Photo Credit: Courtesy
Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe greeting a youngster.

More than a week has passed since Seder night. You remember it, don’t you? Most of us have already eaten rolls, unpacked our suitcases, done our laundry, and returned to our routine – to our studies and to our work, since, after all, the holiday is over. It’s behind us.

Yesterday someone told me that Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner would instruct his students during these days as follows:

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“Don’t say the holiday is over and done, but that the holiday has given us something more. Each holiday penetrates us, builds another story within us, leaves us with a blessing, brings about a change. We must not allow ourselves to just pass through the holidays, much less lose our memory of them, but rather treasure our holiday experiences. Let us for just one moment recall a single feeling, prayer, song, or family memory – and not allow it to disappear within the daily routine, but take it with us instead.

“We must be able to look back, several months or even several years from now, and tell ourselves: This is what I took from that Seder, this is what I began doing then, this is the transformation that began within me during that holiday.”

So what did we take from Pesach, 5782?

 

MIMOUNA: NEVER CLOSE YOUR DOOR, MAYBE SOMEONE WILL COME

Here is something Elirach Ochayon, an educator from Be’er Sheva, wrote about Mimouna, a holiday celebrated by Jews from North Africa, especially Moroccan, descent. The Mimouna marks the end of Pesach and a return to eating chametz:

Last year, while celebrating Mimouna at my grandmother’s house, one of the grandchildren closed the front door. My grandmother immediately jumped up and told him: ‘We don’t close that door,’ and my mother quickly swung the door wide open again.

The thing is, my grandmother seldom speaks. She is severely disabled and it is extremely difficult to get her to say anything – until they closed her front door.

I have just recalled a single, brief moment, yet it is highly symbolic. The amount of food in my grandmother’s stuffed refrigerator is completely unreasonable, to say nothing of the number of refrigerators that she has. For years I never understood this, but I heard one sentence repeated over and over again: ‘Maybe someone will come.’

There are certain homes where uninvited guests are a disaster, but I grew up in a totally different atmosphere. I learned that there is no such thing as an inappropriate time when it comes to guests and that a full house is a recipe for happiness.

The more time passes, the less you see this. Doors are closed and people no longer arrive without an invitation. But one night a year, we are privileged and so happy simply to see people coming to our home.

And every time I think about how old my grandmother is, I get scared. Because this world desperately needs people who become alarmed when their front door is closed; it’s a special kind of awareness, an entire way of life. If only I will be privileged to carry on this tradition in my own home. In the words of the customary Mimouna greeting: ‘Tirvachu ve’tisadu’ (Be prosperous so you can help others).

 

THREE ASPIRATIONS

He was one of the pre-eminent educators of our generation, yet he is not sufficiently known to the public. It is 17 years since Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe passed away. Here are three aspirations articulated in his special teachings:

“Set one hour aside, several times a week, to take a walk and ruminate a little about yourself. In this way, you will get used to living with yourself just a little bit more. Sometimes a person is afraid of being with himself, he becomes a stranger to himself and does not know himself. This is something to work on.”

“Every day we encounter different people: a corner grocery store proprietor, a post office clerk, a bus driver, little children. We must try to emulate each of them in three ways. To learn from every person, without exception.”

“In G-d – many people believe. This is not something unusual. However, many people do not believe in the greatness of the human being, but I do.”

In his memory.

 

RESPONDING TO THE KOTEL CONFLICT, THEN AND NOW

The Mufti of Jerusalem accused the Jews of rioting at the Kotel and claimed that they were attempting to take over the Al-Aksa Mosque. This accusation did not only appear last week, but also at the time of the Arab riots at the Kotel in 5689 (1929). At that time, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook published an incisive response to the Mufti of his day, although it seems that it could have been written this morning:

All of the civilized world knows that the Jews never stopped praying at the Western Wall. Everyone knows that the moniker of ‘Wailing Wall’ was given to it on account of the tears that Jews wept there for generation upon generation, in the midst of penetrating prayers of every heart and soul.

The Mufti’s claim that Arabs were threatened is false. There is no foundation to this. No Jews, even the young among them, ever threaten anyone. They only stand their ground to defend themselves and, especially, their elders, their women, and their weak when others converge on them. It is a vain and terrible slander to say that the Jews desecrate the holy places of the Muslims, something that has never entered their minds.

Is this the strategy of those Muslims going to pray, to arm themselves with swords and knives? And who can fail to understand that the Arabs who carry these weapons do so for the sole purpose of committing murder. And how dreadful it is when they turn their prayers into a libel against Jews so that they can justify murder and the spilling of innocent blood.

The truth is so obvious that a horrible injustice has been instigated by some Muslims through incitement against a quiet people that labors, body and soul, in the Holy Land.

We hope that the tradition of peaceful co-existence, where all the residents of Eretz Yisrael build together the beloved and neglected land, and transform it into the Garden of Eden it is meant to be – that this same holy tradition will prevail over the lying schemes and deception, the impurity and malice we have witnessed of late.

Amen.

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

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Sivan Rahav-Meir is a popular Channel 12 News anchor, the host of a weekly radio show on Galei Tzahal, a columnist for Yediot Aharonot, and the author of “#Parasha.” Every day she shares short Torah thoughts to over 100,000 Israelis – both observant and not – via Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp.