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Shabbos – A Day With Hashem

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Step 1: Revealing Hashem’s Presence

When we put away our sukkak and machzorim over a month ago, many of us let out a sigh wishing that these wonderful days of simcha and closeness to Hashem would never end. But in truth Hashem does not want it to be Yom Tov all year long. He wants us to take what we received during those special days and integrate it into our daily life. It sounds nice, but how are we supposed to do that? The answer is through Shabbos! This wonderful day, which comes every week, has the ability to lift us once again to those same spiritual heights and help us recharge our batteries for the coming week.

This raises a difficult question. Why is it that many people don’t experience that special intensity on Shabbos as they do on Yom Tov? One reason may be that they are missing the preparation. Like all of Yiddishkeit, the more you effort you put into something, the more you will get out of it. Because Yomim Tovim occur only a few times a year, we put special effort into understanding them and therefore receive more in return. However, Shabbos, which comes so often, remains an untouched topic for many people. They don’t know the meaning of Shabbos and certainly don’t know how to tap into it.

This can be seen from the Gemara in Masechtas Shabbos (10b): “Hashem told Moshe – I have a wonderful present in my treasure house and its name is Shabbos. Go tell Klal Yisroel about it.” Why did He have to tell them how special it is – when Shabbos arrives won’t they realize it for themselves? The only way to feel the kedusha of Shabbos is by understanding Shabbos and why it is special.

Let us embark on a fascinating voyage through the world of Shabbos. In this series of articles we will be’ezras Hashem touch on some of the important and intriguing aspects of this multi-faceted day. Hopefully this will make Shabbos an experience we and our families will look forward to every week.

We begin by clarifying what Shabbos is. Every Yom Tov gives us a special gift to take throughout the year. On Rosh Hashana we add to our yiras Sshamayim – fear of heaven; on Yom Kippur, we are given repentance; on Sukkos, simcha; and on Shavuos, the Torah. What do we receive from Shabbos?

The Darkness Of This World

Rav Shimshon Pinkus zt”l explains that in reality, when we look around at the world, we should be immediately overcome with love and fear of Hashem, as the Rambam says (Yesodei Hatorah 2:2): “How does one come to love and fear Hashem? When a person examines all of Hashem’s amazing and huge creations and sees the astounding wisdom which is endless, he is immediately overcome with love of Hashem and praises and glorifies Him … and he will have an extreme desire to know more about the Great Hashem…. And when he thinks about these things he immediately will jump back and be filled with fear and trepidation as he realizes how he is such a small and lowly creature standing with such puny intelligence in front of the One with Perfect Intellect.” So why don’t we also feel this way? The Gemara in Bava Metziyah (83b) reveals the answer.

“‘Ta’shes choshech va’yehee l’ayla – darkness settles and it is night’ (Tehillim 104:20) – the night refers to this world (the physical world), which is compared to night.” We learn from here that Hashem has placed a great darkness in this world that hides His presence. Our job is to repel this darkness, and thus see Hashem everywhere. During the week this is a difficult task, as we are involved with worldly pursuits, such as earning a living and taking care of our needs.

Shvisa – Putting Everything on Halt

On Shabbos, though, everything stops, and it is much easier to reach this goal. We do not involve ourselves in any activities of production, so much so that the Shulchan Aruch (306:8) tells us that on Shabbos we must view all our work as finished. The reason: Shabbos is “M’ein Olam Haba” – a preview of the World-to-Come. In Olam Haba we will be exclusively involved in the greatest pleasure – basking in Hashem’s Glory. Nothing else will exist besides Hashem and us. Shabbos is similar, but on a smaller scale. The King comes to spend time with us, and we therefore gladly remove ourselves from all other activities. We must cook and bake before Shabbos, because once the Guest has arrived we want to spend all our time with Him. And Hashem’s presence is everywhere. Every second of the day should be a reminder that it is Shabbos. We walk differently, talk differently and prepare food differently. In the street we do not carry (if there is no eiruv) and we do not drive. And most of all – we cut ourselves off from the world! We turn off our BlackBerries and iPhones, and we are left only with Hashem. Now the darkness of the world is just a thin wrapper, which can easily be removed.

Jerusalem Walking Tour (Along part of the 1948 armistice line)

Friday, September 28th, 2012

For 19 years Yerushalayim was a city divided, cut in two by the 1948 armistice line. After Israel’s War of Independence on November 30, 1948, at the time of the official cease-fire, Moshe Dayan sat with Abdallah Tell and UN mediators, slicing up Yerushalayim. Using a map scaled at 1:20,000, each side used a different coloured wax pen to delineate the furthest point under its control. Israel drew a red line and Jordan a green line. This is the origin of the phrase used to describe land that is “behind the green line.”

Beit Israel Shul of Yemin Moshe

The 1948 armistice line in Yerushalayim stretched from Armon HaNatziv in the south of Jerusalem to Ammunition Hill to the north of the City. In many places the two lines converged. In addition, as the wax of the China graphic pens dried, the coloured ink lines spread out until they coved two millimetres of the map which equaled 200 meters. The drying ink caused a delicate problem as to where the exact boundaries were. For example, part of the neighbourhood of Musrara remained in a deadlock until an agreement was reached in July 1951.

Mount Scopus, where the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital are situated, remained in Jewish hands, although it was unequivocally within the Jordanian boundary. Twice a week, our soldiers disguised as policemen would travel in a convoy in order to be able to reach Mount Scopus to guard the area. The original sites of Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital were technically under the protection of the United Nations, but despite the “Mount Scopus Agreement,” the institutions were not permitted to reopen.

Jordan was a threatening enemy state.

Along the seam of the division line on the Israeli side, people lived in danger and anxiety. At any given moment the trigger-happy Jordanian soldiers might open fire on innocent civilians. Many times children playing in front of their homes were shot at. Mothers would scream to their children to take cover.

As time passed, both sides built walls and fences for defence and security reasons. The Jordanians had 36 posts around the City, as compared to Israel’s 19.

Entrance to Cable Car Monument on Rehov Derech Hebron

Our starting point on the walking tour is the gas station next to Liberty Bell Park. We begin our brisk walk though the suburbs, facing the old city walls that had been turned into a frontier-like no-man’s land from 1948 until 1967. Our first stop is the Har Tzion Hotel, at the Cable Car Monument, on Derech Chevron. Here, the Duke of Kent, who was member of the British Order of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, built a hospice for eye diseases in the 1880’s. At the time there were about four hundred different eye afflictions. The Ottoman army used the building as a weapons storehouse during the First World War. During the War of Independence fire from the Arab League made it impossible to reach positions on Har Tzion from the west of the City. At first the connection was maintained by means of a tunnel though the wadi. The tunnel made it possible to transfer supplies and evacuate the injured. This method obviously had its limitations.

Uriel Hefetz formulated a solution in December of 1948. A 200 meter (656 foot) steel cable was stretched across the Hinnon Valley, linking the Eye Hospital to the Israeli position on Har Tzion. It was only used at night, so that Jordanian Legion soldiers would not notice any activity. At the end of each night, the cable would be lowered down into the valley. The cable car reached a height of about 50 meters (164 feet) above the wadi. The rail cart could carry a maximum weight of about a half a ton. Three soldiers on each side were responsible for operating the cable car manually. The journey lasted about two minutes in each direction. Although it was used for only half a year, the IDF maintained it in perfect working condition from 1948 until 1967, in case it needed to be used again. The cable car was kept a military secret for twenty-four years, and its existence was only revealed to the public in 1972.

A Miracle on Siyum HaShas Day

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Dear Readers,

The first day of the second half of this summer will no doubt stand out in the memories of countless people who had the zechus to attend the twelfth Siyum HaShas at the MetLife Stadium. Many more who weren’t there in person were nonetheless able to participate in some way, either by catching highlights of the celebration streamed live or by viewing video clips and photos that managed to capture the essence of the achdus, exhilaration and sheer exultation that was widely in evidence that night.

It’s safe to say that everybody knows somebody who was there, be it a family member, neighbor or friend. A childhood friend of mine whom I shall call Malka stayed home with her elderly mother (who has lived with them for the past several years), while her husband attended the affair. An only child and the daughter of holocaust survivors, Malka was a young girl when she lost her father to a debilitating illness and most of her memories of him center on her visits to his hospital bedside. Her mother raised her single-handedly, having never remarried, and had always been extremely reserved about sharing or conveying her inner thoughts, even to her own daughter.

