“Tish Talk” by Rabbi Shalom Rubanowitz

Thoughts from your Rabbi for Your Shabbos Table

Tazria-Metzora, 5777/2017~ “Buried Treasures”

As we are reminded every year, the two Parshiyot  we will read tomorrow relate in a big way according to our Rabbis of the Talmud, to the sins of “Lashon Hara”-tale bearing, gossip and the negative talk (and treatment) of others. During the Temple periods, when we had active Priests/Kohanim, one who has been guilty of Lashon Hara might suffer the leprosy of the Torah,  or “Tzaraat” which will hopefully encourage him or her to change ways and take the necessary steps to heal. What is fascinating is that this disease was not limited to the skin or body, but might first hit one’s home, then clothes, and finally, if the sinning persists, the body itself. What always fascinated me more however, is that while this disease is clearly understood as punitive- a heavy handed “reminder” from Hashem, the first stage-the disease on the house—is also described by our Rabbis as a gift from Hashem. Almost like a reward or a “prize” in disguise. As Rashi explains, as we proceeded to conquer the Promised land, the Emorites, believing we were but a temporary nuisance, hid their treasures inside the walls of their “soon to be Israelite Occupied” homes. After we settled the land, occupied the abandoned homes, and presumably started speaking Lashon Hara (an inevitable result of Jewish life?-I so hope not), we get our first divine consequence-our homes are hit with dreaded Leprosy-and Voila! As we take apart the leprous walls we discover the Emorite treasures and become millionaires overnight.

Does this make sense to you? Why would G-d reward our destructively horrible rumor mongering and reputation assassinating slanderous ways with riches? And if Hashem sought to shower us with gifts as we settled the land of Israel why do so in such a backhanded fashion? Why not just mail each home a winning lottery ticket? Or have the cash buried in the exact spot we nail in our Mezuzot, for example, granting us the prize while we are engaged in a Mitzva-not as the result of our libelous actions towards our sisters and brothers?

Here is an idea: Our sages, philosophers and Rabbis throughout the generations have always understood that the intense desire to speak ill of others stems actually, not from our negative view of those others of whom we speak, but of our own insecurities and self-loathing. The confident and healthy-egoed person has little or no reason to speak less of others. She is not threatened by another’s prominence. It is when we feel “less than” that we often feel the urge to lift up ourselves by bringing others down. After all, “I’m not so bad after all…look what happened to her or him, look what they did…..”. This reality has also been understood by leading psychologists and behavioral scientists, who have placed a great deal of emphasis on the building of self-worth  and the “rehabilitation of the ego” as an antidote to expending “negative” energy-never a truly productive endeavor and almost always destructive.

Well, the Torah, beat us all to it with its own rehabilitation program. What better way to show someone who suffers from a lowered self-esteem or feelings of unworthiness, that he is so wrong about himself? What a brilliant manner through which to demonstrate how we each possess infinite inherent worthiness? We literally sit on top of buried treasures! Look at what’s behind the walls! Under the stones! The temporary and illusory benefit gained from putting others down pales in comparison. We just need to tear down some of our own walls, to uncover who we really are and remove the stones that block us from seeing that we are actually and personally loaded with treasures underneath. This is how Hashem rehabilitates the bad-mouthing gossiper. The “punishment” is indeed the greatest gift-building us up as we learn to notice-and realize our own value, a value not contingent on comparison to the next door neighbor. By us finding the hidden “Emorite” * gold in our own homes, we learn how little is to be gained by looking at others, and reminds us of the greatness that lies within-and under our very noses.  Shabbat Shalom and Happy Digging!

* The Medrash cited by Rashi singled out the Emorites as the ones who buried their treasures- despite there being seven nations inhabiting Canaan. Why then just mention Emorites? You might note that the word “Emorite” also relates to the Hebrew word “Emor”, which implies “soft” speaking, devoid of harshness or perhaps negativity. Maybe that lesson is the real “gold” of the Emorites” hinted to by the Medrash/Rashi. Some more food for thought.

 

Shalom Rubanowitz,

at the “Shul on the Beach, Venice,  California.

