Shabbos HaGadol

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Shabbos HaGadol

Preparing for the Seder

 

The Shabbos Before Pesach

We read today in the Haftorah of Shabbos Hagadol, the Shabbos before Pesach, the A’lmighty’s last word so to speak, (via the prophets), before the prelude to the end of days.

The Navi tells us that the A’lmighty comes with complaints to His people, that from the times of the forefathers we left the proper path etc., please take a look over there, the whole piece.

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I have many questions. The A’lmighty asks us to repent from our bad ways, and we answer, what did we do? So He says that you are stealing from me, and we ask, what are we stealing? So Hashem says, the mayser and the truma, which are supposed to be given to the Levi and the Kohen, and the whole nation doesn’t give.

Then later Hashem complains to us that we are speaking not nice, and we ask what exactly are we saying that is not nice, and the Almight’y says, that we say that it’s worthless serving Hashem, what do we gain from it, what’s wrong with being like the wicked people who are doing just fine.

To Stand Before the Ribono-Shel-Olam

At first glance this is wondrously impossible to comprehend. How in the world does the Jewish people stand before the Ribono Shel Olam and say “what in the world are we doing wrong”, when the answer is, “you say, what do we gain from serving Hashem, it’s worthless, and let’s be like the wicked who are prospering”. When the Creator takes them to task on obvious guilt, how do they have the gall to say we don’t even know what You’re talking about?

And then later when the Almight’y says that in the end of days the tables will be turned, that the wicked will get it over the head, and the righteous will be granted Divine protection, to the point that the wicked will be utterly burnt up and will become ash for the righteous to trample upon; there He says, “then you will see the difference between he who is righteous and he who is wicked, between he who serves Hashem and he who doesn’t”. What is this second distinction, he who serves Hashem and he who doesn’t. (Chazal say what they say, but it is derech drush).

I suggest to understand that a person can be sitting and learning a full day, and be amazingly exacting in Mitzva observance, being particular about the little details just like the big details, maybe even wearing a streimel and a gartel, and yet it is possible that he hasn’t even started Avodas Hashem, serving G-d. For it could be that everything he is doing, he is only serving himself. He wants to be successful in a frum framework, he wants Olam Haba, he wants Olam Hazeh, he wants to be considered successful, a Rav, a Maggid Shiur.

He recognizes that there is a Creator and there are rules, but basically he wants to have his own two hands on the steering wheel. He hasn’t yet become botul, subservient, to Hashem. He is basically living a life of building himself. He is not one of Hashem’s servants.

This is why when Hashem Yisborach says that you are not with it, you left the path, you missed the boat, that Klal Yisroel can look Him back in the face, so to speak, and say, “we don’t even know what you’re talking about, you’re speaking Chinese”. The distinction is indeed fine.

“From the times of the forefathers”: What exemplified the forefathers is that they spent their whole lives only in the service of the Almight’y, like the Kohen Gadol who wears on his head, “Kodesh LeShem”, set apart for a life dedicated to revealing the A’lmighty’s existence and Will in the world. They were completely given over to doing the Will of the Almight’y, being the car and not the driver, the ax and not the woodcutter.

Maybe, derech drush, I may add, that the well known blessing which is said in the middle there, “U’be’chanuni na be’zos …” if you give the mayser, (or tzedakah also according to Chazal), you may expect to see the reward come in a revealed manner ad bli diy, and you may even test the Almight’y regarding this; the traditional commentators learn: If you indeed repent and start giving the mayser then I will send you my brocho …

Perhaps we may say that this is part of the complaint, not part of the result if we repent, like this: Listen here, you know good and well that one’s livelihood, one’s parnasa, is not dependent on how much you work, the hishtadlus, rather on the brocho from Above. And as proof to this is the fact that if you give Tzedakah you will see the brocho come, so then why do you relate to your making a living part of your OWN life, not part of Avodas Hashem, why do you choose to be a slave to yourself and not an eved to Me?

This is the preparation for Pesach, the introduction.

Sigh. I speak to myself in all of the above, just out loud so that he who wants can hear.

May we see the fulfillment already of “As in the days when you went out from Egypt, I will show them wonders”.

Boruch Rappaport

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Boruch Rappaport

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