“My mother said very little, and even that little was spoken in a tone barely above a whisper,” says Malka. Not a bad thing in itself, to be sure, but Malka has often lamented that there was so much she yearned to know about both of her parents, and especially about her grandparents and the numerous aunts and uncles she had been cruelly deprived of ever meeting. According to Malka, “…my mother spoke only when it was essential for her to do so and spent most of her time working to support us and maintaining our small, neat and humble home.”

In the early evening of August 1, Malka was taken by the scene that greeted her when she stepped out on her front porch. Parked curbside along the length of Borough Park’s18th Avenue “were buses upon buses, white and shining, for as far as my eyes could see, with masses of my fellow Yidden – Chassidish, Litvish, Yekkish, Sefardish, Yeshivish, you name it – lining up to wait their turn to board the bus that would take them to the much talked-about event.”

This was something Malka felt her physically frail mother couldn’t miss seeing. “I held onto her arm and slowly guided her to our street corner from where she could clearly see the goings on. I turned to ask her what she thought of the incredible sight…”

Malka searched her mother’s face for a reaction and to her surprise saw tears welling in the older woman’s eyes. “Us they didn’t transport in white buses…” she said quietly, emotion choking her every word as tears began to trickle down her cheeks.

“She didn’t have to elaborate,” says Malka. “Not that she had ever gone into any detail, but I’d read and heard enough to know that she was reliving the horrors that she and innumerable others were forced to endure when they were mercilessly stuffed into the cattle cars… and I also understood that she was overcome with a sense of pride in her heritage that has miraculously survived despite the evil intent of a monstrous dictator that sought to annihilate us.”

And another miracle, albeit much smaller in scope, began to unfold on this day; Malka’s mother began to open up, to share the memories she’d stored in the attic of her mind for decades. The remarkable scene of hundreds of Jews boarding new-like buses to celebrate their joy in perpetuating our G-d given legacy apparently triggered in Malka’s mom a sudden urge to share the heavy burdens of her heart with her future progeny, to make them aware of the savagery perpetrated upon their ancestors who were among millions of victims of the Nazi genocide.

Malka recalls, “Over the years I had come to know that in Auschwitz my mother, then a young woman hardly twenty years of age, was given the job of sorting and checking through the various clothing items of victims stripped literally bare…” But now her mom shared the memory of a heart-stopping moment in time, when she had picked up a woman’s coat and felt something stuffed into one of its sleeves. To her horror it was a baby… whose life its mother had apparently desperately tried to preserve.

Parshas VaEschanan: ‘Wholeheartedly’

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Harav Matisyahu Salomon, the Lakewood Mashgiach, once  related the following personal story:

“When I was a young man I was a student in the Gateshead Yeshiva. The yeshiva had a 125 students – not large quantitatively, but qualitatively tremendous. The building was fairly small and the tables were so narrow that the volumes of Gemara overlapped each other. If a student wanted to turn the page he had to ask everyone around him to lift their Gemaras first. Yet despite it all we studied with tremendous diligence.

“One day a Dayan from London came to visit the yeshiva. Adressing the student body he read to us a page from an American journal.

“The article was written by an obviously irreligious Jew, albeit who possessed an appreciation for Jewish history. The author explained that, along with a group of journalists, he was invited on a European tour. When they arrived in England one of the places they visited was a village in Northeast England called Wallsend.

“Wallsend is an ancient village that dates back almost two millennia. When the Romans invaded and conquered England they constructed a wall to serve as a barrier to keep the mighty Scottish Picks out of England. They named it Hadrian’s Wall after the Roman Emperor. The village where the wall ended was aptly called Wallsend. Today there is nothing left of the wall except for a few moss-covered stones in the village of Wallsend. It is nothing more than a tourist attraction.

“The day the journalist arrived at Wallsend he recalled that he had yahrtzeit for his mother and he wanted to recite kaddish in her memory. When he asked the tour guide if there were any Jewish Services in the area, the guide replied that there was a school in the village of Gateshead ten miles away.

“The journalist arrived at the yeshiva in the middle of the afternoon. He had never been in a yeshiva before and the sight that greeted him was extraordinary. There were tens of young men huddled together on small benches studying, debating, and arguing with passion and vibrancy. The journalist did not comprehend anything they were saying, but he stood and watched spellbound. But then he overheard something which caught his attention. One student called out to his friend, ‘But Rabi Akiva says…!’ Those words reverberated in his ears.