Comment to shalom@smartjewishlawyer.com

“Tish Talk” by Rabbi Shalom Rubanowitz

Thoughts from your Rabbi for Your Shabbos Table

Shabbos Hagadol, 5777/2017~ “Hunger Games” at the Seder

Almost every Haggada I read provides another explanation for why the Shabbat before Pesach is called “Shabbat Hagadol, or as we Ashkenazis say, Shabbos Hagodol”. In  this Tish Talk I get to share an idea of my own, which sprung from my attempt to answer the following question, asked pretty much every year by somebody:  “At the start of the Seder, in the “Ha Lachma” part, we say: “Kol Dichfin…Kol Ditzrich”, which is Aramaic for  “Whoever is hungry, or whoever needs [ to partake in the] Pesach…please join us-and eat! “.  But–what kind of invitation is it when it occurs after everyone is already home “for the Seder” and behind closed doors? Who are we inviting? We are all here! Is this just meaningless lip service?

But–how about reading that Aramaic with a little different emphasis, like so: “Whoever is HUNGRY, let him eat, whoever NEEDS Passover, let her partake…”. In other words, the invitation is to those present, here with us, offered with a caveat: “This experience will inform you-and transform you, if you are hungry for it. If you are seeking to glean. If you have identified a need to connect, learn, change. The stuff that happens here is not automatic. Many leave the Seder just a little tipsier that when they arrived but with their soul untouched. Others become unhinged, elevated to another plane. Thus, some deep soul searching, questioning oneself with “what does the Seder mean to me and how do I hope it will affect me”  must occur prior to jumping in.

Alas, how can this be helpful to the perhaps many of us who are at a loss to inspiration? What if we cannot identify any deep need or appreciation for the freedoms that the Seder night afford us? Enjoying the unique “freedom” of the Jewish identity is not axiomatic to our nature. How many of us pine for the opportunity to live a life consistently committed to Torah, G-d, and all the attendant obligations? Who really can say they NEED and are HUNGRY for this commitment to Judaism?

The answer lies in Shabbos. Experience a great Shabbat, a day of true peace from this world enveloped in the sphere of the spiritual, of Torah and of love- of our family, friends and community, and you will develop, cultivate and curate that desire to connect and be part of that holy world, that seat at the Seder table. Hence the Hunger Games. If you want the real Seder experience, try a GREAT Shabbos first, a Shabbat Hagadol, and you’ll not only be begging for that invitation, you’ll extend it to others.

Now here’s to a GREAT Shabbos to you!

Shalom Rubanowitz,

at the “Shul on the Beach, Venice,  California.

Comment to shalom@smartjewishlawyer.com

 Purim, 5777/2017: WHERE’S MY DRINK? I CAN’T SEE! A PURIM CHIDDUSH

We all know the famous/infamous command of Purim: “One must become intoxicated until he knows not the difference between cursed is Haman and Blessed is Mordechai”. (Talmud, Megilla). Much ink has been spilled on understanding this “Jewish drinking Mitzva” of getting hammered on Purim. It defies logic for so many reasons. One would have to be really, really drunk to not know the difference between say, Hitler and Churchill, wouldn’t we? Let alone the difference between Hitler and a Tzaddik like the saintly Chafetz Chaim! For modern times, would that mean we should get so plastered that we walk right into the heart of Gaza offering every sworn terrorist a L’chaim? And what about all the Mitzvos, the commandments we could so easily abandon while being smashed? Praying? (on time?) Damaging property? Remembering about G-d, Loving him…, being “conscious” in our Judaism and practice?

