Haftorah of Metzorah (G-d can do ANYTHING!)

When I was a little girl, we got a jolly big pumpkin right at the farmer stand.  Bright orange goodness made into mushy nutritious food and pies.  And then my mother declared it was time to make pumpkin seeds.  Guess who got called upon to do the chore of washing those seeds to get them ready?  Yup, yours’ truly, who wasn’t the most cooperative of helpers.

Pumpkin seeds, for those of you who have scooped them out of live pumpkins instead of out of prepackaged snack bags, are smelly and slippery and gooey.  You have to place it in a colander and really work off the goo which envelopes it, separating each slippery pod from its cohorts.  I put up a fuss.  Not me, no way, I wasn’t handling those smelly things.  Why did I have to do it…I didn’t even like pumpkin seeds, said I (though I had never tasted them)…and on and on went my complaints.  My mother warned me, “If you don’t help out in the making of those seeds, you won’t be allowed to partake in the delight of when they are finished.”  “Who cares,” was my quick rejoinder, “I’d never want to eat pumpkin seeds.  Do you smell how putrid they are?!”   My mother warned me a few times over, reassured me that the finished product tasted good, but I was good old stubborn me.  I dug in my heels and refused the job.

The seeds got washed.  They got dried and salted.  And the family sat about sucking out their salty goodness, cracking them open and enjoying them.  Whilst I sat nearby, forbidden from having any.  I learned my lesson.  It doesn’t pay to abstain from working toward the good stuff, even if the working toward it might be not your fantasy job.  After all, don’t we all want to enjoy the end product?

This week’s Haftorah (Melachim/Kings II:6) has an interesting story to tell.  It was the times of Elisha and there was a horrible hunger in the Kingdom of Israel.  If that wasn’t bad enough, just when things weren’t growing properly, the Aram enemy came and besieged Samaria.  Now, even food from outside couldn’t come into the city and folks did desperate things to survive, some of them even becoming cannibals.  Not for nothing was the famine in place, but as punishment for the depravity and idol worship that was rampant there in that land.  Yet, even as punishment happens, there is always an element of pity that Divine Mercy has in place.  The king went knocking on Elisha’s door, knowing full well that the famine was G-d sent, but hoping Elisha would be able to pray and get G-d to have pity on the people.  Sure enough, the prophet Elisha reassured the king that by the same time on the morrow food would be so abundant it would be pennies for the pound.  The king happened to be leaning on the arm of the captain of his army, a man who had a skeptical streak in him.  And while the king took the prophecy at face value, his captain was all shades of a fool and spoke out in a mocking tone, “Even if G-d would install windows in Heaven, you think this prophecy can come true?”  Ah, my friend, prophecies ought not be mocked.  Nor should faith in providence ever be limited by our limitations.    You see, G-d can do anything He wants in His world, at any time, with any given manner and means.  Most times, G-d will use natural occurrences to do His bidding.  However, He is not limited to your imagination.  Just because you can’t imagine how G-d will help, doesn’t mean He can’t.

I interrupt the Haftorah with a true story.  I girl I know called me one day hysterical.  Her husband had just collapsed suddenly into a coma, and they discovered he had advanced cancer.  He was now unconscious and the doctors didn’t think he’d make it.  I told her, “Kiddo, you will do two things:  don’t believe the doctors.  They are not G-d.  G-d gives life, not them.  Your husband will be fine.  Second, you must keep a sense of humor.”  She thought I’d lost my marbles – “sense of humor?!”  Yup, I confirmed, going through crisis is only possible by holding onto faith and humor, I’ve found.  So, I told her to find a way to find something laughable every now and then in the situation.  She didn’t think the second part of my instructions was doable, but she agreed that she believed enough in G-d that she could rely on G-d healing her husband.

Anyhow, she walked into the hospital every day to the ICU with a smile and determination.  One day, the hospital called her into conference.  They decided she was just disconnected with reality and they had to set her straight.  Around the conference table were the team of doctors, a nurse and a mental health professional.  “You know,” they began in somber tones, “your husband is a very, very, very sick man.”  In telling me the story, she chuckled that she had finally been able to find a scenario that seemed off-kilter and kinda funny to her in the crisis.  She realized they were there to make her grasp the fact that her husband was as good as dead at this point.  She spoke up very quietly, in as somber a tone as they, “You know,” she began, “my husband is a very, very, very…,” she paused for drama, and then lifted her voice into a lilt, “…STRONG MAN!  He’s going to make it!”