“Even after they destroyed the Bais Hamikdash, the Romans understood that their job was incomplete. In order to destroy the Jewish People, they had to stop the public study and teaching of Torah. Hadrian sentenced Rabi Akiva’s to death because he taught Torah publicly. Hadrian ordered him killed in a most barbaric and heinous fashion to serve as an example of the severe consequences for teaching Torah. Yet today, centuries later, Hadrian and the Roman Empire are long gone, relegated to the history books and symbolized by a few moss-covered stones. Rabi Akiva, on the other hand, is alive and well. His teachings and legacy are still being promulgated and studied today![1]

Rabbi Salomon concluded that the story gave him so much encouragement because it serves as a powerful representation of G-d’s Promise, “But despite all this, when they will be in the land of their enemies, I will not have been revolted by them nor will I have rejected them to obliterate them, to annul My covenant with them – for I am Hashem, their G-d[2].” Rashi explains that a Jew must never think that the atrocities of exile prove that G-d no longer loves us. His love for us is boundless, and even in exile the covenant remains in full force.

All of the empires and countries that have sought to vanquish and obliterate us are gone. Yet we remain. That is the greatest sign of His love for us.

 

The verses of Shema, recited thrice daily, form the cornerstone of our faith, responsibility, and devotion to G-d. A Jew is obligated to state with conviction, “You shall love Hashem, your G-d, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your “Me’od”

The Gemara[3] offers two explanations of the word me’od. The first explanation is “with all of your resources”; one must prioritize G-d over his money and physical resources. The second is that one must love G-d despite whatever “middah” (Character Trait/Divine Attribute) G-d utilizes towards him. At times G-d may act toward a person with the attribute of justice, at other times with compassion. But no matter which attribute it is one must realize that G-d does all for the good and He must love G-d for that.

Every Day Is Graduation Day!

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

On the 43rd day of the Omer I asked a child how many days there were to go. He immediately answered that 37 days remained. In response to my inquiry about his calculations, he excitedly announced that there were 37 days left to the school year! While all of us–he included–were counting down to the monumental day of receiving the Torah, he was also counting the days until he would be absolved of learning the very same Torah in the formal school environment! Interestingly, his response immediately reminded me of the actions of Klal Yisroel after they received the Torah. Chazal tell us that Klal Yisroel ran away from Har Sinai like a young child runs away from school. At this time of year, when we celebrate the milestone of graduation and the conclusion of another stage in life, the question we must ask ourselves is, “Where are we going next?”

If the purpose of life is to grow to our potential, the celebration of graduation must be one of a beginning and not an end. So many children finish their years in yeshiva and then proceed to subsequent states in life without setting their GPS devices to the proper destination. So many children finish yeshiva and are lacking the skills and/or desire to continue their growth in learning – in quality or quantity. So many young men and women finish their studies in Israel with a fire in their souls and a determination to make concrete changes in their attitudes towards Torah and mitzvos, yet return to autopilot and a journey-without-a-destination, within a matter of months. A parent approached me with tears in his eyes, asking how he could have paid $420,000 in tuition – 3 years in yeshiva in New York and two years of study in Israel – only to have his child shed Torah and mitzvos – including Shabbos observance – in only four months in college. What went wrong?

This heart-wrenching question is not a new one. Unfortunately, this is the pattern we have modeled for our children as we, and they, experienced Jewish events throughout the year. When the 25 hours of Yom Kippur are over and we have cleansed our souls with real teshuva, how long does the spiritual elevation remain? In one yeshiva I attended, it was customary to start Shachris the morning after Yom Kippur a minute early so that learning would then start a minute earlier; Yom Kippur would have been worth it if only to incorporate the extra minute of learning on the day after the fast. Forty days of teshuva, two weeks of selichos, ten days of repentance, 25 hours of fasting and fervent prayers… and all we have to show for it upon “graduation” is one minute of learning? Yes, because each minute, every moment has value.

