Passover 5784

Holiday #11 (342)

Passover 5784

April 22-29(30)

Come to ASCENT for "Pesach in Safed"

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From the Sages

The 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 by candlelight is Sunday evening, April 22, immediately after the evening prayers or as soon as it gets dark. 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, Thursday evening is also the last easily available time to sell your chometz to your local rabbi. We burn the chometz by late morning on Monday, spiritually destroying any remaining barriers between ourselves and the Divine.

MATZAH is eaten three times during the Seder, Monday night, April 23: (and outside of Israel also on Tuesday night, April 24).
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 if possible. If too difficult, try for less than 8. A tip to succeed is to not talk until you finish the whole portion!

To fulfill the commandment of eating matzah, it is strongly recommended to use shmurah matzah. What is shmurah? Ask your rabbi or go to

How much is one ounce of matzah?
Half a piece of hand-baked shmurah matzah is generally one ounce or a bit more.
If square, boxed matzot are used, one matzah is usually just over an ounce.



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