He did, by the way.  A miracle, if ever the doctors have seen one.  That couple makes a point of visiting that ICU every now and then to remind the medical team that they are not G-d…and that with G-d on your side, everything is possible.

Back to our Haftorah, where Elisha is promising abundant food would be delivered by G-d to the starving people within 24 hours, and some arrogant captain challenges the prophecy.  “Will G-d open windows in heaven…?”  Elisha turned to the captain and sharply said, ‘It will happen.  You will see it, but you won’t get to enjoy it.’ Kinda like my pumpkin seeds.

At that time, there were four men who were stricken with Tzora’as, the skin condition that those who speak ill of others get afflicted with.  The law is that such a person may not live together with society, for by speaking bad of others, they were trying to create a wedge between the general population and their victim.  In punishment, the wedge is used against them – and they are to be distanced from everyone else.  These four men, therefore, were right outside of the city walls, caught between the army camp set up by Aram and the starving residents of the city.  One of them said, “This is ridiculous.  We have no food to eat and are sitting here waiting for death.  Going back into the city doesn’t make sense as there is no food to be gotten there.  Tonight, let us creep into the enemy camp.  If we get killed, at least it will be quick instead of slow starvation.  And who knows, perhaps we can live if we manage to pilfer or beg some food.”  The four set out to do so, and weirdness of weirdness, the entire enemy camp was deserted.  Not a soul was in sight.  The men ate their fill and wondered about the situation.  All was intact, tents, ammunition, food supplies, horses, but there was not a person to be found.  G-d had created noises that the enemy had heard that sent them running for home in fright – kinda like yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded auditorium and emptying it out that way.

The four men decided to share the news with the king…and sure enough, after a scouting party went out, it was confirmed:  the enemy had scrambled back home, frightened, and left behind all their supplies.  The city gates were opened, and the starving masses ran helter-skelter, pell-mell, thousands of them, to the tents of the enemy to feast on the enemy’s left-behind food.  Standing at the gate, watching the abundance of food being eaten was the captain…but not for long, for in the shoving and chaos (think Black Friday stampedes) the captain got trampled to death.  He saw the salvation he doubted, but didn’t get to enjoy it.

So, my friends, as we head into Shabbos, remember well, anything is possible for G-d to have happen.  Believe in salvations.  Trust in G-d.  Pray for His help.  And work toward meriting it.  For if you do, you will get to enjoy the benefits.

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Think Before You Speak or Act — Pirkei Avos (2:1)

I had the most dashing cousin from Australia when I was a kid who arrived in America.  Malka (not her real name, but renamed for the purpose of the story) was fun, mischievous, charming, and oh, that ahccent.  How delightful to my ears was the way she spoke, and we all tried imitating it, rolling certain letters, drawing out some of our vowels, but none of us were able to come close to her genteel Ahstralian tones.

Malka was a leader, and she led us into adventure and games.  She told us stories.  One day, when we were all bored (and I suppose Malka was even more bored), she told us she would show us something amazing, but we had to sign on to do a few things to make that happen.

In her charming accent, she told us, “Now, everyone, you need to sit cross legged on the floor.”  Down we all plopped, a couple dozen of us cousins.  “Now you must raise your hands over your heads just so” and she demonstrated.  Automatically, we all stretched our hands in excellent imitation.  “Now bend over and slap the floor, saying this magical word, ‘ohwahtahdoltaham”.  It took a few repeats of the magic word until we got those vowels just so, with her accent.  And, then, (yes, I give a sheepish shrug), all of us cousins sat there swaying, slapping the floor, saying Malka’s magic word.  Malka in the meantime was doubled over in laughter.   “We don’t get it, Malka,” we finally admitted, “what did you want to show us.”  Replied Malka, “I wanted to show you what dolts you ahrrr.  Slow down the word and listen to it slowly.”  Malka repeated her magic word, the one she had us slapping the floor with, and this is what it said in slow-speed, “Oh what a Dolt I Am.”  We felt quite doltish.

I thank Malka for that moment of sheepish tom-foolery, for it taught me to really examine what I’m being told to do and not rush into following blind instructions.

A Jew must be a thinker, weighing actions and words before he does them.  In Pirkei Avos, (2:1) Rabi tells us to stop and think about the loss of doing the wrong thing and the reward of doing the right thing.  Actions and words must be carefully examined before putting into use.  Or else, we end up, swaying stupidly, showing “ohwhatadoltIam.”