Completion of a process and graduation is only successful if the next stage in life is begun immediately and successfully. It is so easy to go back to the autopilot of hergel, our rote, automatic actions, reacting to life and our surroundings instead of living a life of contemplative decision making and thought-out responses. This pattern unfortunately follows us throughout the year. We build a sukkah and brave the elements for eight days, and what do we take with us when we graduate the holiday? We spend time and money to purchase the four species, and what do we take from the mitzvah after seven days of blessing the lulav and esrog?

Preparing for Pesach, we clean our homes, search our houses for every last crumb, and change our dishes, but do we have cleaner souls upon graduation, or are we only left with a few extra potato-starch induced pounds? We become habituated to going through life by doing the routines of mitzvos and Torah study, but do we reach the level of “lilmod al minas la’asos,” study for the purpose of making real changes in our actions? When we allow ourselves to perform by habit, when we don’t use our religious experiences as a springboard from growth, when we don’t use our performance of mitzvos as an opportunity to connect to Hashem, ourselves and our community, then we risk alienating ourselves from it all when we are in a new environment and our routines do not come naturally.

Parshas Korach: ‘Impulsive Wealth’

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

In 1978, Michael Aun won the Toastmaster’s International Speaking contest in Vancouver. He remarks that although he is well-known for winning the contest in 1978, he lost it in 1977 in Toronto, because he went seven seconds over his allotted time. In his words, “Do you know what you do after you lose a contest because of seven seconds? You go up to your hotel room and you cry. But after a while, you realize that you can go for it again. A year later I won it in Vancouver. I often say that we have to remember that you often have to go through Toronto in order to get to Vancouver.”

That’s the way winner’s think. Winner’s focus on their strengths; losers focus on their weakness. Winners are challenged by defeat while losers are paralyzed by defeat. What everyone remembers about Michael Aun is his triumph in Vancouver. But they soon forget the defeats.

Losers spend their time in the pursuit of happiness; winners spend their time in the happiness of the pursuit.

Winners search for the challenges; losers search for security!

The tragic rebellion of Korach is of the saddest accounts of the nation’s travails in the desert. Rashi[1] asks, if Korach was such a distinguished and clever individual what prompted him to mount a rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu, the leader of Klal Yisroel?

Rashi answers that Korach’s eyes caused him to err. Korach prophetically saw that holy leaders and great individuals would emerge from his progeny, including Shmuel Hanavi, who in his time, was as great as Moshe and Aharon combined. Korach concluded that if such greatness was to emerge from him he could not allow himself to be denied greater prestige and influence. He was convinced that the merit of his erstwhile descendants would protect him, and that he had a responsibility to achieve greater renown for their sake.

Rav Avrohom Pam zt’l[2] noted that Korach should have reached the exact opposite conclusion. If he was to father such great personages he should have seen it as beneath his dignity to incite an imbroglio against Moshe. He should have concluded that it does not befit the ancestor of Shmuel Hanavi to dispute the leader of Klal Yisroel over honor and glory.

The true initiator of Korach’s tragic rebellion was his wife. She would deride him for being silent and unassuming. “Whenever Moshe blows the trumpet, you and your fellow porters come running to shlep the Holy Ark to its next location. For someone so distinguished you are treated like a nobody. Moshe ensured that his closest family members have all of the most distinguished positions, but you get nothing!” Eventually her inflammatory remarks provoked Korach to challenge Moshe’s authority.

In Mishlei (28:20) it says, “One who is impatient to become rich will not become exonerated.” The Medrash applies this verse to Korach. Korach couldn’t wait to enjoy the honor and greatness he anticipated from his descendants and so he tried to grasp it prematurely. The results proved disastrous.

Yirmiyahu (17:11) warns us, “One who amasses wealth unjustly will lose it in the middle of his days.” Prima facie, the prophets foreboding words seem puzzling. Aren’t there many individuals who employ unethical means to achieve wealth and prominence, and then seem to enjoy the fruits of their unscrupulous actions in comfort?

Rav Pam explained that such individuals represent the greatest tragedy of all. There are individuals who are predestined to become wealthy for whatever divine reason. G-d has ordained that somehow they would become rich. Had they not succumbed to immoral activities they would have had their money anyway. Thus they gained absolutely nothing by being dishonest and deceitful. What a tragedy that they could have enjoyed their wealth and not have had to be punished for it in the next world. When the prophet warns of those who will lose their wealth rapidly he is referring to one who is not predestined to become wealthy. All of his schematic efforts will ultimately prove futile and “he will lose it in the middle of his days.”

