaseczno Rebbe
(may G d avenge his death!), was murdered at the hands of the Nazis in
the Warsaw Ghetto. His works include Aish Kodesh, Chovot haTalmidim
and Bnei Machshavah Tovah.
Rabbi Binyomin Adilman is the head of Nishmas Chayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem,
and also the author of a very interesting, but sporadically published,
weekly parsha sheet, B'ohelei Tzadikim, from which this article
was taken. Their website has some back issues.