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IYAR – ZIV- A Blooming Good Attitude

Today is Rosh Chodesh, the start of a new month.  The new month right now is Iyar, also known as Ziv. Ziv means two things: it means radiation (because the sun’s radiation is switched “on” now with the start of spring). and Ziv also means a blossom, because everything is blossoming this time of year.

When the Jews left Mitzryaim [Egypt] way back when, shortly thereafter was Rosh Chodesh Iyar.  At that time they arrived at a place called Marah, where the waters were bitter.   Every sip of life-giving water had a brackish bitterness that made it impossible to drink.  G-d told Moshe to throw in a “branch” which then sweetened the water, turning the undrinkable water into delicious fare.  There, at the location of Mara, the Jews also got the laws of Shabbos, of Parah Aduma and some other of Judaic law.

Basically they were taught on that first Rosh Chodesh Iyar that Torah makes life sweeter (how does a stick show us it was Torah sweetening the water – we say “Eitz Chayim Hee” when we take out the sefer Torah – proclaiming Torah as the branch of life).

When the Torah tells us the narrative of the bitter waters, it says something a bit off.  It says the water was undrinkable because “they” were bitter.  Water is not a they, it should have been an it.  Since Torah is not a history book, but rather a source of lessons to character development, we have to ask why the Torah wrote this story in this manner.  Why the wording saying “they” were bitter.  We are being taught something profound here.  The reason the Jews found the water bitter was because of bitterness inside of themselves.  The folks, the masses, they were bitter, and because of that bitterness, everything they tasted, even life-giving water, tasted bitter as bile.

Bitter and Sweet are perceptions and come from attitudes – if you have a bitter attitude, everything you taste becomes bitter.  The Baal Shem Tov once wanted to show this to his students, so he took them on a walk and met up with the poor water carrier.  He asked the water carrier, “Nu, how’s life?”  The water carrier replied with a wide smile, “Ah, wonderful!  Everyone should be so lucky as me, to work outside and not have to be cooped up into a building.  To be able to meet everyone in town and help them by giving them water.  To be able to stay strong by carrying these heavy buckets of water.  Ah, what a great life!”  A few days later the Baal Shem Tov took his students out again and met the same water carrier and asked him, “Nu, so how’s life?”  The water carrier moaned, “Oy vey, why was I cursed with this life?  To always have to work outside!  To have to meet every kvetchy person in town and have to be a slave to the whole town by bringing them water.  And, oy vey, my back, why do I have to shlep such heavy buckets?”  The Baal Shem Tov turned to his students and asked, “What changed in this man’s life? Nothing.  His life is just harder, more bitter, or easier and more sweet based on attitude alone.”

Have you ever seen the anon wisdom of,  “If you complain about washing dishes, remember there are folks who have no dishes and no food to serve on them.  If you complain about having to do laundry, thank G-d you have clothing.”  Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera as the King of Siam once said.    Attitude is everything!!!

Color your perspective with sweetness and all will be sweet.  And the surest way to do that is to delve into Torah study, where we learn how to become a more complete person.

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Parshas Shemini — Jewish Guilt — nah!

This week’s Torah Portion, Parshas Shemeenee, talks about the completion of the Tabernacle.  You can build beautiful edifices, but it is only worth the effort if that building does what it is supposed to do.  For example, suppose a love-struck guy builds a mansion wherein he dreams of living with the love of his life.  The mansion is all done…and his girl disappears from his life, finding herself a new guy.  That mansion, all that effort, all for naught.  He is left with the empty shell of structure with no vibrancy inside.

The Jews ran to donate to the building of the Tabernacle, crazy with love for G-d who had forgiven their sin of the Golden Calf.  They spent months building it.  Now came the test – would the edifice reunite them fully with G-d?  Or would they be stuck with a structure, but no relationship?

On the 8th day of the setup was the day to start the services by the priests [not for this post, but 7 is the temporal world, while 8 is one above that to spirituality].  Aharon, chosen as High Priest, begins with personal sacrifices, trying to get atonement for past mistakes.  He blesses the nation.  And then…

Verse 24:  “Moshe and Aharon went into the Ohel Moed and came out…and the presence of Hashem appeared to the nation.”  What were Moshe and Aharon doing at this point?   We know Aharon was there to do the Avodah – the service.  Why did Moshe suddenly appear on the scene and go together with Aharon into the Tabernacle?

