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Rabbi Fishel's Blog

Dig down into our reserves

Dear Friends,    

We have now come to the end of Pesach, the festival of freedom. Is it simply a case of waving goodbye to this holiday, its different foods and traditions? Not so fast! Some have the custom at the Seder to say: Chasal Siddur Pesach - the order of Pesach is now finished. Yet others prefer not to. 

Why not? Because the essential spiritual task of Pesach - the liberation of our soul from the constraints of our inner Egypt - does not end when Pesach concludes. Its lessons remain with us and sustain us throughout every day of the year. 

This journey, this story is not over. It began with our ancestors long ago; it continues with us now. We remember not merely out of nostalgia - we do so because now it is our turn to add to the narrative, throughout the coming year. And we certainly have a global plague-related saga to share! 

We hope everyone is well and not too stressed out from a case of cabin fever.  At the beginning of our 'voluntary incarceration' a few weeks ago, it may have been a little easier to keep our spirits high and actually enjoy being at home most of the time. Zoom was new, meeting on Facebook live was new, and we were still relatively happy.    

Now as the days, weeks and possibly months pass, time seems to move very slowly, one day passes much the same as the last, and routines become almost boring and mundane. It may be getting to us. Now is the time we need blessings, to dig down into our reserves to find the strength to carry on in a happy frame of mind.    

You know how much I value two-way communication and appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Staying in touch and connected helps to ride the waves - please keep your thoughts coming!

I wish you and your dear family a wonderful and safe Shabbat! We are mishpochah and we are in this together, now and always!  

 Rabbi Fishel & Ettie Zaklos 

 

 

Why is this Passover different from all others?

The past few weeks have plunged us all into a world of chaos, instability, and uncertainty, a world that we hardly recognize. The Passover Seder is just days away. The definition of 'Seder' is 'order,' precisely the safety net we now crave. First, we must hear the message of our Seder. Know without a doubt that we are not alone in this world. Just as our people wondered in Egypt if they would ever get out of the awful darkness they were suffering, we too may wonder: Are we spiraling out of control? Will we ever see the light again?

Why is this Passover different from all others? And yet, the same? It is the season of our freedom - and freedom is a state of mind. It’s up to us, how we choose to perceive and spend this Passover. These days, it’s our state of mind that will carry us through these trying times. It’s not the first time the Jewish people, or other downtrodden groups   have been put ‘on trial’, unfortunately, and now the situation is universal and we are all in this together - what a monumental challenge for G-d! 

Just look at Jewish history and the times we were filled with pain and suffering, and we survived. We survived as stronger people, to enjoy the sweetness that followed.

Seder night comes to teach us perspective for life. There is marror (bitter herbs); it is true. Our forefathers had many moments of grief. There were times that they were anguished and felt as if they had lost their spirit. But they did not allow the marror moments to overcome them. They were not stripped of their faith. We dip the marror into charoset - a delicious mixture of apples, nuts, wine and dates - to teach us that even in the most difficult of times we must see the sweetness that imbues our life. The friendships, the love, the resilience, the kindness that surrounds us. G-d took us out of Egypt, and we will get out of this darkness too.

At our Seder we make a sandwich of matzah and marror with a bit of charoset, for such is life. Sandwiched between the hardships are the flashes of joy. Grab onto them! Seize the moment.

With quarantines and social distancing, take this time to build a bridge. Call someone you've lost touch with. Think of others who are feeling isolated right now and hug them with your heart.

This one germ has spread throughout the world and created havoc. Imagine how one good word, one good deed could spread throughout the world and counter the devastation. Your light could spread from one person to another, and on and on. The antidote to destruction is creation. Create goodness. Be a blessing.

May this Shabbas message bring us all the comfort we deserve and the strength to establish that mindset that will grant us the patience to appreciate all the good things G-d has given us, while facing adversity. We still have the freedom to ask Him for His continued blessings - what a gift that is! Remember in good and in not-so-good times, to thank G-d for allowing us to ask, and for his loving care.

And please remember the words of the Rebbe, Rabbi Schneerson: TRACHT GUT VET ZEIN GUT - THINK GOOD & IT'LL BE GOOD!  

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