 

Here is a radical idea. The Talmud does not wish us to lose our identity and ourselves through the escapism of inebriation. Rather, the Talmud seeks us to lift the cloud sufficiently so that we find clarity and vision amidst a hazy world. To know who we are and what we stand for. To escape our day to day just enough to see ourselves and everyone a bit more clearly. It is so easy for us, especially us of American sensibilities, to say: “live and let live”. I’m ok you’re ok”. It’s a melting pot. To celebrate “Chrismikkuh”, and to bumper-sticker Rose Avenue with “Coexist” signs (see pic below). Too many of us like to be Mordechais -but with a “touch” of Haman. Let’s be Othodox, but not so much that our friends notice it. Let’s be spiritual but embrace materialism for “balance”. Says the Talmud: on Purim, remember that the Germans, the Hamans never forgot who we are. Mengele’s hand wouldn’t waiver because someone lit up a Hannuka Bush instead of a Menorah. Super clarity is what we seek: that we untangle the scurried and blurred lines. In this age of the “global citizen”, Haman and Mordechai cannot share the same identity. One must realize that indeed there is no actual difference between Blessing Mordechai and Cursing Haman. If Mordechai is blessed-that’s an automatic curse for Haman, and vice versa. Hamans and Mordechais, Israelis and Amalekites (those who wish us eliminated from the face of the earth), simply don’t get to share the same Kiddush cup.. May we all merit clarity of vision to know and see ourselves for who we are and what we stand for-this Purim and forever!

 

Good Shabbos and a Freilichen and Happy Purim!

Parshas Teruma, 5777: “Elevate your money-Elevate Yourself”

“These are the donations that you shall take…gold, silver and copper….” . Our Parasha starts by detailing the forms a of donations accepted/collected for the establishment of the Mishkon, our mini-temple in the post Exodus Sinai desert. As a child, I remember reading a cryptic comment by the “Chasam Sofer”  (Rabbi Moshe Schreiber, 1762–1839) stating that letters making up the words  “Zahav, Kesef and Nchoshes” (Gold, silver and copper) each correspond to another day the Torah is read in public, in Shul.

[Check it out as a Shabbos Homework Project! Here is a hint at how it works: the “Zayin from “Zahav” represents Shabbos, the seventh day of the week…etc.…, the “Samech” from KeSef represents Sukkos…etc.…]

I always thought the Chasam Sofer was providing us a “Torah hint” hint to the popular practice of offering a gift or a donation (money or anything of value) to the Shul at the time one gets an Aliya. I continued to wonder however why we would taint a clearly spiritual event like an Aliya to the Torah, being called up to bless the Torah, with the mundane commerciality of fund raising, or as some call it, “Schnoring”?

It’s Not Just Us that Gets the Aliya-Our Wallet Does Too!
Here is my offer of explanation: By bringing you and your “wallet” to the Bima of an Aliya, Judaism is making a statement: Money is not the root of all evil. It is not “bad”. It’s as wonderful or as crippling as we are. Utilize it properly, and it will elevate you, your souls and all those around you. Direct it towards negativity, and it brings you and all its directed to down as well. So, when we get an Aliya-which literally means an “elevation”, our practice has been to make sure our money gets an Aliya too! We couple our Bracha on the Torah with any donation we can make, so that we give our “gold silver and copper” a chance to rise to its destiny and take us along of the ride for lives of royal, but holy splendor. So, step on in let’s ride this elevator to the top!

Good Shabbos

Very Truly Yours,

Shalom Rubanowitz
Rabbi, Pacific Jewish Center
“Shul on the Beach” Located at
505 Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach, CA
Email: rsr@pjcenter.comYisro – Standing up for Aseres Hadibros / The Ten Commandments

 

While we didn’t have a formal TOWN HALL discussion this past Wednesday, a Shiur/Torah talk actually occurred at the Kosher Food & Wine Expo attended by a number of our wonderful Chevra from the Shul on the Beach. It was great to see you all, pourers and pourees alike! We had a wonderful “Shomer Shabbos” representation! Here are the highlights of our Herzog-infused Torah:

 

THE QUESTIONABLE CUSTOM

You may be familiar with the following custom: About three times a year during the Torah reading/Laining when we read the Ten Commandments (when we read Parashas Yisro, Veschanan, and on Shavuos), the Gabbai “Klops” ( bangs) on the Bima and/or announces loudly: “ We will all now rise for the reading of the Aseres Hadibros/Ten Commandments…”. I have yet to see a Shul in North America in which this doesn’t occur (perhaps my Sephardi friends report differently?), but indeed this does not occur in every Shul-some rule that if the congregation sits during the rest of the Torah reading, it should remain seated during the reading of the Ten Commandments as well.  What is the issue/debate?

