Torah from Our Seder Table to Yours
The following Torah thoughts were shared at our Seder table last year. Please enjoy these insights, from our Seder table to yours.
Rav Elimelech Biderman shares that Passover night is a powerful time for Tefila. Davening on the Seder night offers miraculous yeshuas in our lives. There are countless stories of people who sincerely davened on the Seder night and received answers to their plea. It is customary that during the Venitztak portion of the Haggadah, one should pause and pray from the depths of the heart. At that point in the Seder, many Gedolim would go into secluded rooms and pray for hours, and only afterwards come back to finish the Seder. On the Seder night last year, we as a family paused at the Venitzak portion, and each family member chose a favorite Perek of Tehillim to recite, and then added a personal prayer.
No More Complaining
When Moshe went to ask Paroah to free the Jewish nation, not only did Paroah decline, but he also made the workload harder for the Jews. Now the Jewish people had to create the same amount of bricks, but were not given straw.
At this point, the Jews began to complain and cry out to Moshe. Instead of feeling grateful to Moshe for doing what Hashem asked, they were upset with him for asking Paroah for freedom.
The commentaries explain that if the Jewish people had expressed appreciation to Moshe, rather than complaining, we would have been freed that very moment. We should have had faith that this was part of the ultimate plan.
Every time there is hardship and suffering, a seed of redemption is planted, and awaits our gratitude to open up the final geula. Each time we are tempted to complain, we can instead stop and express gratitude.
You might be surprised to discover just how difficult it is to break the habit of complaining. Rather than setting ourselves up for failure by vowing never to complain again, try smaller goals.
Try making a no complaint zone in your home, or committing to a full week of not complaining. Even setting aside just an hour per day without complaining promotes growth. Complaining is a difficult habit to break, but the bracha we will receive is well worth the effort.
The other night, our family planned to go out to dinner. Then, the children began to fight. My husband and I turned to each other and said, “Okay, I see you don’t want to go out to eat tonight. Let’s cancel the reservation.” Of course the children were upset, and I was even more disappointed, but we stuck with it.
During dinner at home, I asked the children about their favorite part of the day.
“Well, the worst part of the day was the fact that we didn’t get to go out to dinner!” Emmy griped.
I responded, “Think about it, Emmy. If the worst part of your day and your biggest trouble is that you can’t go out to eat, then that tells me you have a really great life!”
I then said aloud in prayer, “Thank you Hashem for the fact that the worst part of Emmy’s day is that we didn’t go out to dinner. Baruch Hashem!”
“That’s right!” my son chimed in. “Thank you Hashem that we didn’t go out to dinner.”
Afterward, we went around the table, sharing our gratitude for the perceived “bad” in our lives.
We all learned a great lesson that night. It was a paradigm shift in our thinking, which we probably would not have experienced had we gone out to eat.
On Pesach, or anytime, we can thank Hashem for the “bad” instead of complaining, and watch the bracha unfold.
When Hashem split the Yam Suf, He created twelve separate tunnels for each tribe to pass through. Hashem made an additional miracle by causing each wall of water to be hard and clear, like glass. This enabled the tribes to see that their fellow Jews were also making their way safely through the path.
Rebbetzin Shira Smiles shares that Hashem created clear vision from one tribe to the next as a chesed. It would have been too nerve-wracking for each tribe to walk through an opaque tunnel, not knowing their brethren’s fate. This way we had the menuchas hanefesh, peace of mind, to know that our brothers were also crossing safely. This imparts the beautiful lesson that we can only be truly happy when we know that others are also doing well.
This element of the miracle blew Yitro away. It is for this reason that he decided to join our people. If we were a nation that cared so much for our fellow Jew, then he wanted to be part of this team.
Although this is a beautiful commentary, I wonder if we still have this level of concern for one another day. We too peer into the lives of others through a clear glass, our screens. Every day, many of us scour social media, looking into the world of our friends—and frenemies—family, and colleagues.
Are we looking into their world and finding comfort when things are going well for them? Or are we stewing in jealousy and desire? Only an honest internal evaluation can answer that.
We all have daily opportunities to use our social media for good, to daven for others, reach out with kind words, promote others’ businesses, and give someone a boost of confidence.
Will we utilize the ability to get a glimpse of others to help and care for one another, or will we be jealous? The choice is ours. Let us make a kiddush Hashem as we once did, and choose to care for one another.
Leap of Faith
Rabbi Phillip Moscowitz quotes the famous story of Nachshon ben Aminadav. When the Jewish nation arrived at the Yam Suf, they looked back and saw the Mitzrim chasing them. There was nowhere to go, but no one had the initial courage to take the leap of faith into the sea. Suddenly, Nachshon ben Aminadav began walking into the ocean, and the entire nation looked on to see what his fate would be. Rabbi Moscowitz quotes the Talmud, which references a lesser known version of this story.
“Yes, there was still fear, uncertainty, and confusion, and yes, there was still fighting among the tribes, but not because nobody wanted to go in… Rather, because everyone wanted to go in first. Everyone was arguing about who should jump in first and amidst the confusion, the tribe of Benjamin takes the plunge and splits the sea.”
Why are there two versions of the same story?
He goes on to explain that, “According to the first, well-known version, what Nachshon ben Aminadav did was incredible. It was heroic, fearless, courageous, and even somewhat superhuman. But it was the action of an individual; it was one person acting bravely. The second version is the story not of an individual, but of a family that chose to act as a brave and courageous team.
“By highlighting this second version of the story, the Rabbis are telling us that while the actions of an individual are incredible and what Nachshon did deserves our admiration, there’s an even higher level to aspire to, and that’s the story of a tribe, of a family that chooses together to affect change, cause redemption, and be an inspiration to millennia of Jews that will follow.
“Redemption won’t come through the acts of individuals; redemption comes when the parents and children will return to God together, when families and groups of people make courageous decisions.”
Another important lesson to be learned from this is that as a family, it is important to stick together, because at the end of the day, all we have is each other.
Never Embarrass Another
In the Beit Hamikdash, the sin offering and the offering of thanks was positioned in the exact same spot. This seems odd, given the fact that they serve completely different purposes.
Of course, Hashem in His infinite wisdom has a reason for everything. With these two offerings in the same place, no one would be embarrassed when bringing the sin offering, because onlookers would not know which offering a person was bringing.
Matzah is called the lechem oni, bread of affliction, but also termed the bread of faith in Aramaic.
This is because matzah represents potential, not actualization. Sometimes a child appears like matzah: flat and not rising to our expectations. We have to remember they are still developing potential, and must have faith that they, too can become great.
Within each tragedy, there is always a seed of redemption. When we realize our potential, it brings us to action, and that action leads to our ultimate redemption.
 Shalom Arush, The Garden of Gratitude, pg 22- 23