Rashi:  the Ketores-incense part of the service was to be done for the first time and Moshe was teaching Aharon how to do it.  The Rashbam says that the two of them, Moshe and Aharon, were busy praying for the presence of Hashem to be manifest to the Jews.  You see, G-d is in all of our lives.  Yet, not all of us merit to “see” His presence.  It takes an extra-level of merit to discern the revelations in our life.  Here, where the Jewish people waited to see if their Tabernacle would be accepted, it was important that they be able to tangibly see revelation, which is why Moshe and Aharon were pleading for it.

The Midrash tells us there is more to the story.  The Midrash tells us that Aharon went in to do the sacred work in the Tabernacle, but the altar took on the form of an animal and he got scared.  Moshe had to enter with him to reassure him and let him clearly see the altar for what it was.

We are not being told by the Midrash that Aharon was hallucinating.  It wasn’t an LSD-fueled trip into imagine land.  What we are being taught with this Midrash is that Aharon’s sense of shame for the sin of the Golden Calf  was coloring everything in his life—he wasn’t getting past the fact that he had some complicity (albeit for a  good reason) in the Golden Calf.  He thought everything he touched was tainted by his sin, even the altar itself.  Therefore, Moshe went in with him and helped him understand that the sin was in the past. G-d had forgiven and it was time to now move on past that sin, without letting the guilt continue to color Aharon’s life.  Once that happened, then there was full revelation of G-d to the people.

My friends, we are not being told there isn’t responsibility attributable to our sins.  We know that when we sin we must fess up and repent.  We must set wrongs right.  However, what we ARE being told is that once our repentance is done, it is okay to understand G-d loves us, that we have a huge potential G-d still wants us to live up to, and that the past sins must never cripple our relationship with G-d.

And when we grasp that concept, ah, then, we open ourselves up to manifest Divine Revelation.  Jewish guilt ain’t that much of a Jewish concept.  We take responsibility and move past mistakes, not carry guilt around like unneeded weights.

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The Salvation in a Split Sea

Folks — as Pesach continues, we continue historically in the footsteps of those emancipated ancestors as they wandered away from Egypt.

G-d led them with a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night.

(Parshas B’Shalach) CHAPTER 14:  After they got a bit away from Egypt, G-d told Moshe to tell the Jews to retract and go back toward Egypt.  The amazing thing is that the Jews did so – they didn’t question and didn’t let fear take hold.  At this point, they had total faith and did it although it made no logical sense to them.

Paroh counts off three days and then decides he wants the Jews back.  Chapter 14, verse 6:   Paroh hitched his chariot – he personally set up his chariot.  Nothing stood in his way and he didn’t wait for his servants.  “V’ess ahmoh Lukach Eemoh” [and his nation he took with him].  Rashi:  He took them by persuasion, he talked them into joining him.  What got them motivated?  Money.  Wealth makes folks do things that are so risky and they know are so risky.  They just suffered ten plagues, begged the king to get rid of the Jews, chased the Jews out…but three days later Paroh explains that they ought to be chasing after the wealth, and, boom, he had them.  We must always ask ourselves if we are rushing into disaster to chase after money.

He assembled an army with him and got a fleet of horses.  Rashi asks where did they get the animals from – and the answer is that the steeds were supplied by the “G-d fearing” Egyptians who had saved their animals (if you remember, in a previous Parsha, the Egyptians were warned of the hail plague and those who “feared G-d” at that point, put their animals into barns to save them while all the other animals out in the fields got killed).  Their “fear of G-d” lasted only as long as the plagues, and then it was, ‘okay, let’s use what we saved to go against the will of G-d’.  We must remember never to be like those fools.  If we learn a lesson about G-d’s providence, we must remember that lesson way beyond the time it happened and keep the perspective throughout our lives.

Ever hear the term, between a rock and a hard place, it was penned for what happened now.  The Jews are on the shore of a sea and there are two rocks on each side of them so they can’t run anywhere…and then the Egyptians approach from the back. (In Song of Songs, Shlomo HaMelech commemorates this point of history as describing it as “yonasee b’chagvay ha’selah- my dove is stuck in the cleft of the rock”)

And the Jews “cried out to Hashem”.  So far so good.  They davened, which was great.  But then, instead of relying on the prayer, they began complaining.  V.11 “Are there not enough graves in Egypt that you had to take us to die here in the desert?”  The  bitterness sets in, now, which is NOT okay.

Moshe responds to them:  “Don’t be afraid, stand still and see the salvation of Hashem”

Moshe is davening to Hashem and Hashem says, now is not a time to prolong in prayer.  It is a time to act: the Jews should march forward into the sea, which will split.  What is going on – why shouldn’t Moshe daven?  To pray or not to pray, that is the question, and how are we to know when to employ prayer and when to act?  We are taught that until your prayer is answered, keep davening.  So why is Moshe told to stop davening now?  The Ohr Hachayim explains the way of Heaven – there is Middas Rachamim and Midas HaDin – an Attribute of Mercy and an Attribute of Justice.  At this point, the sea was told to split and save the Jews.  But the angels protested – the reasoning was, according to justice, the Jews sinned, as did the Egyptians.  Why save one over the other?  Up until now, they had the merit of the Korban Pesach, but now they negated it by complaining against G-d, so in strict justice, they had no merit to invoke mercy.  Therefore, G-d told Moshe, prayer won’t help.  The Jews need an extra merit – march forward into the still wet sea.  The Jews inch forward, giving them the beginning of the merit of their salvation.  One man, Nachson ben Aminuduv, actually marches straight into the sea while it was still unsplit, and then…

[The historical time of the splitting of the sea takes place on the second days of the Chag.]

Moshe is told to stretch out his hand over the sea.  Overnight, the Jews are camped there and Moshe was stretching out his hand, and a strong east wind came and pushed back the water.  The man who had waded in was at that point up to his nostrils in water.   He didn’t back down, so sure was he in salvation.  Do we have it in us to believe even as we wade in deeper and deeper?

There are those who want to debunk historical accounts.  They cannot do away with the story of the splitting of the sea as there are archeological records that refer to it, so they try to do away with G-d through science, saying that the moon pulled the tide way off that night.  G-d does miracles with nature.  In fact, the verse talks about a mighty strong wind being involved.  But when you see  how nature “lined up its time of splitting” with the exact moment that the Jews were going to be attacked shows how idiotic this claim of debunking G-d is.  Nature is a tool G-d uses and manipulates to bring punishment, reward and miraculous salvations.

The waters split into varied tunnels, each tribe had their own pathway.  The water was like blown crystal and there were fresh water fountains inside.  By marching forward, the Jews created the Zechus [merit] they needed to save them.  Daven, yes.  But at times, when davening is not being answered, it might be because we need an extra merit to get the answer to the Tefillos.  At that time, we should “march forward” and find ourselves a merit.

The Egyptians follow the Jews into the sea – when the last Jew comes out of the sea, the last Egyptian stepped in and the water crashes down again on the Egyptians.   The Mitzriyim were so focused on their evil, they did not stop to think, “hey, a sea just split, shouldn’t we think what it means before plunging in….”  Make sure we are never so focused on our Yetzer Hara that we ignore signs that we are doing wrong.

The splitting of the sea was not straight across.  It was actually a semi-circle split, as the Jews went in and came out on the same side of the sea.

Verse 30:  and the Jews saw the Egyptians dead upon the shore – the sea spat out the dead bodies to reassure the Jews that their enemies were dead and so that the Jews could collect booty off the dead men.

Chapter 15:  Then Moshe sang. We have to sing songs of thanks to G-d

What follows in the next verses is the prayer of Az Yasheer.  First of all, it opens with something weird it says, “az” then “Yasheer” which means he will then sing – future tense.  Really it should say, Az Shar  – then he sang, in the past tense.  It is a hint of the future, that just as we sang the song at this salvation, our nation will get to sing again such a song when Moshiach comes.

{aside:  a note about Shirah – there are only ten times mankind will ever sing.  Nine times those songs have been sung, one more time will be when Moshiach comes.  Song of Shira is only when folks realize their connection to G-d and know their task in His world.}

Verse 1: “soos v’rohchvoh rahmah ba’yam” horse and rider He threw in the sea”  RASHI:  even as they were bobbing up and down and drowning, horse and rider stayed together.  That is the way they lived their lives – identity through their steeds, so G-d killed them that way.  Those who identify themselves with their Mercedes van or Lamborghini so that they don’t know where they as a person start and end, will end up destroyed together with their “extended” personality.

It then describes how the Egyptians drowned, and there were different descriptions.  We learn that even in their punishments, it wasn’t one measure for all.  Each person gets exactly what is due them. Therefore, those who harmed the Jews but were not torturers, they sank like “lead” right straight down, quick death.  Then there were those sank a bit slower, like stones.  Those who delighted in torturing us, they sank like “straw” bobbing about, their death prolonged until they got full measure torture for what they had dealt out.