This concept is not limited to wealth but to honor and prestige too. One can only achieve what G-d wills him to achieve, and all of his efforts will accomplish nothing if it is not meant to be. This was the root of Korach’s fallacious thinking. G-d had planned a glorious future for him, albeit through his descendants. But Korach was impatient and impulsive, and he thought mounting a coup-de-tat could alter his destiny. The error cost him not only his life and the lives of his family and followers, but also his share in the World to Come.

A True Commitment

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

In the vernacular of our sages and in our prayers, Pesach is titled, “Z’man chayrusaynu- Time of our freedom.” Although we did attain freedom at the time of our redemption from Egypt, titling the holiday as such doesn’t seem to encapsulate the root of the holiday’s greatness.

Egypt was the superpower of the ancient world from which no slave ever escaped. Yet the entire Jewish nation marched out of the country unhindered. Therefore the greatness of Pesach is that it is the time of our miraculous salvation and redemption. Freedom was indeed the desired outcome of the exodus, however, to say that Pesach is merely the “time of freedom” seems to omit the whole miracle of redemption, plagues and all.

Furthermore, Chazal state, “There is no truly free person other than one who immerses himself in Torah study” (Avos 6:2). If so, true freedom could only be attained on Shavuos, the anniversary of our receiving the Torah. If so, why is Pesach called “the time of freedom”?

In 1775, seventy soldiers of the Patriot army (known as the Minutemen) crossed paths with the six hundred or so British soldiers, who were en route to Concord, in Lexington (sixteen miles from Boston). To this day it is not known who fired first, but “the shot that was heard around the world” was fired, marking the commencement of America’s War of Independence.

On July 4th, 1776 the thirteen colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, which records the colonists’ rationalization and justification for proclaiming their independence from England. “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness… that to secure these rights Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

It wasn’t until 1781 however, when the British General, Lord Cornwallis, surrendered to Patriot General George Washington at the conclusion of the Battle of Yorktown, that American independence was truly achieved.

Any good American citizen knows that Independence Day is celebrated on July 4th, the anniversary of the completion of the Declaration of Independence. What is the logic behind that? It was the signing of the Declaration of Independence that actually placed the colonists in perilous danger. When the British were informed of the Declaration, they seethed with anger, deepening their enmity for the colonists. The Declaration placed the colonists in a situation of “no return.” Their only option now was to fight for their survival. Wouldn’t it be more logical for American independence to be commemorated on the anniversary of the victory at Yorktown? (Does anyone even know the anniversary of the victory at the Battle of Yorktown?)

The answer is that while the colonists did not attain true independence until the Battle of Yorktown, the Declaration of Independence was their proclamation of freedom. It heralded to the world that they were willing to fight for their cause. They had declared to pledge their lives and their sacred honor to the cause, even at the risk of death. Without that first step they could never have achieved ultimate independence. The Declaration was the groundwork and the root of their victory; therefore the independence that was achieved must be attributed to those initial daring efforts. Everything the United States claims to stand for was accomplished at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence[1].

The truth is had Klal Yisroel not have accepted the Torah on Har Sinai, the entire exodus would have been in vain. Klal Yisroel could not have real freedom as a nation until they received the Torah. Nevertheless, the exodus from Egypt demonstrated an unwavering emunah in Hashem. Klal Yisroel fearlessly followed Moshe out of Egypt into the vast, perilous, and dangerous desert. Who would feed their children? Who would take care of their medical needs? From where would they get clothing? These logical worries did not concern them because they placed their complete trust in Hashem. With the exodus Klal Yisroel subconsciously expressed unyielding belief in G-d. The culmination of their efforts was only realized on Shavuos but the initiation, i.e. Klal Yisroel’s “shot that was heard around the world,” was marching out of Egypt into the vicissitudes and unknown of the desert.

Pesach may not be the day when Klal Yisroel became free per se, but it is the “time of our freedom” because it marked the beginning of our spiritual ascension which resulted in our freedom. It is for this reason that on Pesach we begin to count the forty-nine day omer concluding with Shavuos.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/judaism-101/a-true-commitment/2012/04/05/

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