 

THE DEBATE

The support for the custom: Quite obvious-it’s the Ten Commandments! These represent the very covenant between Israel as a people and Hashem. Surely we should stand up for this-no? As explicitly stated in the Torah :

 

In Sh’mot 34:28:

 

28He was there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights; he ate no bread and drank no water, and He inscribed upon the tablets the words of the Covenant, the Ten Commandments. כחוַיְהִי־שָׁ֣ם עִם־הֹ אַרְבָּעִ֥ים יוֹם֙ וְאַרְבָּעִ֣ים לַ֔יְלָה לֶ֚חֶם לֹ֣א אָכַ֔ל וּמַ֖יִם לֹ֣א שָׁתָ֑ה וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֗ת אֵ֚ת דִּבְרֵ֣י הַבְּרִ֔ית עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִֽים:

And in D’varim 4:13:

 

13And He told you His covenant, which He commanded you to do, the Ten Commandments, and He inscribed them on two stone tablets. יגוַיַּגֵּ֨ד לָכֶ֜ם אֶת־בְּרִית֗וֹ אֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֤ה אֶתְכֶם֙ לַֽעֲשׂ֔וֹת עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִ֑ים וַיִּכְתְּבֵ֔ם עַל־שְׁנֵ֖י לֻח֥וֹת אֲבָנִֽים:

 

 

The opposition however will say: Have we forgotten about the rest of the Torah? If we stand up for the Ten Commandments, how does that reflect on our reverence for the rest of the Torah? As Torah Jews of course, we firmly believe that every part of the Torah is of equal importance  – it is all the word of Hashem.
RAMBAM/MAIMONIDES SPEAKS OUT

Rambam/Maimonides penned a Responsa on this issue and after discussion   concludes that the proper practice is to not stand for “select” parts of the Torah. He felt  that standing would lead to a diminution of belief in Hashem and the Torah by causing people to think some parts of the Torah are more important than others (See Talmud Berachot 12 discussing certain heretics’ belief about only certain parts of the Torah being valid).

 

THE CHALLENGE-HOW DO WE JUSTIFY MAINTAINING THE CUSTOM THAT THE GREAT MAIMONIDES OPPOSES?

Over the years I have shared a few approaches that support our prevalent custom to indeed stand up during the reading of the Aseres Hadibros. I will cite them briefly before I share with you my most recently inspired thought (Wednesday night):

 

  1. The Entire Torah is indeed contained and incorporated within the Ten Commandments, which are a composite of all 613 Commandments. Rashi on Sh’mot 24:12 states this, citing the Medrash Raba and R’ Sa’adiah Ga’on’s Azharot. [Philo’s De Decalogo has been suggested as an early source for this idea];

 

  1. When we stand up for the reading, we are simply “replaying” the actual scene/event in which the Torah was give, where we all did indeed stand as we listened to the delivery of the Ten Commandments. In recreating the event, we reenact and “reaccept” the Torah. This idea resonates when learning the words of the [ Medrash]  PESIKTA: “HAKADOSH BORUCH HU [G-D] SAID TO YISROEL, MY CHILDREN, READ THIS PARSHA EVERY YEAR AND I WILL CONSIDER IT AS IF YOU ARE STANDING IN FRONT OF ME ON HAR SINAI AND RECEIVING THE TORAH.”. It was gratifying to hear this idea, shared as an original thought and Chiddush, by my dear friend R’ Avi Erblich, who attended our TOWN HALL impromptu gathering this past Wednesday night at the KFWE. Avi: Yasher Koach and Baruch Shekivanta!

 

MY WEDNESDAY NIGHT CHIDDUSH-FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I recall a Gemara, a famously quoted Talmudic statement from Tractate  Makkot, 22b ,  as follows:

 

“אמר רבא, כמה טפשאי שאר אינשי, דקיימי מקמי ספר תורה ולא קיימי מקמי גברא רבה, דאילו בספר תורה כתיב ארבעים ואתו רבנן בצרו חדא”—Rava said: How foolish are some people, who stand up in honor of a sefer Torah, but they do not stand up in honor of a “gavra rabbah.” For it is written in the sefer Torah “forty”; the Rabbis came along and subtracted one.

