Dvar Torah for Pesach (2)


Based on Likutey Moharan I, 64; Hilkhot Minchah 4

Pesach is the birth of our beautiful, holy people, the Jews. The birth of the eternal people, the Jews, parallels Creation. And the act of Creation, and its continued existence, is predicated on the following paradox. GodÍs being is so overwhelming that nothing can exist in its presence. So how can creation exist. But it most certainly does. That indicates that Hashem (God) has stepped away, so to speak, and is not here. But nothing can exist unless Hashem is providing it with life. So He is here! But He canÍt be! Voila! A paradox.

In kabalah this paradox is called the chalal hapanui (Vacated Space). The simultaneous absence and presence of God is something that we cannot understand currently. Only in the future will people be able to comprehend this.

In relation to this paradox Rebbe Nachman writes that we have to be aware that there are two types of questions. One type of question has answers, the other does not. The former can be tackled and (usually) satisfied with intellect. The latter can be answered only with faith, and faith is the theme of the Seder

The Seder is built for children of all ages. It is meant to pique your curiosity. YouÍre supposed to ask questions. (Like the rest of life!) But! The Seder doesnÍt really provide any intellectual answers, neither for the Four Questions nor, for the most part, for any we may add. The Seder constantly points out the chalal hapanui paradox. We were slaves„were was God? We served idols„were was God? The ñchildî who asks seeks the ñadultî who is ñolder and wiserî. The answer of the ñadultî is: God intervenes in our collective and personal history. Hashem freed us from slavery, physical and spiritual.

The ñchildî asks with trust and believes the answer of the ñadult.î The quality that we need to gain the answers, to accept those answers is faith: in our Torah, our teachers and our traditions. And in the God Who out of His kindness gives them to us. (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 5:16:1„chiko mamtakim (His palate is sweetness...). ñGod says to Israel, ïSeek Me and liveÍî (Amos 5:4). Can there be a palate sweeter than this [that invites those that ignore Him to repent and live]?

Of course the lessons of the Hagadah, of the Seder, are not just for Pesach. ñToday I gave birth to youî (Psalms 2:7). Every step forward in Judaism that you take is a new birth, a genuinely new creation. This birth, your birth and creation, must be preceded by a yeridah (slump). The yeridah is your chalal hapanui. And so in life we must encounter moments„extended moments, perhaps even whole periods„when we will not have intellectual answers.

Your yeridah can be brought on by all sorts of ñslaveryî„your time is not your own (a job); your thinking or your emotions are not your own (concepts are defined in an anti-Jewish, anti-spiritual way and have to be unlearned; emotions are trapped by people/events of past/present). Or despite temporary emancipation you again become enslaved to bad desires or character traits. Or, God forbid, a tragedy. Freedom begins with ñthe Jewish people groaned and cried out to Hashemî (Exodus 2:23-24).

Today we are confronted with a major chalal hapanui: Can there be peace? We are being torn apart from within and from without. There seems to be no logical solution on either front. It appears that this question can be answered only with faith. We have historical precedent to believe. When God took us out of Egypt, as we were crossing the Red Sea, Satan asked: The Jews also served idols. Why save them? God did not answer him. He changed the subject (Shemot Rabbah 21:7). And we answer:

LÍshanah habaÍah biYerushalyim habÍniyuah!
Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem!

A kosher and happy Pesach!