Verse 20: and Miriam took an instrument in her hand.  She had told the women to bring along instruments before they left Egypt because she knew they would have time to sing because G-d would do miracles.  That is the power of belief in G-d, trusting He will do salvations for you.  Another interesting thing to note is that in the verses, it says that Miriam began dancing and singing – and the other women joined in.  We learn from this that doing the right, spiritual thing, you don’t have to convince others to do it too – just from your example, others will be moved to do the right thing.

Talmud Sotah (quoted by Rashi) shows the laws of modesty were in place.  Moshe was singing with the men, Miriam with the women.  Even in our joy, we have to make sure we don’t lose a sense of propriety.  That is why during Simchas Bais Hashoeva in the times of the Temple, they made sure that there were separate sections for the men and women.


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Fifteen Step Program for the Seder – mapping out growth

There are fifteen segments to the Pesach Seder.  These correspond to the fifteen steps that led into the Ezras Yisroel, the part of the Temple where a ritually prepared person would be allowed to enter.

The fifteen stairs leading up to the Temple were unique in that one didn’t just run up those steps.  Each one of these steps had its own song.  Tehillim [Psalms] 120-134 are the fifteen Shir Hama’alos, songs of the steps.  Each step up toward the Temple had a different song and thought associated with  it.

The vision of Yaakov, our ancestor, was of a ladder heading from earth to heaven.  A ladder has rungs.  No one makes a leap from earth to heaven, no one can go from spiritual emptiness to understanding the greatest depths of spirituality in a split second moment.  There are steps leading one to greatness.

In fact, the moon mirrors that concept, too.  It doesn’t go from nil to full-size right away.  Rather, the moon builds up its image, day by day, until the fifteenth day of the month it displays itself in its fullness.

The word Kavannah is often used to refer to concentration in prayer and in following Torah commandments.  The root of the word Kavannah is Kivun, direction.  In order to get the maximum out of our prayer or out of our lives, we have to live it with direction.

As we head to Pesach, if we want the full effect of Pesach to hit us and penetrate our souls, we have to prepare for it.  We have to have “kivun” direction where we want to head.  And then, we must set up rungs to ascend.  Map out how we can progress in do-able steps.

That is one of the messages of the Seder.  We want to get from slavery, from being (in the words of Henry Higgins) “squashed cabbage leaves” to royalty, to the high point of the Seder which is Nirtzah, which means wanted/beloved by G-d.  How to get there?  Not by trying to do a rocket launch into spiritual orbit.  But by taking it step by step, enhancing our knowledge bit by bit, increasing our observance day by day, growing and gaining another rung on the ladder of spirituality.

That is the secret of the fifteen-step Seder, to teach us that there are steps we can take to get to great heights.  If we are willing to do it, step by step.

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Kosher Your Kitchen for Pesach

In our home, growing up, Easy-Off and Bleach were the nullifiers before Koshering the kitchen. Every plate, utensil, appliance, table, counters and chairs was slathered with the stuff, making any crumb left behind (as if there could be any!) completely inedible and, therefore, nullified. Then came the boiling waters, heated rocks and blowtorches. And then, came out the special just-for-Pesach dishes and appliances, as the Koshered old ones got put away as Chametz.

OCD doesn’t come close to Pesach-mania in a Hungarian home. My mother remembers her mom whitewashing the outside walls of the home. Bukharian kids told me that back in Bukhara there was the same intensity – there were actually separate Pesach homes for some of them. C’mon, why the intensity, if you can just do a cursory sweep-out, wash, Kasher and enjoy approach? And the answer, my friend, is that the more you put into something, the more you get out of it.

The more time I spend on the cleaning of my home, the more I have to reflect about the inside, emotional cleaning I must do. The more I scour and nullify my cabinets and gadgets, the more I have to force myself to ask if I’ve nullified my pride and evil inclination. The more I slave away at trying to ensure my home is ready to accept G-d’s commandment of absolutely no Chametz, the more connected and crazy-with-love for G-d I will be.

So, my friends, yes, you can do it the easy way. Yet, the extra effort does deepen the experience. Trust me, as I wave my bleach-scented hands in emphasis.

Here is a clever and fun way of explaining how to Kasher a kitchen, put together by the Ayelet HaShachar organization: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksG3C8VpRpw&feature=related

And, for a truly spiritual insight into obligations, listen to Rabbi Tatz discuss slavery and freedom here: http://www.simpletoremember.com/media/a/leaving-egypt-freedom-and-obligation/


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