 

In other words, people who show respect for a sefer Torah but not for the great men who interpret the Torah are truly foolish. For the Torah specifically states: “He shall administer forty lashes,” and yet the sages possess the power to override the Torah’s specific prescription and establish the maximum number of lashes as thirty-nine.

 

THE RESOLUTION

How about if we view the custom to stand during the reading of the Aseres Hadibros not as specifically rising to the words of the Ten Commandments-those are indeed not more divinely delivered than the rest of the Torah, but rather, we stand in honor of us humans, to whom the Torah was given! WE were given the ultimate gift-the opportunity to learn, absorb, and interpret the Torah and the actual word of Hashem. At Mt. Sinai, we, the Jewish people  were inaugurated as “Living Torahs”. The “Ten Commandments” was our “swearing in” ceremony. The Covenant is remembered not because those words above all have heightened importance, but because at the time those words were delivered, we were raised up to achieve a level higher than the very words of Hashem themselves!  Indeed, each and every one of us has been given that opportunity. To not only know the Torah, but to become its very master.

 

So my friends, when I will stand up this Shabbos, I will be standing up in honor of the Torah no doubt, but with a new enlightened understanding. I will be honoring each and every one of you-all of us, with the hope and prayer that we listen, absorb, share and embody those life-giving lessons in very beings so that we become as elevated-or even more elevated-than our beloved Torah itself!

Good Shabbos and Shabbat Shalom!

Your comments and ideas will be warmly received at: shalom@shalomlawoffice.com or RSR@PJCENTER.COM

Questions to Ponder

THE QUESTION:

Is celebrating a birthday a “Jewish” thing to do? As Torah Jews, don’t we make sure that all we do – especially things that we place importance on and give value to, are sourced in our Torah, our Mesorah-our Sinaic tradition? Birthdays are every important to so many of us-yet what does the Torah have to say about this?

THE RESEARCH:My research of the entire Torah revealed only ONE source for the idea of celebrating a Birthday, and that source appeared to be very UNJEWISH. Indeed, only one birthday party is recorded in the Torah– the birthday party of PHARAOH-the Pharaoh that ruled Egypt during Joseph’s life and according to many, the very same Pharaoh that enslaved us and was responsible for the murder of countless Jewish babies.

THE PROBLEM WITH THE RESEARCH:  Well, if the ONLY  Torah source for the celebration of a birthday is from the life and times of a Pagan, and according to many- the evil despot of an immoral society, wouldn’t’ that be reason enough to NOT celebrate birthdays?

ANECDOTAL SUPPORT FOR THIS PROBLEM: there seems to be no prohibition on birthday celebrations recorded as part of our normative Halacha, our code of Jewish law, I actually note that a  number of great Jewish leaders-the recent Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menchaem Mendel Schneersohn Zatza”l among them (as well as the Chafetz Chaim Zatza”l) actually made a big deal of marking and celebrating their birthdays. These are people for whom every step of their lives was filled with deep and holy meaning-nothing was done without having its source in the highest realms. Yet where did they find any credence to such a practice if, again, the only citable precedent is from King Pharaoh, a decidedly non-Rabbi!

MY CHIDDUSH-AN ANSWER: 

As we prepare to celebrate Tu Bishvat-another sort of “Birthday” as the “Rosh Hashana for Trees”—and as we prepare to learn and read Parashas Beshalach, which has as its main theme the downfall of Egypt and our triumph over “Pharaoh and his army”, allow me to share this idea and Chiddush:

The BEST source for the motion of a birthday celebration is that first Birthday party of Pharaoh, recorded in Genesis 40. That is because that Birthday party was actually the catalyst, the “setting in motion” of our entire Egyptian saga culminating in our eventual Exodus and the actual BIRTH of our nation. Something very big happened at that party, something that reflects the very essence of what a birthday should be-and that is why that event is the only Torah-recorded source for birthday parties of all time.

