Friday, March 22, 2013

The Freedom of Passover and Man's best friend

Focus on the Almighty's Gifts

Whenever your mind is free, make a conscious effort to focus on the good that the Almighty has bestowed upon you.

Love Yehuda Lave

 A man and his dog were walking along a road. The
 man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to
 him that he was dead.   

 He remembered dying, and that the dog walking
 beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the
 road was leading them. 

 After a while, they came to a high, white stone
 wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble.
 At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that
 glowed in the sunlight. 
 When he was close enough, he called out,
 "Excuse me, where are we?"
 "This is Heaven, sir," the man
 "Wow! Would you happen to have some
 water?" the man asked.
 "Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll
 have some ice water brought right up."

    The man gestured, and the gate began
 to open.
 "Can my friend," gesturing toward his
 dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked.

 "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept
 The man thought a moment and then turned back
 toward the road and continued the way he had been going with
 his dog.
 After another long walk, and at the top of
 another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a
 farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There
 was no fence.   
 As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside,
 leaning against a tree and reading a book.

 "Excuse me!" he called to the man.
 "Do you have any water?"
 "Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there,
 come on in."  
 "How about my friend here?" the
 traveler gestured to the dog.
 "There should be a bowl by the
 They went through the gate, and sure enough,
 there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

 The traveler filled the water bowl and took a
 long drink himself, then he gave some to the
 When they were full, he and the dog

 Walked back toward the man who was standing by
 the tree.
 "What do you call this place?" the
 traveler asked.
 "This is Heaven," he
 "Well, that's confusing," the
 traveler said. "The man down the road said that was
 Heaven, too."
 "Oh, you mean the place with the gold street
 and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell"

 "Doesn't it make you mad for them to use
 your name like that?"
 "No, we're just happy that they screen
 out the folks who would leave their best friends

 Soooo ...

 Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding
 jokes to us without writing a word.
    Maybe this will

    When you are very busy, but still
 want to keep in touch, guess what you do? You forward jokes.


 When you have nothing to say, but still want to
 keep contact, you forward jokes.

 When you have something to say, but don't
 know what, and don't know how, you forward jokes.


 Also to let you know that you are still remembered, you are still important,
 you are still
 loved, you are
 still cared for, guess what you get?


 A forwarded joke.

 So, next time if you get a joke, don't think
 that you've been sent just another forwarded joke, but
 that you've been
 thought of today and your friend on the other end of your
 computer wanted to send you a smile.


 You are all welcome @ my water bowl

There are five mitzvot (commandments) for the Passover Seder, two from the Torah and three from our Sages. The two mitzvot from the Torah are to eat matza ("In the evening you shall eat unleavened bread" -- Exodus 12:18) and to tell the story of our exodus from Egypt ("And you shall relate to your son [the story of the Exodus] on this day" -- Exodus 13:9). The rabbis added the mitzvot of drinking the four cups of wine, eating marror (bitter herbs) and reciting Hallel (Psalms of praise for the Almighty). During the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, there were 16 additional mitzvot associated with the Pesach offering.
All of these commandments are to help us re-experience the Exodus and to feel and strengthen our sense of freedom. The mitzvot are to experience either the affliction or the redemption.
The matza is called "lechem ani" -- the bread of the poor man and "lechem oni" -- the bread of affliction. It has the dual symbolism of representing our affliction (we ate it while slaves) and our redemption (we hastily made matza to eat when we left Egypt).
The four cups of wine represent the four different terms for our redemption in the Torah (Exodus 6:6-7). Wine is the drink of free men! Bitter herbs is affliction (just look at the faces of those eating horseradish!) And Hallel is our thanks to the Almighty for our redemption and freedom.
Passover is the "Holiday of Freedom" -- spiritual freedom. The Almighty brought us out of Egypt to serve Him and to be free. Isn't this a contradiction? What is the essence of freedom?
Is freedom the ability to do what one desires unhampered and without consequence? That is license, not freedom. James Bond had a "license to kill," not the freedom to kill. Freedom means having the ability to use your free will to grow and to develop.
Our leaving Egypt led us to Mt. Sinai and the acceptance upon ourselves the yoke of Torah. This is the centerpiece of our freedom. It sets the boundaries of right and wrong, it sets forth the means to perfect ourselves and the world we live in, it defines ultimate meaning and satisfaction in life. Only with boundaries does one have the ability to grow and develop. Otherwise, with unlimited license, life is out of control.
People think they are free when they throw off the yoke of the Torah. However, unless one has the revealed wisdom of the Torah, he is at risk at becoming a "slave" to the fads and fashion of his society. Slavery is non-thinking action, rote behavior, following the impulse desires of the body. Our job on Pesach is to come out of slavery into true freedom and to develop a closer relationship with the Almighty!
During all eight days of Pesach we are forbidden to own or eat chametz (leavened bread -- i.e., virtually any flour product not especially produced for Pesach) or have it in our possession (Exodus 13:7). Why the emphasis on being chametz-free? Chametz represents arrogance ("puffing up"). The only thing that stands between you and God ... is you. To come close to the Almighty, which is the ultimate pleasure in life and the opportunity of every mitzvah and holiday, one must remove his own personal barriers. The external act brings the internal appreciation -- we remove chametz from our homes and likewise work on the character trait of humility.

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