EVIDENCE THAT THE PHARAONIC BIRTHDAY PARTY HAS MAJOR JEWISH SIGNIFICANCE:  The Jerusalem Talmud cites the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi who says that the reason for the practice of drinking 4 cups of wine at the Passover Seder is because they correspond to the four times the “Cup of Pharaoh” is mentioned  in the story of the dream that the butler told over to Yosef (Joseph) in prison- See Bereishit/G e n e s i s  4 0 :11-1 2. What an odd sounding idea! What does the Butler’s dream have anything to do with Passover? There is nothing that indicates that the dream occurred on Passover or anything like that. What’s the message here?

EXPLANATION OF THE NEXUS BETWEEN THE BUTLER’S DREAM, PHARAOH’S PARTY AND SEDER NIGHT: 

You may recall how Joseph’s interpretation of the dream of Pharaoh’s Chief Butler ended up coming true, and the Chief Butler was released from Prison and returned to his position in the palace. When Pharaoh had his dreams, the butler recommended Joseph as a dream interpreter, which led the way for Joseph’s personal Exodus from prison, his becoming part of the Royal Court, his brothers coming down to Egypt, and his becoming our Patron during our Egyptian exile.

As the Torah tells us, all this happened surrounding Pharaoh’s birthday celebration . And all because of Yosef’s ability to interpret dreams. As the Talmud teaches us, dreams “follow the interpretation”. In other words, dreams can go in many directions. The result of the dream, its fruition, will depend on how it is interpreted. What a concept! We have a dream-but it is the Interpretation we apply to it  that determines its results!

Yosef understood this. He was able to bring about successful results to Paharaoh and all of Yosef’s other dreamers and customers because he understood that when we merit to see a vision, to dream, Hashem simultaneously gives us the ability to realize it in the manner that we direct! To a great degree, we determine our fate, our successes,  or maybe sometimes our failures.

When you think about that, isn’t that the lesson of Passover? Yes, life brought us into the dungeons of Egypt. But we ourselves had the power to envision a future of greatness. Those who saw it, (led by the positive attitude of our holy mothers as the Talmud teaches) merited to leave Egypt and inaugurate the birth of the most wondrous nation that ever walked the earth-Bnai Yisrael!

HOW IS OUR INITIAL  QUERY RESOLVED? One may argue whether a birthday deserves celebration or not. On the one hand, what did the “Birthday boy or girl” do other than live? We should celebrate achievement, not survival! On the other hand, what we have learned is that we are empowered with interpreting our own dreams and visions. On our Birthday, we have the opportunity to reflect on that awesome gift: the potential to go any way we choose and the power to accomplish it. Now that indeed is worthy of celebration, isn’t it?

Shabbat Shalom!

If you wish to obtain more information information on this topic discussed at length at TOWN, or if you wish to comment (comments and input are supremely appreciated) Please email Rabbi Rubanowitz at shalom@shalomlawoffice.com.

Parshas Bo

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

As a Rabbi, I come across people from at all levels of connection to Judaism. As far as dating and non Jews, some would never consider it, some have no compunctions at all, and others struggle, conceding that loneliness and attraction can overcome their Desire to “keep the faith”. From the last two groups, and chiefly from the “struggling” group, I have heard different versions of the following:

“I don’t like to date Jewish girls because they expect me to be doctor, lawyer or if not, then at least a “Macher” (a big shot , I.e. $$$). As soon as they find out I may not be one of those, they lose total interest. Even if I am the successful professional they want, or rich enough to pass the test, I’ll always feel that’s why they stay with me.  Non Jewish girls on the other hand, are just happy to be with ME. If I treat a non newish girl with respect and kindness and we get along terrific and all that, that’s what she cares about. What I do and how much I make is the least important thing to her compared to how I treat her and how we enjoy each other’s company. She values me for me and not for my status.”.

 

If any of this rings true, how do you explain such from our holy sisters , daughters of Sarah, Rivka Rachel and Leah? How can such a possible reality match our Torah values?

And Here is what I hear from single Jewish women of all categories, in different versions:

“How come I can’t find a guy with a steady serious job? I am interested in a Jewish man, but I keep on getting set up with guys who have no real job, no serious career path or successful business? Yes, I meet guys who are full of ambition to be more devoted and religious Jews and to raise families, and have a great  desire to do Mitzvot, keep Shabbat, Learn Torah–and I love that. But how come those guys don’t seem to be as ambitious about their careers? Support a family? Make it big in this world? How come when they become religious they forget about building a great life here on earth? They’re all in the sky. It seems like all the successful guys are married! I don’t want to date just to have  fun,  I want someone who is serious and has a place in this world. I feel like I need to date non Jews just to widen the dating pool!”

What would you, a person who seeks to live life according to Torah ideals, tell people who share with you these complaints?

HOW CAN OUR PARASHA ANSWER ANY OF THIS?

Well, our Sedra of the week, BO, contains the climax of the “Exodus” story, as we leave Egypt as freed slaves and march towards our destiny, to receive the Torah and become a light unto all nations as the nation of Israel. The holiday of Pesach, commemorating this, is  introduced in our Parasha, with a focal point of the holiday being the “Korban Pesach”, the Pascal  sacrifice brought Passover Eve when we had our temple in Jerusalem-and originally brought in Mitzrayim on the eve of our liberation.  We have reminders of it all throughout the Passover Seder.

The laws of that sacrifice are so intricate and detailed. For example-one may not break any bones when it is eaten! , among others. Why such detail and worry over minutia in connection with the Passover service in which we actually celebrate freedom and release from oppression? In discussing this actual specific detail, the obligation “not to break the bones” of the sacrifice, the great 13th century “Book of Education”, the “Sefer Hachinuch” provides a seminal explanation which forms the foundation for the understanding of so much of our Jewish practice that practically all of Rabbinic literature throughout the last millennia record the following truth as axiomatic of our faith:

” our hearts are impacted -and swayed by our ACTIONS”.

That’s it. In essence, if we want to become something, or live to an ideal we believe applies to us, we need to take and do actions that reflect that vision-and we will become it.

What does any of this have to do with Jewish dating???

As the Sefer Hachinuch goes on to explain if not in so much words :

“When we left Egypt we were raised to the highest possible level. We were marked for and brought to greatness. We were designated as Hashem’s children. A “Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation”. Essentially we all became “Bnai and Bnot Melachim”-“literal royalty, princesses and princes of highest order and loftiest of pedigrees.

We often forget how special we are. To what level we have reached in the past and to what greatness we could rise to in the future. Therefore, our customs and laws  related to the Seder night, the night this all became a reality, and  THE ACTIONS WE DO on that night must reflect that very royalty, so that we become that reality and realize it again. Therefore for example, we cannot eat the Passover “meal”, the Pascal lamb like a ravenous peasant, grabbing, tearing and breaking its bones. Rather, we should approach it, and everything that night, with the dignity and “class” of a Royal–children of the Palace. Pomp, circumstance, precision and elegance.  We need to ACT like who we really are and who we want to become.

CONNECT THE DOTS AND TAKE THE MESSAGE HOME:

As you discuss this issue at your Shabbos table, or anytime, see how viewing our holy Jewish sisters and brothers not just as “other fish in the dating pool”, but as princes and princesses, who envision for themselves not just a mere earthly existence, but a Royal life. Beautiful homes full of grace and sharing, caring occupants busy with matters of the highest importance – inspiring the world to be better through a sanctified life. With every home a palace, every man  a king and every woman the queen of her domain. Mothers and fathers of yes, a kingdom of the elevated. Not JAPS and Playboys but Queen Esthers and King Solomons! Maybe our dear sisters envision themselves as dynastic matriarchs, for whom living on a higher plane is almost a requirement to ensure the future they seek to build .Maybe our beloved brothers see themselves as critical links of leadership for the next generation, recognizing that as “heads of state” they need to rise above the career treadmill the rest of the world embraces and spend more time on matters of the heavenly, so necessary for our ultimate earthly survival. Maybe? Tell me what you think…

Some Food For thought For Your Shabbos Table

Shabbat Shalom!

Shalom Rubanowitz